APGA, SDP chairmen say competence, not religion should matter to Nigerians

By CHAM SHARON

“Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst.” ~ C.S. Lewis

YOU know it is strangely funny and ridiculous when those who have tirelessly waged a “holy war” of lies and propaganda against the APC, right from its conception and registration in 2013 and even after its well-fated triumph in the 2015 general elections through to another round of resounding triumph in 2019, are still rehashing the very same lies and propaganda that couldn’t help them defeat the party in 2015 and 2019.

But then, like every good bible reader will know, Sanballats and Tobiahs are never ever tired of lies and mischief against the Nehemiahs that have been divinely appointed to rebuild burnt and broken walls and cities.

To lay the proper context of this essay as it relates to rebuilding burnt and broken walls and cities, let me quickly say that had it been that the APC nay General Muhammadu Buhari did not win the 2015 elections, the countless roads and bridges that have been built now, and are still being built, plus the numerous railway projects that have been built and are still being built within the space of just seven years wouldn’t have been possible.

And that’s not all. We have seen within the same time frame massive investments in various other infrastructural projects like the Zungeru hydroelectric dam, the Kashimbila dam and many other dams, deep seaports, dry inland ports, remodelling of airports, new Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) parks, and many others too numerous to name here.

And that’s even without mentioning the unprecedented defence procurements made by this APC administration, that is, in the areas of acquisitions of new warships, fighter jets and artillery, without also enumerating the massive investments in local food production that has helped in turning our farmers into empowered entities.

For reasons of time and space, I wouldn’t also venture into details of the administration’s unprecedented National Social Investment Programmes that are either feeding our primary school pupils in their schools or are giving vulnerable people in our villages a minimum of N10,000 each (it has been raised to N20,000 now) every month or even the N-Power scheme that is helping tens of thousands of graduates to live dignified lives.

In a nutshell, under this APC administration, Nigeria has become a huge construction site whereby everywhere you look or travel to, you will not miss seeing a federal project or some federal projects being executed.

And it is for this same reason that the traditional enemies of the party nay the Buhari administration have been shamelessly either saying “democracy is not all about infrastructure” or that “infrastructure does not develop the economy”, which makes you wonder what else then makes them always trooping to Dubai to enjoy, or what makes POS (cash points) to be growing astronomically during this administration, almost at 2 yards of each other on virtually every street in Nigeria, if infrastructural development does not grow the economy!

In layman’s terms, will there be such abundance of POS terminals if there is scarcity of money occasioned by a crippled economy, as they always claim, or how could a scarce commodity or item have such abundance of vending points in the same society whose perpertual naysayers keep saying it is scarce?

That new projects are being executed and commissioned, especially roads and bridges, is enough testament to the fact that the Buhari administration inherited a carcass of a country, which was clothed in a false (or procured) garment of “largest economy in Africa” in 2014. You know it was a false garment when you reckon that when the Buhari administration came on board at the end of May 2015, about 27 states were owing their workers up to 14 months wages and the federal government it replaced in that same month was borrowing funds from banks to pay its own workers!

So, what manner of largest-economy-in-Africa was that which couldn’t pay wages without even mentioning pensions for pensioners, or how could a country be labelled the largest economy in Africa when all its roads, bridges and railways have collapsed, with even large chunks of its territory seized by insurgents and the remaining parts living in daily fear of car bombs or suicide bombers?

What infrastructure made it labelled in such glorious term when there were no heavy projects going on to create jobs and business opportunities for legitimate wealth, and when there were no smooth roads and rails for easy, cheaper movements of goods and services?

It was this same state of carcass that the Sanballats and Tobiahs wanted Nigeria to remain, for which, in cahoots with the PDP, they mounted a strident campaign of lies and propaganda that the APC was an Islamic party coming to islamize the country. No space was spared, including pulpits, in that campaign of lies and fear-mongering, and the question they dodged (and are still dodging) is: If the APC was an Islamic party with the agenda of islamizing the country, then what alternative have they offered Nigerians to free them from the PDP that turned the country into a Hobbesian State where life became short and brutish, with citizens seeing good roads and trains only in foreign movies or the Internet?

Having sworn their fidelity to the PDP, and after spending the last seven years maligning and antagonizing the APC while even comfortably enjoying much of the services and infrastructure built by the party, what makes them think they possess any fibre of authority or morality to dictate how the party picks its candidates for various political offices in the forthcoming elections?

Oh yes, the party seeks to lead the country again, and while all citizens have the right as stakeholders to influence or choose the emergence of the country’s leaders, the political engineering process has already guaranteed a plurality of choices from which every person or interest group can align themselves to pursue their legitimate aspirations, which is why there are 17 presidential tickets already on the ballot of the 2023 elections.

As such, why should it be an issue when just a single party out of the 17 chooses to pair people of same on its presidential ticket when there is an avalanche of choices available? And even more telling is, why should this even be an issue or a problem to those who hate the party and have never ever forgiven it for throwing them out of the circuit of power in 2015?

If their purported outrage against the Muslim-Muslim ticket were to be counted as holy outrage or truly about social justice or about the unity of this country, then they should or could have directed that so called outrage to their beloved PDP who, in spite of noisy clamour for power shift or zoning of the presidency to the South in 2023, chose to cede their ticket to the North.

Of course, from their deafening silence to that outright subversion of their favourite party’s zoning arrangement, it can be deduced that they were all in agreement to the heavily touted idea amongst them that the quickest and easiest way for them to get back to power in order to continue to eat Nigeria like ice cream was for their ticket to be taken back to the North. In other words, they wouldn’t mind power being retained in the North, so long as there will be a resumption of the steady flow of easy money – like in those days when they believed we had no needs for roads, bridges, railways and better social services.

As a political strategy to gain power, no one should begrudge their party, the PDP for throwing away zoning in order for power to remain in the North since their calculation was purely based on the very large voting population in the region, which is largely Muslim.

But what can be faulted is, if their favourite party can go so brutally cold to subvert zoning as a political strategy for coming back to power, then why should the APC be begrudged or faulted when it also goes brutally cold in its calculations to checkmate PDP’s cold strategy with a Muslim-Muslim ticket, since the winner of the ticket is a Muslim from the South, which consequently makes it very compelling to neutralize or subvert PDP’s cold calculation of cornering the large Muslim voters in the North?

Simply put, it was strategy against strategy, which is allowed either in business or politics or in governance and sports, so long as it is legitimate, which makes it outrightly hypocritical for elements or well-known supporters of the other side to be making inane and insane noises about the strategy of the other side.

President or any other southern Christian gunning for the party’s presidential ticket in favour of Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu the winner during the last APC presidential primaries?

It is said that they worked against their religious brethren in the South in the hope that either of them would be picked as running mate to the Southern Muslim winner, because they expected the choice to be narrowed down to Northern Christians. In other words, they played their own little plot of “conquering, subjugating and suppressing” their own southern brethren (Christians) for their own selfish interests. In that case, who told them that the cliché ‘What goes around comes around’ wouldn’t be fulfilled against them, or that the dictum in Galatians chapter 6 verse 10 that says ‘whatsoever a man sows shall he reap’ will not be fulfilled against them?

In the case of Dogara, the sense of selfishness was so palpable that he even borrowed a propaganda phrase the PDP and their partners used against the party prior to the 2015 elections by saying the APC was “going Janjaweed” because his expectation and that of Babachir was not met.

Simply put, when the party’s dominant majority put forth all its machinery and influence to make him Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2015, and also made his sidekick Babachir Lawal the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the party wasn’t going Janjaweed but it is only going Janjaweed after their own personal ambitions were cut short, right?

And by labelling the party that gave him the privilege of ever being the country’s number 4 citizen in such terms, he tends to suggest that the party should go to blazes for refusing or failing to put a cone of ice cream in his hands like it did in 2015, isn’t it? What an excellent case study for selfishness!

Essentially, the point this essay seeks to establish is, we keep seeing selfish individuals and groups always trying to project their selfish desires by couching them as religious interests. Hardly, especially in this part of the world, will you ever see them plainly presenting demands that will build their people or the nation.

And I am talking about demands like roads, bridges, new schools, hospitals, markets, agriculture, electricity, and all other infrastructure that will make life easy and meaningful as well as social safety programnes like free school feeding, monthly cash grants to the poor, bailout grants to weak entrepreneurs and skills acquisition trainings for graduates.

These, and other welfarist projects and programmes, are all issues that religion should be concerned about, but instead of championing those causes they keep polarizing the proletariat along ethnic or religious lines whenever their selfish quests for power-grab becomes threatened.

Moreover, well before Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced Senator Kashim Shettima as his running mate on Sunday, July 10, 2022, virtually all the groups, individuals and clerics running high temperatures over the APC’s Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket have already made their choices openly. A video of a famous Abuja based female pastor that runs one of the city’s megachurches in which she endorsed a particular “Christian” presidential candidate and boasted that he was going to win the 2023 election without structures circulated tremendously online.

Another video of another famous Abuja cleric also circulated in which he was ordering and warning his followers to vote in defence of their faith, after making some unsavoury or uncomplimentary comments on the Fulani. It was a trend that preceded the choice Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu made, which confirms my assertion earlier that all the noises and bellyaching against APC’s Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket were purely hypocritical and without substance.

If you have already jumped the gun and made a political choice purely based on religious sentiments instead of substance and public service record, then why heat up the polity with such bile and bellicosity after a political party you have always unjustly hated makes its own choice? Aren’t you supposed to accord them the same democratic rights you used to arrive at your own publicly known endorsements? In sports, it can be related to how fans of a particular football club will be bellyaching and expressing sour grapes over the decision of a rival club to hire the best legs to its team.

Finally, it cannot be controverted or faulted if we say religious leaders can make governance for politicians easy if they stick to their divine mandate of transforming people into godly and productive citizens instead of turning them into lazy, unproductive hatemongering machines. Evidences abound in all our streets, neighbourhoods, work places, cities, villages and everywhere that religion has failed.

It failed because of abdication of duty and responsibility by those who parade themselves as clerics. The male youths that lure their girlfriends to hotels and murder them for rituals or that see female panties hung to dry as a spiritual medium to quickly get wealthy are evidences of failure of family upbringing and poor religious teachings. So also are those ones that have taken to Internet scam, kidnappings, robberies, sex trade and illicit drugs trafficking.

And you will think that religious leaders will become contrite, own up to their failures and then recommit themselves to the job which they claim to have been given them by God Almighty, but no, they have chosen to dodge responsibility by making loud diversionary noises and interfering in political matters that require uncommon sobriety and reflection. Even when they have failed in helping to build a functional society through their divine obligations, they still constitute themselves into clogs in the wheels of progress by constantly making declamations and haranguing politicians who genuinely want to build our nation.

There is no doubt that the Tinubu/Kashim presidential ticket holds the greatest prospect in continuing the massive infrastructural revolution embarked upon by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration just as it holds the best guarantee in continuing with the ongoin agricultural revolution of the administration.

Submitting to blackmail from the dark forces that have waged relentless wars against these monumental achievements will be unpardonably costly for the country. Democracy is democracy. It should not be tampered or moderated by the autocratic whims of those whose understanding of democracy is shallow. Let all parties mobilize, and let the best with the best trajectory of visible achievements win. As is said in the Olympics: Let the Games Begin.

•Cham Faliya Sharon can be reached on Twitter @ChamSharon

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