*2023 – Note for Religious and Regional Politics Champions*
By Hussein Umar Ibrahim,
All the major candidates aspiring for President Muhammadu Buhari’s office think they have what it takes to win the 2023 presidential election. But some of them, and other political juggernauts do not think so.
Hence, they have since started flying their religious kite in order to curry the Masses’ sympathy. They have also begun trumpeting their regional identity ahead of the epic polls next year.
Let’s start with two eminent political figures – former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara and the former Secretary to the Federal Government Babachir Lawal.
It is morally senseless and politically unbecoming of them to selfishly introduce primordial sentiments into the 2023 elections to disunite the public because of their shallow mentality. Dogara felt he has the right to become the running mate of All Progressive Congress, APC, presidential candidate Ahmed Bola Tinubu simply because he is an acclaimed Christian.
Similarly, Lawal had the same dream of becoming a running mate which is why he confidently called for the nomination of Tinubu as APC presidential hopeful. Things went wrong and he u-turned against his former preferred choice because he didn’t get what he want. He is aggressively against the Muslim-Muslim ticket of selfishness not because he truly cared for the unity of the country.
Recently, the Northern Christian Youth Initiative (NYCI) has condemned the activities of politicians using religion under any guise for their political ambition, warning Dogara and his erstwhile Lawal. This is a testimony to the fact that Nigerians are wiser than ever before in their decisions on who to lead the country again.
However, that is not to say that religion will not play a critical role in the election because some people still believe in whatever their hungry and insincere pastors and Imams tell them. Instead of shunning partisanship of all kinds and embracing issue-based politics, they always vote for the choice of their clerics at the expense of themselves as well as the country’s prosperity.
Although, the Muslim-Muslim ticket decision is not justifiable, beating the drums of religious or regional politics is not the way forward. Nigeria needs a leader who can carry everyone along with progressive steps. The presidential candidate for Labor Party (LP) Peter Obi and Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) is the champions of regional politics in Nigeria. Their states are their stronghold. However, that’s their greatest political undoing.
Obi thinks that his region alone can make him a president. This is a rotten fallacy. He doesn’t care about the other parts of the country. Obi will win the 2023 presidential election if it holds on social media. He has been deceived by his gullible and blind supporters who don’t want to wake up to the reality of politics.
Kwankwaso suffers from the same political sickness as Obi. Though Kwankwaso has relevance in some states that will not pave his way to the Villa.
Unarguably, Peter Obi has been able to mobilize the youths, especially the ones from the eastern part. The Obi-dient movement is one of its likes in Nigeria and its emergence has reduced the chances of Atiku Abubakar winning the 2023 presidential election. Obi will just split the vote because he is unlikely to win the election.
On the other hand, they have risen the chances of Tinubu winning the election because the APC has the numbers in the Northeast, North Central, and South-West even though they may share the votes with Atiku in some states as many experts extrapolated.
The election is fast approaching and many Nigerians are ready to liberate themselves from the incapacitated leadership of the incumbent president. Many people thought Buhari is the messiah of Nigeria. Unfortunately, the country is still at the same bus stop with little negligible shifts.
Worrisomely, insecurity is still an issue for the country, leaving poor masses with the option of self-defense.
An average educated Nigerian is angry with Nigeria because of the ongoing security challenges, unprecedented inflation, high rate of unemployment, corruption, the ASUU strike, nepotism, and strangulating policies that have further worsened the level of poverty in the country.
Despite the lingering crisis in PDP, Tinubu will not win the election with a landslide margin because two-thirds of Nigerians are not been ‘smiling’ since the APC came into power in 2015. Again, the Jagaban is contesting under a party that has performed woefully, aside failing to meet the masses’ expectations.
Another issue that may threaten Tinubu’s chances is age. Many Nigerians prefer a young person over the aged because the old had governed for years without concrete effects. Lives and properties are unprotected and terrorists maraud the country unchallenged. I can’t tell, but, can Nigeria hold a free and fair election amid insecurity? Not likely.
Security plays a vital role in the electoral process. Are Lawal, Dogara, and Obi aware of that? If yes, why are they playing politics of religion and region? Don’t they know that they can throw the country into turmoil? The truth of the matter is that Nigerians are getting wiser more than ever before and they will not subscribe to negativity because everyone is tired of crisis.
Ahead of 2023, political gladiators like Dogara, Lawal, and even the electorates must eschew politics of religion and regional identity. If we must get it right in next year’s polls, then how to bring the country out of the wood should concern the frontline presidential aspirants.
And the only way they can tell us that they will act in good conscience is by ensuring that their campaigns are nothing, but issue-based.
Hussein writes from Abuja