Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Niger State chapter, and a Christian group, the Niger State Christian Forum, have decried the alleged marginalisation of other faith-based organisations, particularly Christians, in the state over the fielding of governorship candidates and their running mates by political parties.
The groups alleged that major political parties in the state had been fielding only Muslims as their candidates to the detriment of the Christian community in the state.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has elected Abubakar Bello, a Muslim, as the state’s governorship candidate while Alhaji Mohammed Ketso, also a Muslim, has emerged as his running mate, while the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) has chosen Umar Nasko, a Muslim, as governorship candidate with Mohammed Kudu Ndayako, another Muslim, as deputy governorship candidate.
In a press release by Publicity Secretary of the Christian Forum, J.A Gusadi, which was made available to Daily Sun newspaper, on Wednesday, the group said: “We wish to call the attention of the whole world to the worrisome political trend in Niger state where same faith Gubernatorial candidature in favour of Muslims at the detriment of other religions by dominant parties has become the order of the day.
“In recent times, the composition of gubernatorial candidates and their running mates has relegated adherents of the Christian religion to the background even when they constitute quite a formidable number in the state.
“Also, in advanced democracies as practiced by civilised nations the world over, especially corporate entities, the diversity of such nations in terms of all forms of differences including ethnic and religious constitutes the rallying point.
“If democracy is about representation of the people no matter their affiliations then let all players in Niger state be engaged in an all inclusive approach since the system is of the people, by the people and for the people.
“Recall that Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Niger State chapter had, on the 11th of October, through a press statement, requested for a reflection of fairness and justice in the pairing of governorship candidates by ensuring that all parties field either a Christian/Muslim ticket or a Muslim/Christian ticket,” it said.
Warning that such trend does not augur well the Christians in the state, the Forum continued, ” The outright disregard to the request by CAN is not acceptable by us, as it does not portray the state in its right composition and the decision is viewed as a total disregard on the collective intelligence of hard working thousands of Christians in Nigeria state”
It, therefore, prayed that “We wish to call the attention of the political players in the state and the elder statesmen to review the decisions by the major political parties to reflect a fair outlook of inclusiveness, this is to bring to an end this worrisome trend of marginalization and inhuman treatment by our Muslim brothers to forestall any resentments that may lead to chaos in future.
“We have capable hands in various fields of endeavour who are willing to contribute immensely to the development of our dear state, hence we are requesting that both APC and PDP reconsider their decision of featuring same faith tickets and tap on the willingness and commitment of the Christian community to partner with every well meaning indigene of the state to build the Niger state of our dream.
“Muslim-Muslim candidature does not truly reflect the composition of Niger state, which by our own estimation is about 50/50% for the two major faiths.
“All manner of people in the state must be given a sense of belonging in the interest of justice and fair play.
“We are committed to teaming up with our Muslim brothers to work assiduously to deliver dividends of democracy to the good people of Niger state.
“We, by this statement call on the major actors to demonstrate their independence and executive powers to make immediate changes to reflect our request and grant us all the opportunity to build the state together,” they said.