By Kunle Edun

The political parties have had their primaries and produced candidates for the various elective offices. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the presidential candidate of the APC. Alhaji Abubakar Atiku is the presidential candidate of the PDP while the Labour Party has Peter Obi as its presidential candidate. Other political parties are not left out. Campaign is now on in full stream by the political parties.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has directed the political parties to pick their Vice Presidential candidates by Friday, this week. There is now frenzy in all the parties, particularly the major political parties of APC and PDP, to beat the deadline. Tinubu of the APC is a Muslim from the South-Western part of Nigeria while Atiku of the PDP is a Muslim. Speculations are rife whether a Muslim/Muslim President/Vice President ticket will be a winning formula or whether a Muslim/Christian ticket will be better. As at the time of writing this piece, the political parties were yet to pick their vice presidential candidates.

In all the conversations about which shared/joint religious ticket will work, none of the political parties are considering competence, patriotism and merit. Section 10 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended guarantees that Nigeria is a secular State and that religion must have no place in the affairs of the State. Unfortunately, this sacred provision is obeyed more in defiance than in compliance by the same political leaders who were elected and swore to uphold the provisions of the Constitution. The twin evil of religious extremism and ethnicity has done devastating damage than good in Nigeria.

Inspite of the fact that at various times, Nigeria have produced both Muslim and Christian Presidents and Governors, the country still remains a very under-developed and ‘poor’ country. Religion should have no place when we are searching for genuine leaders. Many Nigerian leaders 9most with public funds) are quick to travel to Dubai, Paris and New York for vacation or pretentious official visitations but don’t care about the religion of the leaders of those countries. Those beautiful Countries are the products of visionary leadership, not religious bigots or tribal warlords.

As it is now, after 60 years of Independence, Nigerians should be talking about more important things that can make Nigeria become one of the fastest growing countries in the world and the person that can make that happen. Obasanjo is a Christian. To what extent did his religion benefit the Christians in Nigeria? What about Buhari? Has the average Muslim felt better in the past 8 years? As we have Muslim bad leaders, so do we also have Christian bad leaders? When public officials loot public funds they forget their religion and tribes. A good and visionary leader anywhere will never be distracted by the chants of religious bigots but only how he can improve the lives of his people. Therefore, whether the APC or PDP makes it a Muslim/Muslim ticket, Nigerians should not be deceived but look beyond the religion of the pairs and dig into their antecedents and what they actually stand for.

The Nigerian masses have suffered too much and do not care who rules them provided that they can have food on their table and have a good place to lay their heads comfortably. There is the view that it is only in poor countries that religion thrives, where the leaders make religion a policy of State as a means to perpetuate the ignorance and poverty of the people for their selfish benefits. Religion is therefore, weaponized. This is a deceit by the politicians on the innocent Nigerians and must be rejected by all patriotic Nigerians.

NB: This piece was written before candidates filed in supposed placeholders

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