In a ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) rally recently in Kano, the Nigerian Vice President, Namadi Sambo bragged of being a better Muslim because unlike his political opponents, his name was derived from Madinah (that historic Muslim city) and he goes there annually. He went ahead to call PDP a Muslim party after listing the names of Muslims currently holding key government appointments and wrapped up his speech with a poor recitation of the first chapter of the Holy Qur’an. This is not the first attempt of mockery on a religion in Nigeria but the monumental irrationality therein is worthy of acknowledgement. Earlier, certain Christian has compared President Goodluck Jonathan with Jesus Christ while some Christians complained bitterly on the opposition All Progressives’ Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to remove his cap during a christian prayer in a Thanksgiving event in Lagos. Some used that and concluded that Buhari can not rule Nigeria. Over the past few months, the polity and the media are saturated with all trivialities ignoring our common travails. Most of us seem to have forgotten the Chibok schoolgirls, the massacred Buni Yadi angels, the teeming unemployed and uneducated youth, the poor and the hungry constituting our majority, the tension and fear with which we live our lives, the numerous corruption scandals standing firm with impunity, the insults and embarrassments we face daily from international community and sadly the government that just doesn’t care. Most of us have forgotten the travails. Most of us discuss only the trivialities.
The problem with trivialities is that they remain what they are – insignificant! And if they have any significance, then it should be the distraction or diversion they cause. For what shall it benefit Christianity if Buhari removed his cap and shouted Haleluah when the thought of converting to Christianity may never cross his mind and for what shall it benefit Islam if Namadi Sambo recites the whole Qur’an (without the embarrassing errors) in all rallies and visits Madinah daily? All these will neither make Yobe safe nor will they bring back our girls.
But the travails have indispensable feature i.e commonality. They affect all of us! An Ijaw Christian living in the creeks of Bayelsa and wallowing in poverty can not fish in the waters in his environment due to oil spillage and desert encroachment daily eating Gombe land will equally prevent a hungry Tangale man from farming. Insurgencies have killed both Muslims and Christians and both churches and mosques are attacked. The leader of Boko Haram has called all Muslims non-adherent of his sect infidels and placed them in same category with Christians. To him we are all unbelievers and his enemies. The condition of public schools and the quality of education in the whole country is uniformly poor. These disasters will continue whether it is a saint, an atheist or the Satan himself ruling us. Only one thing can bring about change – a just government. Didn’t Shehu Usman Dan Fodiyo said a nation can survive with unbelief but never with injustice?
In saner climes, incumbent government presents what it has offered as a basis for re-election while the opposition tries to convince people how what it can offer is better than what the incumbent did. Unfortunately what the incumbent here has offered can not balance the resources at its disposal and it has also woefully failed in its most primary responsibilities. Sadly, instead of recurrent teachers strike, we are talking of Secondary School Certificate of one man (who happened to attend the best defence and war colleges in the world) and whether he offered Hausa Language as a subject or not. We are counting the number of Muslims in a government not how many Muslims are daily losing their lives due to inefficient handling of security and Christians are also prioritising a man’s cap to how safe our churches should be. The way things are going, it will not be surprising if someone opines that a candidate is too tall to be Nigerian President or if he is asked to present his primary school uniform.
And the consistently clueless rants remain relentless and range from funny to foolish, disturbing to abusive and childish to annoying! While a Presidential aide was preferring handing over to military than a democratically elected Buhari, an executive governor was wishing same man dead and while the man was all this while being portrayed as a Muslim fundamentalist and his party tagged as a Muslim party, the Vice President is now telling people Buhari is a bad Muslim because he has chosen a pastor as his running mate and the ruling party is more Islamic. The ultimate questions now should be; who is a better Muslim bigot and which party should Christians call their own or vote?
In the midst of all these, it is comforting that the victim is undeterred and is reminding everybody where the goalposts should be placed. He said “And although the ruling party may want to wish this away, the issue in this campaign cannot be my certificate which I obtained 53 years ago. The issues are the scandalous level of unemployment of millions of our young people, the state of insecurity, the pervasive official corruption which has impoverished our people and the lack of concern of the government for anything other than the retention of power at all costs.”
Dr. Marzuq Abubakar Ungogo firstname.lastname@example.org Twitters @Marzuq_Ungogo