Peace Beyond 2011
As Nigerians go to the polls from Saturday the 2nd of April, it is necessary to give a thought to the need for Nigeria to survive and play her vital and influential roles with the other leading nations of the world after the elections are over. Nigeria has all that it takes to play these roles on the African continent and at the United Nations, for her to play leading roles within these two spheres, she must remain in peace and her citizens must have a sense of security. These two essentials- peace and a sense of security- therefore need to be on the mind of every Nigerian who is registered to vote as he or she exercises his or her voting rights at these general elections slated for the next three weekends starting from the second of April this year.
LET US HAVE PEACE!
Peace is a non-negotiable essential in Nigeria with her religious and ethnic differences. Our experiences have not been encouraging as these two aspects of our communal and corporate existence have often been used as reasons for the destruction of lives and property in the country at large and the northern states in particular. The role religion has played and still playing in the ongoing elections is also a reason for voters to be careful as they cast their votes for those wanting to lead us for the next four years. In the light of this, Nigerian eligible voters are being called upon to vote for men and women who will not only promise to work for peace and peaceful coexistence among Nigerians, but leaders who will practically work for peace while in office and give Nigerians a sense of belonging.
In the light of the above, it is necessary to weigh very carefully each of the candidates seeking for national offices like the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in particular. It is the opinion of this writer that in order to give the two major religious communities in the country a sense of belonging and also the opportunity to make useful contributions to governance, should the presidential candidate be a Christian, his Vice Presidential candidate must be a Muslim. The desire to have both candidates coming from the same religious community is not healthy and it is very likely to be a source of unforeseen disasters in the near future. Similarly, any presidential candidate and the running mate must not be religious leaders with their own congregations. Such a candidate already has a constituency and the effort to remain neutral in governance would also look unhealthy, pretentious and hypocritical.
There are those who would refer to countries where this factor is a non-issue, that would be good for such countries but in the light of Nigeria being unique in terms of her religious mix between Islam and Christianity, such a practice will not work and it would be perceived as a deliberate plan to make governance impossible. To put it bluntly, Christian-Christian or Muslim-Muslim candidate will not and cannot work in Nigeria for now! Furthermore, it unhealthy for any religious or traditional leader to seek for a national political position in Nigeria today, it is divisive.
This recommendation to have both the executive and his vice from each of the two communities is also recommended for some states within the federation that have an almost equal number of both the Christian and Muslim communities like Kaduna, Niger, Plateau, Kwara, Kogi, Oyo, Lagos, Ogun and a few others. Nigeria has suffered enough from crises that often wear a religious facade though research has shown that the factors are multiple-faceted, they are a combination of economic, ethnic and religious principally. As the government make every effort to provide security, encourage development and improve the living standards of the country, the electorate must prevent decisions that will work against these good intentions. The electorate must, as a sign of civic responsibility, cast their votes for the presidential and gubernatorial positions representatives from the two main religious communities that make up over 90% of the population of this nation. This, it seems to me is a way of giving Nigerian Muslims and Christians a sense of belonging and an opportunity to be stakeholders in the government of the day. This is a positive and honest way of moving Nigeria forward in peace and prosperity.
I have one vote for each of these two sensitive positions in our country, this vote will be cast for the presidential and gubernatorial candidates who will give me a sense of belonging, promote peace and peaceful coexistence between my Muslim neighbour and I and also promote a spirit of respect and acceptance between and among the various ethnic groups within the country. I call on all eligible voters in the country to pray, weigh the points made in this article and vote for the unity, progress and stability of our dear country by casting their votes for those who will give them a sense of belonging, participation in governance and a sense of security.
Josiah Idowu Fearon ( Ph.D)