The Dangers Of Religious Politics

(By Usman Abdulhamid Kasim)

Ignorance is a deadly disease, so virulent that it can fatally threaten our democracy. Which law says that a Muslim should not accept public appointment under a Christian President? Which law also says that a Christian should not accept appointment under a Muslim President?  If the so-called “arna” (infidels) are insignificant, why do Muslim candidates campaign for votes in Christian States?

Nigeria is a secular country and, therefore, religion is not a qualification for public office. Whipping up religious sentiments to make any politician to look bad or expose him to hatred is not only irresponsible, but also reckless and dangerous. Religion is an emotive issue and should not therefore be allowed to creep into politics to cause division, disharmony, disunity and conflicts among the people.

A case in point is the demonetization of the new Minister of Education, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau by APC supporters from Kano State on the Facebook. One of them posted a comment describing former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau as “wakilinarna” (agent or representative of infidels). Does a Muslim become an “agent” of the so-called “infidels” once he accepts to serve his country in any capacity? Are all Muslims appointed into public offices by the Jonathan administration “agents” of the so-called “arna” (infidels) because the President is Christian? Is Nigeria an Islamic State? If our politics is based on religion, why did General Buhari pick Pastor TundeBakare as his running mate? If Nigeria is a Christian State, why did the President appoint NamadiSambo as his Vice President in 2011?

Ignorance is a deadly disease, so virulent that it can fatally threaten our democracy. Which law says that a Muslim should not accept public appointment under a Christian President? Which law also says that a Christian should not accept appointment under a Muslim President?  If the so-called “arna” (infidels) are insignificant, why do Muslim candidates campaign for votes in Christian States?

My worry is that the people propagating this dangerous message appear to be educated. Religious bigotry and intolerance should not be allowed to harm the larger interest of this country. Shekarau is a Nigerian and, therefore, nobody has the right to stop him from serving his country. Religious bigots are enemies of peace. They constantly seek to create tension, using religion to incite people. When Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso accepted appointment as Minister of Defence under President Obasanjo, why didn’t Shekarau supporters call him “wakilinarna” (agent of infidels)?

APC supporters, mainly in the north, are playing dangerous religious politics, which will ultimately harm them. Whatever they publish today, might be used against them in future. It is irresponsible and reckless.  Relying on religious sentiments to woo voters is the most dangerous political strategy. Kwankwaso has a Presidential ambition and this aspiration may be jeopardized if APC supporters continue to play up religious sentiments to woo the sympathy of the voters. Are there no Muslims in PDP?  Does their membership of PDP mean they are no longer Muslims?

Parochialism of this magnitude may boomerang against the APC supporters. Whatever they publish or post on the social media will go on record against them. And by the time they realize their fatal political errors, it may be too late. As Mahatma Gandhi said, there are two people in the world: good people and bad people, regardless of which religion they belong to.

Does Shekarau have the right to change his political affiliation from APC to PDP if he felt aggrieved? If Kwankwaso was not denigrated for defecting from PDP to APC because he was aggrieved, why should Shekaraube vilified for exercising the same democratic right?

Since his decision to move to PDP, Shekarau has been a victim of unfair attacks. I hate fake moral posturing. APC supporters are taking advantage of the gullibility of majority of northern Muslims to deceive the people. Unfortunately, politicians succeed in religious manipulation because majority of the people have short memories. If Kwankwaso was not branded “agent” of the infidels when he abandoned AbubakarRimi and voted for Obasanjo during the 2003 PDP National convention, why should Shekarau be laballed “agent of infidels”?

This kind of dangerous hypocrisy should be exposed by concerned Nigerians in order to underline the consequences of exploiting religious sentiments to incite Muslims of the north against Shekarau. He is a man of peace; he is one of the calmest and humblest politicians you can ever meet. He promoted peaceful coexistence in Kano State and tackled the perennial water crisis the state was facing. He made non-indigenes feel safe under his rule. He paid attention to the state of poor infrastructure in SabonGari, which suffered neglect for years.

Out of sheer wickedness, however, APC supporters are now telling us that Shekarau is an agent of “arna” (infidels), and that he achieved

“nothing” as governor. His only “crime” was that he left APC for PDP. They labeled him an opportunist, but they forgot that Kwankwaso ditched his political mentor, the late Mohammed AbubakarRimi, to pitch his political tent with Obasanjo.  Some of Shekarau’s appealing virtues are his humility and intelligence. He doesn’t believe in being worshipped and glorified by his followers; he doesn’t believe in personality cult. Above all, he doesn’t believe in keeping an army of political thugs to harass anybody.

Source: Blueprint

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