Ask any Nigerian over the age of 10 what they want most for Nigeria and you would be most surprised by the answers you get. The old, young, infirm and strong, the wealthy, impoverished, illiterate and those who went through school without letting school go through them, the nouveau riche, and haughty danshiki-wearing intellectuals are not too concerned with the devaluation of our naira, epileptic electricity, or even insecurity. No. The majority of Nigerians are most concerned with ensuring that they have stellar representation in government by people who worship the way they do.
After all it is only someone who performs the same prayer rituals with you that you can expect to implicitly understand fiscal responsibility. Those who do not fast when you do or who do not trek the same pilgrim routes as you do can never be expected to deal with national issues or even address foreign policy adequately. What could they possibly know? Besides, God forbid that there isn’t someone to take the Muslim or Christian prayer at the beginning or end of a government meeting – that would be a disaster.
This is why the world celebrates Your Religion Day several time s a year – with different days for all the most respected religions, to ensure religion gets its fair and due recognition. Religious representation is the driver behind sustainable development and the only panacea to youth unemployment and jobless economic growth – this is why the United Nations post 2015 MDG development plans will have an entire goal dedicated to religion. This is in recognition of the decades of lobbying by Nigerians who understand what is important and who want to help countries like Australia where religion is considered a private matter, to understand the role of religion in government.
It is in this vein that the most respected elder statesman Nigeria has produced, former president Obasanjo has counselled the All Progressive Congress to think carefully about presenting anything as asinine as a Muslim-Muslim ticket or Christian- Christian ticket (though with Buhari winning the APC presidential primaries, this latter scenario is not likely). This is because, as someone who has fought all his life to preserve the unity of Nigeria, an all knowing sage who speaks the truth and nothing but the truth, Obasanjo knows what really lies deep in the hearts of most Nigerians.
For instance, for the few Nigerians who answer ‘better roads, portable water, and jobs’ when asked what they would rank as the 3 most urgent things they want government to address, they sometimes even blaspheme by admitting that if any one could provide these things, they would not care what that person’s religion is. They usually make this admission only to very close friends and members of their family, in a hushed voice or even only written on a piece of paper which is hastily thrown into someone’s mouth, chewed vigorously and swallowed.
This is because any pastor, imam or major government influencer worth anything would soon set such a loser straight and get him/her to renounce their misguided logic. Of course religion matters. It is the only thing that matters. In fact – it explains all Nigeria’s successes. After all, when a person worships by Option A, all the people who worship by Option B, gang up against this person to ensure the person fails and vice versa. And no matter what fellow worshippers do to protect their own, complete with halting-government-business prayer sessions, fasts, praise worship in the office, feverishly televised state sponsored trips to holy lands, some how, God does not answer their prayers for their man on the hot seat to provide Nigerians with their secondary needs. But that is the secret – everything else is secondary and as long as Christians have their man and Muslims have their man – either in the number 1 or the number 2 position, then all is right with the world.
This is why, we would rather die, we would rather have shrapnel tear through our bodies over and over again rather than consider that instead of religion as a measure of worth we should consider experience, track record and integrity for those who want to hold the reins of government. The only mystery left unanswered is why we do not have imams and pastors as our presidents and vice presidents. Oh wait…we just might have that soon.
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