Vice-President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Issa Aremu, has faulted a former Head of State and presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for saying that he would not mind a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket.
The NLC chief also berated a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, for warning against a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket.
Aremu spoke in an interview with journalists during the 26th Annual National Education Conference of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria and the Nigeria Textile, Garment and Tailoring Employers’ Association in Ilorin, Kwara State, on Tuesday.
He said that religion should not be a yardstick or a factor in choosing candidates in the 2015 elections.
According to him, using religion as a basis for choosing candidates could lead to further problem as there are different groups or sects in Islam and Christianity.
Aremu said in choosing candidates for elective positions, only the provisions of the constitution should matter and be strictly adhered to.
He said, “It is wrong for both former President Olusegun Obasanjo and General Muhammadu Buhari to have mentioned Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket for the 2015 presidential elections. It is a wrong mindset, just like Obasanjo was wrong to say we need Muslim-Christian balance. The balance Nigeria is looking for is good governance balance. We are looking for a president as defined in Nigeria’s Constitution regardless of religious background, who is willing to guarantee the welfare and security of Nigerians.
“The problem of their age as well as the bankruptcy of the age of their ideas; modern Nigerians are ordinary people who settle everywhere to work anywhere. For example the way Obasanjo became head of state in the unfortunate coup of 1976 nobody looked at religious issue, we just moved on as he was the next in command to the late General Murtala Mohammed.
“If it were today’s Nigeria people would be reading double meaning into it and they would put the country in jeopardy. In this country, the late Moshood Abiola never saw his presidential ticket with that of Baba Gana Kingibe as Muslim-Muslim stuff and the whole country voted for them. In fact, Abiola had votes almost 90 percent in largely Christian dominated area of Akwa Ibom State. People followed Abiola because of his avid commitment to good governance and ability to say farewell to poverty. For me that is the issue and I want to say let’s change the debate from that unhelpful narrow religious divide to serious issue of constitution.
“The two Generals’ comments clearly show lack of civility. Whoever will drive our democracy must be strong civilians who have civil outlook. We are tired of these Generals who will heat up the polity. Their language is not civil. No serious civilian will be talking of North-South candidates or Muslim-Christian candidates. Civilians fought for our independence for us, not soldiers. So if civilians fought for independence for us they should run it for us”.