By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
As the gubernatorial and house of assembly elections draw near, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has advised Nigerians to reject candidates who manifest religious fanaticism.
This was stated in a press statement signed by the Director of the human rights organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Wednesday, 6thMarch, 2019.
“We have to get things right in this country. We heard some people making laughable predictions before the presidential elections. Their prognostications came to nothing. Some of them even said the president would die if he tried to contest. Well, you all saw what happened. The president contested and won the election. He is still as fit as a fiddle. But the funny thing is that some Nigerians are still following such opportunists and liars.
“It is clear that many people did not learn any lesson from that. No, not our people. We are still exploiting religious sentiment. A candidate in Oyo State distributed thousands of posters on which were inscribed the words: I am your brother in Faith, I need your support, prayer and vote. Nigerian Christians must vote and pray. Oyo State Chapter Urges Churches in Oyo State to vote …(name withheld) as Executive Governor of Oyo State 2019.
“That is how low we have descended. The only qualification a candidate now needs to possess is membership of our worship centers. Who did this to Nigeria? How can anyone hold this candidate accountable in governance when he has his brothers in faith to defend every wrong step he takes?
“No civilized society will allow political campaigns to take this lowly turn. It is kindergarten, pedestrian and puerile. What is the substance in this kind of appeal? There is nothing there to offer except faith and brotherhood. Where is competence? Where is respect for the rule of law? What does he have to say about the security of lives and properties? Where is the promise to deliver the dividends of democracy? Can anybody blame this candidate if he wins the election and syphons every kobo to private pockets?
“Candidates must showcase reasonable credentials and manifestos before we can support them. We must scrutinize their antecedents. Mere membership of the same mosque or church is not enough. That is sentiment. Thieves also worship in mosques and churches. Not everyone who wears a turban is an Imam and not everyone who wears a cassock is a cleric. Nigeria is a land of acrobatic religiousity and paradoxical criminality. If we are to judge by the proliferation of churches and mosques, there should be no single thief or drug dealer in Nigeria but the reverse is the case.
“MURIC calls on Nigerians to reject religious fanatics among the candidates warming up for the elections this Saturday, 9th March, 2019. Pastors and Imams who instruct their followers on who they should vote for are doing so for selfish reasons. They are saying it to the hearing of the candidates so that they can reap tremendous gains when the candidates win. The gains will come in form of huge tithes and sadaqah for the next four years and for doing virtually nothing.
“Tax-payers’ money that should be used to provide infrastructure will go into the pockets of individuals. Mallams and pastors will corner juicy contracts at the expense of genuine contractors. Yet they will end up doing shoddy jobs and governors will not be able to complain. Our roads will remain bumpy. The roofs of our school buildings will continue to leak. The state cannot make any palpable progress because instead of promoting economic progress, fanatical governors will encourage people to spend the whole of their lives praying on their knees in churches or on their mats in the mosques. These are candidates who turn religion into the people’s opium.
“That does not mean that we condemn prayers in toto. We should work hard and pray a little. Ora et labora. Don’t waste your vote on gymnastic fanatics. Don’t vote for any candidate because he belongs to your faith. Are you sure of his character? Are you sure he is competent? Vote for workaholics and seasoned technocrats. Vote for credible candidates. Vote for probity, accountability and transparency. Vote for men and women of honour. Vote for integrity.