Back in 2015, just about two days after a group of persons, dressed in clerical garments, were paraded in Abuja as leaders of Christians in the north of the country, to endorse the candidacy of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, I got a telephone call while working on stories for the next edition of The Union. It came from a number that I did not know. And, I did not have the truecaller app at the time. The voice on the other end quickly greeted me and without wasting time asked: “Did you see that thing they did for Buhari in Abuja, can you help us arrange some people who will dress like them and also do the same thing”. I saw in the call an opportunity to cash out and asked “what’s your budget?’. The caller promised to get back to me. He never did. I guess he realized that he was talking to the wrong person.
So, when APC manufactured some creatures to impersonate bishops, knowing very well that they are neither ordained as claimed nor are they clerics, it created a problem that summarizes the party’s disdain for Christianity, a religion it further scorned by the manufacture of impostors who Kashim Shettima, its vice presidential candidate, openly described as “30 bishops representing the Christians”. The master of ceremony also described them as representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria. However, with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) immediately repudiating the action and disowning the impostors, it became obvious that the APC, and its campaign leaders, were trading on familiar turf. It was a road they had traveled before –the Fakery Boulevard. Obviously, APC presents itself as a den of the masters of fakery which has created a narrative of fakery around its image bearer.
In voting for the same faith ticket, Bola Ahmed Tinubu said that religion was of no importance in the leadership of Nigeria. His running mate also echoed the same. Many of their acolytes have in a similar fashion, echoed the same rhetoric. But the illogic here is that the same people, who ask Nigerians to de-emphasize religion in the leadership of their country, went shopping at motor parks in Abuja to recruit willing humans to clown as bishops at the public presentation of Shettima.
If, therefore, religion ought to be de-emphasized, why the effort at manufacturing the impostors? Why describe them as “30 bishops representing Christians? Or, was it lost on APC, and Shettima, that by describing the impostors as “representatives of Christians”, they were ridiculing Christians and Christendom in Nigeria and further expressing a loathsome attitude towards the leadership of Christians in Nigeria? Shouldn’t APC rather tender a public apology to Christians in Nigeria for such mockery of their faith and symbols instead of further manufacturing excuses to explain away the masquerading? I think, and strongly suggest, that it should.
The refusal of APC to apologize to Christendom in Nigeria over that outing, which presents itself as a blasphemous mockery of the Christian faith, further creates a new impression for the party as one which is totally insensitive to the religious diversity of the Nigerian society. This further lends itself to the argument that the mismanagement of the religious, and ethnic, diversity of the country by the APC since 2015 is actually a party policy meant to balkanize Nigeria and Nigerians along religious and ethnic lines. This is why 2023 presents itself as a God-given opportunity for Nigerians to correct the mistake they made in 2015 when they handed the future of their country to a bunch of characters whose only understanding, and expression of leadership, is exclusionism, annihilation, borrowing, and alienation from life.
The fact here is this: when APC presented those impostors and called them bishops, the party, and its leadership told a huge lie. Of course, those who have followed the dynamics of the APC leadership of Nigeria since 2015 know too well that the party had traded more with lies than it ever did with the truth. APC lied its way to power with all manner of promises which were ditched moments after it was declared the winner of the election. Since then, it has lied to Nigerians on almost everything about the management of their country. The consequence is that the economy of the country has collapsed with hyperinflation and hunger threatening to wipe out more families than kwashiorkor did during the civil war between 1967 and 1970.
That APC, at the center, has been a resounding failure is no longer in doubt. However, what is more nauseating is the suggestion that a same faith ticket for the 2023 presidential election is about competence, is foolhardy arrogance. Knowing that this line of argument has failed to defend this snobbish, derisive, and potentially divisive decision, APC has engaged the next gear to argue that what is more important is the good governance of Nigeria and not the faith of the party’s flag bearers. Again, that is self-immolating. There is nothing to suggest that only persons of the Muslim faith, from the northern part of Nigeria, are capable of berthing good governance in Nigeria. In fact, there is more evidence to suggest otherwise. Therefore, wherever APC turns in its bid to manufacture new excuses to defend its extremely divisive decision, it finds only brick walls that tell it that it had blundered.
However, can the other competing political parties capitalize on this self-immolating action of APC to give Nigerians the opportunity to sing the requiem for the party? In a football championship, a good coach knows that he will have a good outing when he realizes that the opposing team has made a faulty selection. It is not for him to point out the faulty selection. But, he must utilize the opportunity and take advantage of the weakness of the faulty selection to win.
He can talk of the faulty selection in a post-match conference. That is what many optimistic Nigerians now expect of the other political parties –to cash in on this APC blunder, a snobbish disdain for Christianity, and open demonstration of religious intolerance, for which some five senators of the United States of America (USA) had openly complained against, to punish it at the February polls.
Please, don’t tell me that the wife of the APC presidential candidate is a Christian. He did not marry her because she is a Christian nor did she agree to marry him because he is a Muslim. I suppose that they married for other reasons which include conjugal bliss and procreation. Not as a demonstration of religious tolerance.