Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has warned the country’s main political parties not to field a presidential ticket with two people of the same religion.
In a statement on Sunday in Abeokuta, the former president said, “It will be insensitive to the point of absurdity for any leader or any political party to be toying with Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket at this juncture.”
Although Mr. Obasanjo did not mention any political party in his warnings, observers of the 2015 political intrigues could term it as being targeted at the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC.
Although the APC has in the past said it was not planning to field such a ticket as warned by Mr. Obasanjo, the party has been accused of toying with a Muslim-Muslim ticket. A former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, who left the party for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, listed such plans as one of his reasons for leaving.
The main presidential hopefuls of the APC- Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar and Rabiu Kwakwanso – are Muslims, while the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, also a Muslim, has been touted as a possible running mate. The party is, however, yet to hold is presidential primaries.
On its part, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has virtually adopted President Goodluck Jonathan as its candidate; with the president expected to retain Vice President Namadi Sambo as his running mate. Mr. Jonathan is a Christian while Mr. Sambo is a Muslim.
In his warning, Mr. Obasanjo, whose support is being sought for the February 14, 2015 presidential elections by both parties, advised them to be sensitive to Nigeria’s religious diversity. Over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s 150 million population are belived to be either Christians or Muslims.
“Sensitivity is a necessary ingredient for enhancement of peace, security and stability at this point in the political discourse and arrangement for Nigeria and for encouraging confidence and trust,” he said.
Mr. Obasanjo added that “Nigeria cannot at this stage raise the spectre and fear of Islamization or Christianization. The idea of proselytization in any form is a grave danger that must not be contemplated by any serious-minded politician at this delicate situation in Nigeria; as this time is different from any other time.
“Therefore, disregarding the fact that there are fears that need to be allayed at this point will amount not only to insensitivity of the highest order but will also amount to very bad politics indeed.”