We are a few weeks away from the 2023 General Elections. If the elections are held, it is feared due to general insecurity, it could end in jihad. Some partisan Muslim clerics see the election as a call for jihad and want all Muslims to see it as such. But in a jihad, there must be at least two battalions on two opposing sides. Given that these Muslim clerics are about to go on a jihad as APC foot soldiers, which party does their Christian equivalency support? We must not forget that there are Christian clergymen who have also made it mandatory for their church members to vote only for Christian contestants. Such for which? In fact, in some churches, you must present your Permanent Voter Card (PVC) before being admitted to the House of the Lord!

So how many Muslims are ready for this jihad? Or to ask a more appropriate question: when did the All Progressive Congress (APC) become a religion that compels its adherents to wage jihad in its name? Could it be because of his Muslim-Muslim presidential bid? This reason will be too simplistic. Because, as far as I know, APC has not made the Muslim-Muslim ticket its article of faith. It could be Christian-Christian or idolatrous-idolater ticket in the year 2027 if the party still exists. It could also be an amalgamation of two different religions to achieve a religious balance. So why the rhetoric of jihad? What do these clerics want to achieve? Although ‘jihad’ is a polysemous word, it only means one thing to non-Muslims and Muslims outside of academia.

Well! As stated above, politics in Nigeria adapts and polarizes along the religious line. It is hypocritical to isolate, in order to accuse, the adherents of only one of the two most populous religions (Islam or Christianity) for childish, destructive and irrational religious policies. We can debate who started it and point fingers at who is more interested; but no one is free from it.

Last week in Kano, a cleric claimed that voting the Muslim-Muslim ticket is jihad. Does it mean that to vote for any other party with a Muslim-Christian ticket, or any other combination, is to antagonize Islam? It is argued that voting for a Muslim president with a Christian vice president is the same as voting for a Christian. Those clerics who argue along these lines must have momentarily suffered from memory loss. If not, they should remember that they vigorously campaigned for President Buhari with his Christian running mate in 2015 and 2019. So, voting for a Muslim president with a Christian running mate is not voting for a Christian. But now it is!

Although I have heard some unconvincing arguments put forward by some Yoruba Muslim clerics in the Southwest that it would be a shame for Islam if Tinubu loses in 2023, this is the first time I have heard such a superficial argument in the Muslim North. It lacks logic. It is unacademic, arbitrary, and too pedestrian. Therefore, the arguments are too ridiculous to ignore.

This is not about APC or Tinubu, after all, all Nigerians have the right to support any party of their choice. It is about warning clerics not to mislead and mislead people into voting for a candidate or party in the name of religion. Six months ago, in my article titled “Tinubu’s Sins and the Curse of a Muslim Cleric,” I took a swipe at a cleric who cursed anyone who voted for Tinubu (although I’m not a fan of Tinubu). I wrote: “When a clergyman bows to his political instincts, he must play his politics with some decorum. That distinguishes him from bullies. Cursing whoever votes for Tinubu is thug, not clerical. Similarly, using religious rhetoric to rationalize the Muslim-Muslim candidacy and declaring that voting for APC is a call to jihad is anti-clerical and non-malamic. This is playing a trick, in the name of religion, on the unsuspecting masses.

Yes, I am a strong advocate of clerics (ulema) involvement in politics, especially Nigerian politics; and it will be an arduous task for anyone to convince me to change my position. But then, they should be honest and reasonable in their policy. The point is: politics, after religion, is the most important thing in human life. Therefore, it should absolutely not be left in the hands of thieving and dishonest elements, more defined by criminality and theft. The righteous from among the clergy and the laity must also participate. They will constitute checks and balances to the excesses of those who see politics as an end in itself. The current merger, or near merger, of the three arms of government in Nigeria says a lot about the character of those in government. Hopefully, the presence of groups of God-conscious clerics will restore some sanity and responsibility.

Now that voting for Tinubu has become a jihad, is Tinubu ready for jihad? To be fair to Tinubu, he’s not a jihadist. And there is not a shred of evidence to support such an accusation against him. He was said to have been a fan of the Muslim-Muslim ticket since the early 1990s. A cleric at the Kano rally claims that Tinubu was instrumental in the rise of the Abiola/Kingibe candidacy in 1993. He (Tinubu) also paired up Nuhu Ribadu with a Yoruba Muslim running mate in 2011. This only amounts to claiming for Tinubu what he does not claim. for the same. He is not passionate about the Muslim-Muslim ticket as alleged. He is more of a political strategist who sees religion as a minor issue in politics. I’m not defending his choice; I’m just saying the noise about the muslim-muslim ticket is misplaced.

But now that some Muslim clerics are calling for jihad between Muslims and Muslims, would Christians who howl wolf be vindicated for howling wolf? That is if the call for jihad represents the position of the Nigerian clerics and that of the APC. Obviously, the clerics spoke for themselves. Nobody sent them. For the record, the same faith ticket has never been a success in the history of Nigerian democracy. The late Awolowo tried, failed. The last MKO Abiola tried it, seemed to be successful, but was rejected. Are we about to reread the same faith ticket story from the old pages of Nigeria’s democratic history or are we about to read from a new page? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, Muslim clerics in the APC should help advise Tinubu to stop reciting the Quran at his campaign rallies, which sends chills down the spine. I believe that reciting the Qur’an is not the party’s article of faith. Being the first Muslim on the Muslim-Muslim ticket is evidence enough that he is a Muslim. He does not need to fight to prove his Muslim status. Should he be ready for jihad, APC clerics should help him teach him how to recite the Qur’an, at least with some semblance of perfection.

All said, may Allah choose the best for us.

Abdulkadir Salaudeen


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