By Ralph Madugu
The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) has declared that it is “insensitive and unconscionable” for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to re-enact a Muslim-Muslim ticket ahead of the 2023 presidential elections “after 13 years of Islamist insurgency in Nigeria.”
The NCEF said it had been observing events preparatory to the 2023 elections particularly “the intrigues and horse trading by the political class” which showed that they had not learnt any lesson from the errors of the past.
The Christian organization NCEF made its position known in a document released recently titled “Towards 2023 Elections: Position of NCEF” signed by its Chairman, Dr. S.D Gani, and Secretary, Bosun Emmanuel, and cautioned that Nigeria could not continue doing the same things repeatedly and expect different results.
It stated that of particular concern was the resurgence of the Muslim-Muslim ticket proposed by the All Progressive Congress (APC).
The elder’s acknowledged that though Nigerians voted for MKO Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe in a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 1993, the situation in the country was no longer the same.
They added that the argument that religion should not be brought into politics stood reason on its head adding that it was “absurd that the architects and sponsors of politics of religion in Nigeria could suddenly become advocates of no religion in politics to further their agenda of turning Nigeria into an Islamic theocratic state.”
NCEF attributed the problem of the country to “the conflict between Democracy and Sharia ideology in the 1999 Constitution” and pointed out that Sharia in the constitution was the real politics of religion.
“The least that the APC could do is to resolve the conflict of ideologies in Nigeria by enacting a new constitution having democracy as the sole national ideology and not attempt to worsen an already bad situation by giving political preference to a particular religion.
“If a Muslim-Muslim ticket should be permitted to stand, under whatever guise, it implies that after eight years of President Buhari, a Muslim from the North, there will be another eight years of a Muslim from the South after which the North will insist that power should rotate back for eight years of another Muslim President. By the time Nigeria completes the cycle of 24 years of Muslim presidents, the Islamization agenda would be complete.”
According to NCEF, both the PDP and APC had demonstrated “callous insensitivity to the problems caused by religious intolerance in Nigeria” adding that by floating two Muslim presidential candidates, both PDP and APC had confirmed their commitment to politics of religion.
On what it described as “Democracy under threat, the group urged Nigerians to realize that the issue playing out is deliberate attempt to destroy democracy in Nigeria and supplant it with Sharia as the national ideology and source of legislation.
It maintained that the issue is not about Christians alone but about Nigerians who love liberty, justice, equality, and fairness and cautioned Nigerians not to see the rejection of the Muslim-Muslim ticket as Christian objection but an objection by every Nigerian in favour of democracy which guarantees freedom of choice, freedom of expression, and freedom of worship.
“If Nigerians should open their eyes and permit the Muslim-Muslim ticket to stand, or the election of a Muslim Presidential candidate in 2023, then Nigerians would have voted for a sectional national ideology to replace the liberty upon which Nigeria was established as a country. Nigerians are fiercely independent people and would suffer a lot if their liberty is curtailed under a discriminatory religious ideology.
NCEF posited that the choice before Nigerians in 2023 is between democracy or Sharia, liberty or bondage, and equality or discrimination stating that the past seven years of the Buhari administration is a foretaste of what is to come, with increasing intensity.
“Already, Sharia ideology is demonstrating its aversion for western education and civilization with the closure of universities for many months. An educated populace is not a preference of sponsors of Sharia ideology. The Almajiris of northern Nigeria is credible evidence,” NCEF stated.
NCEF said it was not unmindful of the activities of political jobbers, particularly in the Church, and cautioned those who place money above moral values to take heed.
“There are 389 ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and 386 of these nationalities do not subscribe to any religious ideology as way of life. The ethnic nationalities should talk to each other and realize that if they mishandle the 2023 elections, they would have signed their descendants off as “dhimmis” (second class citizens) in their land of nativity and released their ancestral land for possession by those who manipulate religion for cultural and political domination.
“After the discriminatory and insensitive administration of President Buhari, Nigeria requires a breath of fresh air from intolerance and discrimination. Before coming into power, President Buhari was quoted affirming his pro-Sharia conviction and stated unequivocally that he was prepared to fight another civil war to ensure that Nigeria became Sharia compliant. The past seven years confirmed that he meant every word that he uttered.”
Under the circumstances, NCEF advised ethnic nationalities in Nigeria to resist the Muslim-Muslim ticket as well as replacement of President Buhari by another Muslim urging that Nigeria requires respite from 13 years of daily bloodshed by Islamist insurgents.
“A Muslim President should not replace President Buhari so that balance can be restored to the country. The liberty and security of Nigerians depend on it.
“It amounts to pure mischief to make the Muslim-Muslim ticket a Christian versus Muslim affair. It is deeper than that. We are dealing with democracy versus Sharia. The national ideology and identity of Nigeria is at stake. There is a deliberate attempt to distort the DNA of Nigeria and reformat the country into what it was not established to be. If the ethnic nationalities should permit this to stand, they would have consigned their descendants into perpetual bondage. Already, the Fulanis boast openly that they are born-to-rule, and that God has given them Nigerian as their inheritance. 2023 election is the decisive year.
“The Muslim-Muslim ticket is a deliberate ploy by the northern oligarchy to extend its feudalism beyond the North to the rest of the country. If it should work, all Nigerians will suffer the consequences. The Yoruba Muslims, the Ibo Muslims, the Ijaw Muslims, and every other citizen will become “dhimmis”. It is unfortunate that desperation for political power made some politicians to acquiesce to this conspiracy.
“It should be emphasized that Muslim-Muslim ticket should not be perceived as conflict between Christianity and Islam. This is a major distraction. The real target is the ethnic nationalities that own Nigeria. The ethnic nationalities consist of Christians, Muslims, traditionalists, and free thinkers. The Muslim-Muslim ticket is only in the interest of the northern oligarchy even though efforts will be made to persuade Muslims nationwide to support it. From the way the way the northern oligarchy ran the North aground, Muslims from the other regions will not benefit anything in the long run.”
While advocating for the promotion of democracy which NCEF term as the sole national ideology upon which the founding fathers of Nigeria birthed the country on the principles of freedom of choice, freedom of expression, and freedom of worship hence Nigerians must do everything possible to maintain liberty in the country and not “place coming generations in bondage.”