Osun politics and the case of religious jingoism

“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
― Napoleon


I have been thinking lately about Nigerians obsessions with religion, well, not just lately, but sometimes it is certain event that triggers the thought. Usually one just have to move along and leave people to their own ways of thinking. What beggars belief in Nigeria though was the fact that when we talk about issues in general we can all easily agree we desperately need better leadership in all levels of government. However, when it comes to debating on who the right person could be to lead us, somehow religious affiliations would slip in and before you know it people would be completely blinded by religion and will then refuse to engage in real debate about qualities that we should be looking for in our leaders.

In a country like Nigeria where government officials come from different religions mostly Christian/Muslim, I would think by now we should have learnt that it is in the best interest of everyone to separate religion from the state. Most of our leaders have ‘K legs’ regardless of their religious affiliations. Not to say that some are not diligent and humane in their offices, but these are very few indeed.

Sometimes I wonder how long would it take for average Nigerians to realise that using religious affiliations as a yardstick to vote for a public officials is just not the best idea? We have done this in the past and it has never yielded great results, our sitting president, is a Christian for example. Now since national issues eat deeply into every Nigerians, sometimes local politics get a little bit personal as the effect of choosing a wrong candidate to represent us would have profound negative effects on well-being of the people.

In about five weeks from now, Osun State would have to vote for a new governor to lead us for another four years. Our future in terms of education, health, infrastructures etc largely depend on the chosen leader.

I still remember when the state was created in 1991 and how much everyone was jubilating as we dreamt of better future. Now, a lot has happened since then, however, I have never seen so much improvement compounded in one term as the one we currently have which is led by Ogbeni Aregbesola. Am I absolutely over the moon with all his decisions? The answer is no, however, he has made a lot of improvement than any administration in the history of the state and all I could hope for is that this trend continues as we all benefit from it.

Now, there is a good reason for election, it allows people to chose who they think will represent their best interest. Sometimes, we have people with track records, in this case it is easier as we can go back in history to see what they have done in order to give us clear picture of what future holds. Sometimes not so much of track records but we vote based on manifestos presented and hope for the best.

Should religious bigotry be used in any way to determine who we vote for or should we keep our opinion to ourselves about religion and vote any of the aspirants based on the quality of their work and the way they relate to people?

I have read quite a handful of online articles that were just too daft to take seriously. How could you ever take anyone discrediting an aspirant simply because of his religion seriously? I find it really hard to follow given that in Osun, although the major religions were Christian and Muslim, however, we have loads of Animists and Atheists too. We have always lived and socialise together so why do we have to play religious card now that is crucial for all to unite so we can choose the best leader for us. Must we play religious card when there are no other valid reasons to discredit the opponent?

I was recently chatting with a friend who lamented how surprised he was when he first visited Dubai, he loved the sky scrappers, the big malls, the orderliness of the people, and all those nice infrastructures that were complete contrast to what you see in Nigeria, and he said to me ‘I could not belief it’s a Muslim country.’ The guy is a pastor at a well known RCCG church. It was not a surprise to me he said that because many people had been blinded by the issue of Boko Haram that we instinctively thought everyone who is not Christian must be devil.

Osun State is a multi faith state and we must keep it that way and in order for peace to reign we need to tolerate one another and be fair in our judgement with no reference to religious affiliations especially when choosing a public officials.

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