By Okoi Obono-Obla
The brouhaha or controversies being generated in certain quarters by some vested interest over the statement made by General Muhammadu Buhari on an interview with The Cable Online Newspaper that he has not made up his mind on whether or not he would choose a Christian or Muslim as his running mate, is needless, a distraction, and indeed a red herring.
General Buhari said that in 2003, 2007 and 2011 when he contested Presidential Elections, he chose Christians as his running mate to drive home his point that the allegation that he is a religious bigot is a figment of the imagination of some misguided people who are obsessed with running him down for narrow political interest.
It beats me that some people would want to twist the innocuous statement made by General Buhari out of context to make an issue out nothing and use it as premise to overheat the polity.
This recent controversy is not surprising. There is always a conspiracy weave by propagandists of the Peoples Democratic Party to misconstrue whatever General Buhari says.
In 2003 when General Buhari said that the people of Sokoto should vote for those who share the values of integrity, honesty and hard work, it was misinterpreted that the General advocated Muslims should vote only Muslims. The pertinent question is: Don’t Christians share these same virtues of honesty, integrity and hard work?
When General Buhari said that voters should protect their votes in 2011 his detractors in the PDP slanted it to mean that voters should use violence.
Also when there was an internal conflict in PDP over the zoning of the Presidential candidate of the Party in 2011 and some PDP chieftains threatened fire and brimstone; it was alleged thereafter that General Buhari had threatened to make the country ungovernable.
In 2012 General Buhari used Hausa metaphor of a fight between the dog and the baboon to drive home his point that PDP would have a run for its money in the 2015 General Election, PDP mischievously interpreted it to mean that he was advocating violence.
Don’t the detractors of General Buhari want him to exercise his inalienable right to freedom of speech and expression? Why is it that the General is always taken out context whenever he speaks?
This is not fair. Politics should not be played in such a nefarious manner. Politics should be issue-based not on emotive manipulation of a pluralist society such as our country.
The descent to the arena by General Olusegun Obasanjo on this issue has not helped matters. For goodness sake religion should not be used as a political tool or as a weapon to continue to divide Nigerians.
All what Nigerians are yearning for is a practical solution to the multifaceted developmental problems grappling and confronting the country. Nigerians want a President who would address the problematic Electricity Sector; Security of the Country; solve infrastructural decay; create employment opportunities for our teaming youth population; and up the standard of living of Nigerians.
Nigerians want a President that would bring prosperity to the country, fight crime and corruption and restore the virtues, honour, and integrity of Nigerians among the comity of Nations.
There was a time in this country (during the regime of General Yakubu Gowon) the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters (the equivalent of a Vice President in a democratic setting) and most of the Service Chiefs (Navy, Army and Air force) were all Christians and Nigeria remained united.
Conversely, in the military regime of General Buhari as the Head of State the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, and most Service Chiefs were Muslims and Nigeria still remained united.
In 1993, Nigerians elected Chief Moshood Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe both Muslims and Nigerians voted massively for the Abiola Ticket.
The elites should stop using religion to divide Nigerians. Religious conflict is a horrible ill wind that will not do anybody any good. The example are just too numerous. The latest is the internecine conflict in Central African Republic (CAR).
Be that as it may, General Buhari is very much aware of the prevalent disposition and mindset of Nigerians. If not, he would not have chosen as running mates in the last three attempts at running for the presidency, Christians.
It is an immutable fact that the statement by General Buhari about not making up his mind on who to choose as running mate does not deserve the needless and unwarranted attention it has generated. It is tantamount to making a mountain out of a mole.
Can Nigerians move unto something else? Something more productive?
*sent via email@example.com