Catholics press for the top two posts in Africa’s most-populous country to be shared among Muslims and Christians, not both from the same religious communityCatholics in Nigeria are objecting to political parties fielding Muslim candidates for both the top posts of president and vice president in the upcoming 2023 general elections.Power is normally shared between the north and the south, which are respectively dominated by Muslims and Christians.In the forefront is Bola Ahmed Tinubu from the ruling All Progressives Congress, aspiring for the top post. Others include Atiku Abubakar, the Muslim presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)Tinubu is a Muslim from the South, whose wife is a pastor of Redeemed Christian Church.Muslims are pressing that the vice president to run with him must be a Muslim, in other words a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Christians on the other hand say the vice president candidate must be a Christian.”While all this is going on, we must not lose sight of the fact that the unity of this country has, over the years, been maintained by a delicate balancing of the religious and the regional” read the June 14 statement signed by the secretary general of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria Father Zachariah Sanjumi, and Director of Social Communications Father Michael Nsikak Umoh.”Even in the despotic military era, most juntas ensured a balance of the religious architecture in their regimes,” they said, adding that this also applied to the heads of the various military formations and the different government departments like the Customs, Immigrations, Finance.Threat to the nation’s unity and peaceful coexistenceOnly once did Nigeria have a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 1993 democratic elections, which featured Moshood Abiola with Baba Gana Kingibe vice-presidential running mate, but “that government never took off”, being annulled and later culminated in military rule via a bloodless coup.”Ordinarily, there would have been nothing wrong with a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket in a democratic dispensation if there is mutual trust and respect for the human person and where the overriding desire for seeking political office is the fostering of the common good. But one cannot really say so of our country at the moment,” the Catholic Church officials said.”With the present glaring crisis and division in the nation, a Muslim-Muslim ticket would be most insensitive and a tacit endorsement of the negative voices of many non-state actors who have been threatening this nation’s unity and peaceful coexistence without an arrest.”As a way forward, they called on “Nigerians, individually and collectively, to do everything in their power to seek and work for unity and justice, so that we may attain that peace we all desire.”The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) too is against a Muslim-Muslim ticket, saying it would be a was a recipe for crisis. CAN, in an open l to all political parties said it would mobilise against political parties that adopted a Muslim-Muslim ticket.”As the umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, we call on all the presidential candidates to choose men or women of alternative religion as their running mates. For avoidance of doubt, the CAN will not accept any presidential ticket that is Christian-Christian or Muslim- Muslim.”This simply means that where the presidential candidate of the party is a Christian, the deputy should be a Muslim; and where the presidential candidate is a Muslim, the deputy should be a Christian”.

Source : By Justine John

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