Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), has stated that “ordinary” Nigerians no longer care about the religious background of their political leaders.
Baba-Ahmed spoke on Tuesday during an interview on Channels Television.
Over the past few days, there have been concerns and arguments over the religious background of the presidential candidates and their intended running mates.
Since the two major political parties — All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — have Muslim presidential candidates, many people, including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), have asked that their running mates should be Christians.
Asked to react to the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket debate, the NEF spokesperson said religion is a tool deployed by politicians to get power in 2023, adding that the religious beliefs of elected leaders have not benefited Nigerians.
“I think there is a lot of deception here which has gathered momentum as politicians began to learn more and more about the weaknesses of ordinary Nigerians. 90 percent of us as ordinary Nigerians are devout Christians and Muslims. We care very deeply about personal faith. We care about the fortunes of our faith. We don’t like to be attacked or affected because we are Christians or Muslims,” he said.
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“By and large, in most instances, our faith is faith. Politicians use faith and other forms of identity politics to wrestle for power. This is basically what is it and it is becoming clearer that every time politics come, religion surfaces as a factor and what it does is that it created this idea that Nigerians would fight because the vice-president is not a Christian or a Muslim.
We won’t. We will not fight because if you go down in history, there is not a single thing a Christian had benefited from during the times when Christians were presidents or vice-presidents. There is nothing a Muslim had benefitted from the president or vice-president being a Muslim.
“When you hear them talk now, it is as if it is central to being a Muslim or a Christian. if your so-called man is not in the presidency. It is nonsense. It is the most deceptive thing politicians do. What is even more damaging is that they are making it worse now precisely the time when we need to have quality leadership, good people irrespective of their faith, who will govern this country and pull it out of this quagmire that we are in.
Politicians are bringing in all these factors that specifically targeted at giving a few of them certain advantages. Now, you hear these people are saying it has to be a Muslim-Muslim ticket, ordinary Nigerians don’t care. Politicians are playing a game with the faith, intelligence and future of our people.
“I’m telling you ordinary Nigerians do not consider the faith of leaders now as central to the way they exist. We have been taught some terrible lessons from recent leaders who may have benefitted from religious politics but have abandoned the people who they share the same faith with. I think people are wiser now.”