By Emmanue Aziken
The two major political parties in the country are at the threshold of dragging God into their contest of ideas.
THE National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was unusually reticent when confronted with allegations that his party was tilted towards Islam during a recent interaction with newsmen in Lagos.
We know the impact of religion on our people and we do not want to use it as an issue despite the provocations by the PDP,” he told Vanguard. Officials of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, had in recent times sought to portray the leading opposition party as a party that was bent towards Muslims.
The PDP had in particular taken shots at the constitution of the APC national executive which the PDP said was dominated by Muslims.
The APC in line with its own pledge not to trigger the religion issue for most of the time kept away from responding except when some officials explained that the national executive was made up of almost an equal proportion of Muslims and Christians.
PDP officials, however, pressed that the principal offices were kept for Muslims while Christians were put up as deputies. The APC, irrespective of the pokes waived away the issue as it kept focus on its plans for the constitution of new executives at all levels following the largely successful membership registration exercise that ended a fortnight ago.
However, the issue of religion took another dimension at the weekend after the APC unveiled its manifesto at a well attended ceremony in the federal capital. Prints of the manifesto Even before the fine prints of the manifesto could reach the general public and even the media, the newly reinvented PDP publicity machine had dissected it and slammed it as lacking in character and content and the product of a janjaweed.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the manifesto which the All Progressives Congress (APC) released as a product of a Janjaweed ideology and the roadmap to anarchy.
The manifesto lacks character, depth and completely addressed no issue,” Chief Olisa Metuh, the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary said in a press statement last Thursday. The PDP noted that the manifesto put security low in the priority of the APC was a confirmation of what it described as the inclination of the party’s leaders to riotous behaviour.
“When last year in its first official outing, the leaders of the APC said terrorism in Nigeria would disappear within 100 days of APC leadership, Nigerians did ask if they knew the characters in crime and their sponsors. APC gave silence as an answer while Nigerians kept wondering. Today, the Party has released its manifesto with loud silence on the matter so that Nigerians would not raise further questions on the face behind the terrorism mask.”
The PDP reaction to the APC manifesto was a deconstruction of the roadmap convyed in a way to show the emptiness of the opposition party’s programmes. What was particularly new in the attack from the PDP was the claim that the roadmap was framed from Janjaweed ideology. The ideology obviously referred to the scorch earth policy of the Janjaweed militia in Sudan which had terrorised the population of Western Sudan.
It was an allegation that finally brought out the APC to battle the PDP on the matter of religion. The party last Sunday described the allegation as an act of religious blackmail and in furtherance of what it claimed as the ongoing campaign to portray the APC as an Islamic party.
APC’s spokesman, Mohammed in his reaction to the Janjaweed assertion by the PDP, said the PDP’s assertion was a deliberate attempt to put Nigerian Muslims in bad light describing the PDP as taking the road of religious escapism.
The only reason that the PDP used the word eJanjaweedf is because the militia that goes by that name comprises mostly, if not exclusively, of people of Arab/Muslim stock in Sudan.
This has further confirmed our fears that there is a clear attempt by the PDP, led by President Goodluck Jonathan, to divide Nigerians along religious lines as never before in the history of our country and to use religious as a political tool – a very dangerous move that can only result in religious warfare, from which no country that engages in it has ever survived intact.
Or how else can one explain the continuous attempt by the PDP, despite warnings from right thinking people and groups, to cast people of a certain faith, who constitute half of our countryfs population, as either terrorists or terror sympathizers/sponsors, or to label the APC as an Islamic party just to hang it? Couldnft the PDP have criticized our Road Map without resorting to its well-worn, dangerous game of religious blackmail?” APC queried.
Perhaps the PDP has mistaken our decision to take the high road and avoid religious and ethnic politics as a sign that it (PDP) is succeeding in its religious blackmail.
Therefore, we have decided to let Nigerians know that the sooner they repudiate this dangerous tactics by the PDP, the safer for our countryfh the party said as it pledged that it would not allow the PDP to distract it from its focus. Roadmap to perdition The PDP was unrepentant on Sunday as it reiterated that the APC was pursuing a Janjaweed ideology that is otherwise roadmap to perdition.
Metuh in the statement took a tactical reappraisal this time saying that the APC was not an Islamic party as he claimed the partyfs ideas fell short of the tenets of the religion. But he maintained his ground that the ideology of APC is the same as the Janjaweed of the Sudan just as he compared the APC to the pro-Christian Anti-Balaka movement in the Central African Republic which last year took up arms against the pro-Muslim leadership of the country.
Charging the APC to stop the heinous attempt at hiding under Islam to curry public sympathy, the PDP said the APC has since shown that it is a party that has no respect for Islam adding that no true Muslim would identify with a party made up of anarchists bound together by the lust to power and desperation to rule by any means including shedding of blood.
As if claiming that the Muslim elements in the APC were not faithful adherents, the PDP went ahead to claim that it had faithful Muslims in its leadership starting from its national chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu‘azu.
In a note reflective of religious fervour for which it had slammed the APC in the past, the PDP accused the opposition party of launching a manifesto replete with seven prominent sins.
APC actually launched 7(seven) cardinal SINS against the national interest namely;
1. Deceit and propaganda,2. Violence and destruction. 3. Lust for power. 4. Greed for money and insatiable acquisition of wealth. 5. Multiple and over-taxation. 6. Promotion of religious/tribal divisions and 7. Lack of respect for democratic tenets and principles.