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Tinubu, Dogara – the Prison and Poison of Religious Politics

  1. Tinubu, Dogara and the Prison and Poison of Religious Politics

By Farooq A. Kperogi Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The two most deprived teams in Nigeria’s representational politics are northern Christians and Southern Muslims. In Nigeria’s inner geopolitics, these two teams are structurally invisible, politically subjugated, and informed to be content material with their political and symbolic marginality.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Muslim from Osun/Lagos states, and Yakubu Dogara, a northern Christian from Bauchi State, embody this phenomenon eloquently. When Tinubu kick-began his run for the presidency in 2020, he settled on Yakubu Dogara to be his operating mate to steadiness his ticket. It was one of the causes Dogara defected from PDP to APC in July 2020.

But Tinubu’s northern Muslim supporters informed him—with out subtlety, tact, and even pretense to evasion—{that a} northern Christian operating mate to a southern Muslim candidate was unacceptable and was a surefire approach to a powerful electoral defeat. Tinubu’s personal inner polling later confirmed he’d get considerably extra votes with a northern Muslim operating mate than he would with a northern Christian operating mate.

Now, Dogara has been left in the lurch. It’s now sure that ought to Tinubu get the ticket to run for president (both in APC or one other occasion), his operating mate can be a northern Muslim.

This re-echoes the late MKO Abiola’s dilemma in the early Nineteen Nineties. Being Muslim, Abiola thought it might make political and representational sense to select a northern Christian as his operating mate, so he thought-about the late Pascal Bafyau, a northern Christian from Adamawa Sate. His northern Muslim backers, nonetheless, kicked towards it, which compelled him to decide on Babagana Kingibe.

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On the different hand, an rising tenor in the opposition to Tinubu’s presidential aspiration in Yoruba land is that, as a Muslim, he can’t succeed Buhari, one other Muslim.  For instance, the National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, mentioned, “We do not want another Muslim president come 2023. We don’t want it. It is not right. A Muslim president has governed for 8 years.”

The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, additionally mentioned on February 27, throughout a sermon indicatively titled “Defeating Your Enemies Through the Power of Unity,” that Christians would band collectively to make sure that the subsequent Nigerian president isn’t one other Muslim however a Christian.

The stream of unrelenting, politically motivated, anti-southern Muslim prejudice flowing luxuriantly in the South, notably amongst Yoruba Christians, has compelled the characteristically subdued Yoruba Muslim group to react.

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For occasion, in a information launch signed by Alhaji Ishaq Kunle Sanni and Alhaji Murisiku Abidemi Siyanbade on behalf of the Muslim Community of Oyo State, Yoruba Muslims identified that “Since Nigeria got independence in 1960, no Southern Muslim has ever occupied the number one position in Nigeria, not even number two.”

So, in spite of evidently false, self-serving claims that faith is immaterial in Yoruba land, which I’ve exploded in earlier columns to the irritation of escapists who’re invested in the narrative, Yoruba Muslims are being informed, identical to Christians in the North, that they can’t symbolize their area as a result of of their faith.

If faith doesn’t matter in Yoruba land, why is there such an overwhelming groundswell of opposition from Yoruba Christian leaders to the prospect of a Yoruba Muslim president?


A Facebook buddy by the title of Foluke “Kested” Martins, who is outwardly a Yoruba Christian, mentioned the quiet half out loud on Facebook on March 3 when she wrote: “An average Yoruba Muslim is Tinubu’s supporter. Are you still wondering why they dislike [Osinbajo]?”

Her remark generated greater than 200 frenzied reactions from each Yoruba Muslims and Yoruba Christians and triggered me to reassess many of my assumptions. Although I’m a Muslim with shut associations with Yoruba Muslims by my late spouse and by my natal geographic location, I oppose Tinubu’s presidential aspiration. I feel he’s too crooked, too sick, an excessive amount of like Buhari, and too immersed in the sort of politics that ensures that Nigeria is perpetually damaged to be president.

But I additionally oppose Yemi Osinbajo not as a result of he isn’t a Muslim however as a result of he’s a naïve, narrowminded, culturally incompetent Pentecostal theocratic bigot who would, as a senior Christian Yoruba professor informed me not too long ago, “create greater instability as president” than Buhari has. He added that “The Sharia folks will confront [Osinbajo’s] Christian fundamentalism with more violence,” which might precipitate disabling communal upheavals.

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I hadn’t thought of the help for or opposition to Tinubu and Osinbajo in Yoruba land as impressed by non secular solidarity as a result of I couldn’t set up that sample from my very own observations. I’ve seen zealous Tinubu supporters who’re Christians and passionate advocates for Osinbajo who’re Muslims. But the Facebook publish talked solely about “an average,” not absolute numbers.

If that is true, why shouldn’t they? And why shouldn’t Northern Christians desire a northern Christian president or vice chairman to be assured that in addition they matter in the nation?

In the North, faith has been regionized, and in the South, area has been religionized. To be accepted as a Muslim in the North, you should be a northerner. That was why though Abiola had carried out extra for Islam than most northern Muslims of his technology, northern Muslims didn’t belief him sufficient to symbolize the faith; he wanted to pair with a northern Muslim to make certain that the curiosity of Islam can be protected.


Northern Muslims see southern Muslims as extra wedded to their ethnic identities than they’re to their non secular identification, but their Christian kinsfolk query their dedication to their ethnic group as a result of of their non secular identification.

Similarly, in the South, notably in the Southwest the place Muslims have traditionally enjoined numerical dominion however symbolic marginality from colonial instances to now, being Muslim is a disqualifying attribute to symbolize the area. Pastors can rise to any political positions, however visibly observant Muslims, nonetheless average they is likely to be, are invariably defamed as “fundamentalists” and consigned to the fringes.

The relegation of Yoruba Muslims to the backburner with out loud complaints from them or political penalties for his or her subordination is routinely invoked in Yoruba land as proof of the “religious harmony” in the area.

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A Yoruba Christian who angrily reacted to my earlier columns on the bigotry towards Yoruba Muslims and who accused me of “inciting” Yoruba Muslims (as if they’re automatons with no company!) boasted that in the Second Republic Muslims had just one governor (i.e., Alhaji Lateef Jakande of Lagos) in the complete of Yoruba land and that “they didn’t complain”!

The lack of self-consciousness this betrays is staggering. First, it isn’t true that Yoruba Muslims didn’t complain. They did. A December 24, 1980, Nigerian Herald cowl story, as an illustration, captures one strand of Yoruba Muslim complaints. “Discrimination, favouritism, cheating: OYO MUSLIM YOUTHS CRIES OUT,” it screamed. Second, why was the reverse not true to show the immateriality of faith in the area?

Of course, that is true of the North, too. A northern Christian pastor can’t even dream of aspiring to nationwide political workplace not solely as a result of the area’s identification has been religionized by the symbolic majority there, but additionally as a result of pastors in politics can be seen as disruptors of the boundaries set for them.

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“Good” northern Christians are those that subordinate their non secular identification, and “good” southern, particularly Yoruba, Muslims are those that conceal or de-emphasize their Islamic identification. Even at that, they’ll’t symbolize their areas as a result of they’re seen as anomalies which might be solely being tolerated.

Part of this stems from the politics of entry, not simply of identification. A authorities made up of a southern Muslim president and a northern Christian vice chairman will doubtlessly shut out most northern Muslim politicians from quick access to the public until. Same is, to a lesser extent, true of Southern Christian politicians in a authorities headed by a northern Christian and a southern Muslim.

So, now we have unconsciously internalized the indisputable fact that if energy goes down South, it should be to a Christian, and when it strikes up North, it should be to a Muslim. In different phrases, a Muslim can’t symbolize the South and a Christian can’t symbolize the North.

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That’s a needlessly self-created political jail that we should break. Symbolic illustration of teams in positions of energy is emotionally liberating for a number of folks. A Yohanna Audu or an Esther Ladi Jatau as president or vice chairman would do monumental good for the self-esteem and sense of belonging of tens of millions of northern Christians who could not share the similar ethnic identification as her or him.

A Lamidi Adeboye or a Kudirat Otunla as president or vice chairman would guarantee southern Muslims that in addition they matter. This isn’t a method to an finish; it’s an finish in itself. Emotions are simply legitimate as materials wellbeing.

There isn’t any justification for any demographic group in the nation to be condemned to marginality in perpetuity, to be completely locked out of the highest workplace in the land as a result of of the accidents of the faiths they’re born into or that they select to observe.

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