January 4, 2015 by Kambili M.A. Chimalu
Once every four years or so, we hold a public farce that passes for a free and fair democratic election. Election season is in the air once again in Nigeria and it is bringing out the worst in some of our fellow Nigerians. Of course, politics is a dirty game and with this game comes a barrage of mud-slinging, name calling, and ignorance, with just a hint of hatred for the “other” stirred in for good measure.
The two elephants battling it out for the office of the President this go round are Goodluck Jonathan/Namadi Sambo and Muhammadu Buhari/Yemi Osinbajo, and the grass that always invariably suffers is the ordinary Nigerian. I am not here to debate the merits of either candidate, but there is a trend in Nigerian politics that always troubles me:
The mixing of religion/tribalism and politics.
When I see images like the ones above, I am overcome with a sense of rage because I realize that these politicians are appealing to Nigerians’ deep belief in religion/the church/the divine. They are not presenting Nigerians with their campaign platform. They are not presenting Nigerians with their “7 point agendas.” They are simply relying on manipulating religion to suit their purpose. I am also shown the stark hypocrisy of the politicians because it is the same politicians that prostrate before these mega-pastors, all in the name of spirituality, that will descend on our treasury and plunder it until it can be plundered no more.
In visiting these men of God, politicians continue to try to manipulate Nigerians by serving us hypocrisy instead of policy.
Just as they manipulate religion, they just ever-so-subtly bring tribe into the midst. When they open this pandora’s box, they step back and watch Nigerians tear themselves to pieces over irrelevant matters instead of scrutinizing these politicians’ campaign platform.
For instance, some Nigerians are so busy squabbling over the inconsequential issue of Muslim/Muslim, Christian/Christian, Muslim/Christian, Christian/Muslim, Igbo/Hausa, Hausa/Yoruba, etc. ticket that they forget to ask these politicians what the heck they plan to do for Nigeria once elected.
How do they plan to tackle the issues of youth unemployment, lack of security, inadequate healthcare system, substandard educational system, inadequate infrastructure, power, terrorism, corruption/stealing (stealing public money and corruption are apparently two separate things), an economy that is largely dependent on one commodity, and tribalism? These are questions that people don’t ask when they focus on superficial things like religion and tribe.
Politics and religion/tribe are very fine institutions that should be kept separate from one another. There should be a dividing giant brick wall to ensure that the two NEVER EVER interfere with one another. Once these institutions are combined, the distrust and hatred that certain people have for “others” bubble to the surface, thereby causing reason and rational thought to fly out the window.
Once we let go of the tribe/religion discourse, we can then truly focus on what truly matters.
As a nation, we should see one another as Nigerians first and every other thing second. A politician’s religion or lack of religion should not be the basis for electing him/her. Likewise, a politician’s tribe should not be the basis for anyone’s vote. A politician prostrating before mega-pastors, Imams, native priests, a personal ogwugwu afor shrine, an enlarged photo of Naira bills, or a well cooked nsala soup and pounded yam should not be a tool of manipulation strong enough to convince Nigerians to vote against their self-interest.
If politicians like, they should prostrate before a moving trailer. We should not give a fuck about that. After all the prostrating, they must still present us with their campaign platform, which we will consider before deciding if they get our vote.
Please my fellow Nigerians, Vote wisely. Do not vote tribe. Do not vote religion.