(149): Religion and the 2023 presidential election: A quick take
By Muhsin Ibrahim
Religion was central to Bola Tinubu's emergence as
the APC's candidate for the 2023 presidential election. We discussed the issue
as if it would not end. Since the 1993 annulled election of Abiola/Kingibe
(both Muslims), no major candidate and his running mate have ever come from the same
religion until now: Tinubu/Shettima (both Muslims). But, as the election
approaches (we are, in fact, counting hours), only a few people talk about
that. However, religion will play a significant role in the voting pattern.
The wild popularity of Labour Party’s Peter Obi on social media and his appeal to foreign media has something to do with his religion. I know this may sound controversial, but it is so. The three other front candidates are Muslims, while Obi is Christian. Besides this, I can't see a glaring difference between him and NNPP’s Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso per se.
Tinubu and PDP’s Atiku Abubakar are in their 70s, while Kwankwaso and Obi are in their 60s. The four leading candidates are stinking rich and belong to 1% of the Nigerian elite. Interestingly, the candidates represent Nigeria’s so-called major ethnolinguistic groups of Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo, alias WAZOBIA.
Though, there is a parallel between Obi and Tinubu. Many people will vote for them because of their religious identities. I learned that many churches, especially in the North, had ordered their members to vote for Obi. Likewise, the faith-based civil liberties organisation Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) recently "reminded Northern Muslims of their promise to support a Southern Muslim [i.e. Tinubu] in the 2023 presidential election".
Given the above, I agree with some observers and analysts that Obi may surprise his critics, such as myself, in the upcoming election. The votes from his Christian brethren and others supporting him for other reasons will make a difference. However, Tinubu has many more advantages – being APC the ruling party and his decades-old political footprints, among others.
Anyway, we hope for the best and pray for peaceful elections. But, please, stay away from violence. Your safety should be your most treasured possession. No politician or political party is worth dying for.
With love from a disenfranchised Nigerian citizen.
Muhsin works and lives in Cologne, Germany and can be reached via email@example.com.