OPIUM is a highly addictive narcotic drug extracted from the dried milky juice of the unripe seed capsules of the opium poppy. It is used in medicine to bring sleep and also relieve pain. In general term, opium is anything which has a soothing, calming or dulling effect on people’s minds. Like opium, religion also has a soothing, calming or dulling effect on people’s minds, hence the usual reference to it as the opium of the people. Although some social scientists postulate that the fear that man does not know where he goes after death drives him into religion, there are other motives behind man’s drive into religion especially in Nigeria. One of such motives is economic and that is why most pastors especially in Pentecostal churches are preaching prosperity gospel and insisting that their God is not poor.
Another motive is political. Politicians, especially in Nigeria, use religion to gain political power or position. That is why Nigeria still has stunted grow almost 54 years after it got its political independence because of the stubborn insistence on Christian-Muslim or North- South balancing equation in power sharing rather than looking at the ability of the holder of a particular office to perform. Just recently, this proclivity was on display when Sa’adu Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, led a delegation of some Muslim leaders to Aso Rock Villa, to protest to President Goodluck Jonathan, over the imbalance in the number of delegates to the ongoing national conference. As far as they were concerned, performance at the conference was not the issue but religious balancing. Many political analysts are of the view that religion and ethnicity are at the root of the current security challenges the country is now facing. The challenges are not likely to go away as long as some elite are determined to exploit religion or ethnicity to gain political power.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, which is determined to wrestle power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is also playing the religious card. It wants to field a Muslim of northern extraction as its candidate in next year’s presidential election to counter Jonathan, a Christian, who is likely to emerge as the presidential candidate of the PDP. It seems to have boxed itself into a corner because Ahmed Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos state, who is the national leader of the party, is said to have an interest in being part of the presidential ticket next year. This is the basis of the Muslim-Muslim ticket speculation which appears to be gaining ground within and outside the party. While some party members express fear that such an arrangement can boomerang, others insist that it will not because what Nigeria needs today to get out of its economic morass are leaders who can perform regardless of what faith they profess.
This is the subject of our cover story for this week entitled “Can APC Muslim-Muslim Ticket Work?” Olu Ojewale, general editor, who crafted the story, examines the workability of such a political arrangement against the backdrop that a recent SMS poll conducted in the 36 states, Abuja and the Diaspora, by ‘For The Future Nigeria,’ a political action committee affiliated to the APC, on its website, revealed that the highest percentage of those polled favoured a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Were the poll results manipulated to achieve a purpose? If they were genuine, why is the strategy committee of the party headed by Babatunde Fashola, Lagos State governor, warning against a Muslim-Muslim ticket? All these are captured by Ojewale in his story. It is a must-read. Enjoy it.
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— May 12, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT