Christians in the 19 Northern States and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, rose from their meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, affirming their earlier stance on the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Their stiff opposition has continued despite persuasions by the hierarchy of the APC, as well as the presidential candidate, Awiwaju Bola Tinubu.
With this development, InfoStride News reports that religion and ethnicity remain the possible determinant factor ahead of the presidential election.
Nigeria has always been faced with the issues of ethnicity, religion, zoning and other sentiments during every election year and these factors always play major roles in deciding the candidate and political party that wins the presidential election.
And while many political observers believe that the twin factors of ethnicity and religion would be major factors in influencing next year’s election, some other analysts believe that Nigerians would be seriously looking at other issues, such as the past eight years, which according to them, produced nothing but pain and poverty.
Another issue of concern to most Nigerians is that of power shift. The Governors from the south had made it clear in several meetings that power must come to the region after President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years.
And while the ruling APC has managed to produce a Southern candidate, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, shattered the idea of zoning and produced a Northern candidate. This, some political analysts also see as a big factor going into the election. This argument has gained majority support across the South and the Middle Belt regions.
Among the presidential candidates that have emerged on various political platforms so far, four seem to be somewhat popular and with a chance to emerge winner in the presidential poll. But among the four, the choice of running mate for the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu, has generated a lot of controversies. The former Lagos State Governor, a Muslim by faith, went on to pick another Muslim, Kashim Shettima as his running mate.
To add to this, the fact that the four most popular presidential candidates have come from some of the major zones of the country has added to this ethnic sentiments and politicians are not helping matters as they found this as a basis to whip up divisions among Nigerians.
However, Dr. Emeka Nwosu, a political analyst and former Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs to ex-Senate President, Evan Enwerem, who spoke to DAILY POST, said that though ethnicity and region cannot be overlooked, Nigerians would be more concerned about the hardship, economic meltdown and poverty in the land when deciding their next leader.
According to him, the people may not want to repeat the same mistake they made seven years ago and for this reason may want to try something different.
He was of the opinion that the next year’s election should not be based on ethnicity nor religion since the Christians and the Muslims go to the same market and share from the pains and poverty in the land.
He said the Nigerians would decide based on character and trust and competence.
“These issues [ethnicity and religion] are factors but are not going to be the predominant factors that will determine the outcome of the election,” Nwosu told the media.
“But as for whether they will play a role or not, definitely they will play a role because of the level of political consciousness and political education in our society.
“Because as you know, in many parts of the country, the level of education is still quite low. People cannot take decisions on their own or make political choices on their own, so some of these issues will play a role, but they will not be the predominant factor.
“Now we have seen where we are today coming from where Jonathan stopped us in 2015 and eight years after. Some of the things we’ve experienced in the last eight years will play a major role in terms of the living standard of the people, in terms of the deepening poverty in the land and the issue of insecurity.
“These things will play serious roles. The question you ask yourself is: those of them who come from the same ethnic group as the current President, to what extent have their lives been better? Are they better than those from other parts of the country? So, to a large extent, ethnicity and region may not play much roles.
“The common denominator is that everybody is suffering. So people will vote according to what they’re experiencing in the country. But let’s talk about balance, to the extent that the ticket of some political parties is not balanced; it is a drawback to such political parties.
“This is a primary society where the issues of region and ethnicity are still playing key roles. This is a plural and heterogeneous society and it is expected that the tickets are balanced. If a Muslim is the presidential candidate, it is expected that a Christian is the running mate, vise versa.
“And we see this playing out in APC. It is a factor. In the North no Christian is competent enough to be vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It generates a lot of concern by the majority of Christians in the North. But looking at it overall, if you look at Nigeria, what has religion or ethnicity given us? Instead it has continued to divide the country,” he added.
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