BusinessDay

2023: Let’s ignore Tinubu’s deliberate religious provocations

ASIWAJU Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Jagaban Borgu, is a man of great wisdom. Some would say a sage. Any suggestions to the contrary would be a denial of his political sagacity that led to the creation of fawning fellows who worship and swear with his name.

Even they agree that he is a political curiosity that throws up more questions than answers.

Tinubu is credited with the creation of modern Lagos. Whatever he did, and still does, has earned Lagos a global ranking of one of the world’s most uninhabitable cities. Tinubu is proud of his Lagos to the astonishment of those who distract him with questions about his origins and claims to academic qualifications.

He gets some of his kicks from constant tugging at the religious sinews of the country. After the generous time he deployed to having an irreverent presidential ticket that was about one religion he was not satisfied. The efforts it took to dredge history for irrelevant references to justify his decision were not enough too.

Many took consolation in the fact that options to Tinubu were available. They had thought that in 2022 with all the feelings and fears that needed to be assuaged Tinubu would act differently. He did not.

The most ridiculous defences had been made for his choice, notably the comparison with the 1993 presidential ticket of MKO Abiola that had Alhaji Babagana Kingibe as the vice presidential candidate. The Muslim pair won the annulled election. Abiola died in detention while insisting on the realisation of his mandate.

Why would such an example come to Tinubu’s mind? Did he understand the implications of his example? How else could he show how bereft of substance his decision was?

Kashim Shettima, the former Governor of Borno State that Tinubu chose, has several allegations of chumminess with Boko Haram whose terrorist activities have long redefined Nigeria. His mumbled defences simply elevate the concerns.

Debates on the suitability of Shettima, the complications of his presence on the ticket and possible exclusions the decision entailed had been so intense that there were speculations that Tinubu could drop him. We did not know we had more coming.

Wednesday’s formal unveiling of Shettima was a great opportunity for Tinubu to ridicule the Christian faith through the invitation of some characters who caricatured Christian religious outfits as representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN. They were addressed as bishops, normally apex authorities in the faith.

Nobody would deny Tinubu his right to invite whoever he wanted to his party. With his aspiration to national leadership he was expected to factor in the sensitivities particularly in matters of a faith he had deemed immaterial to his presidential ambition.

Doubts on how Tinubu regarded Christianity could not have been cleared by the appearance of fellows who if they were intended to be clowns still did not fit the part.

The Tinubu of details, strategic thinking, winner of battles, could not have treated an important strategic thrust of his campaign with levity. No details were spared in ensuring that the procured Christian clerics at the event were noticed for all the wrong reasons.

If their presence was to underline the unimportance of Christianity in Tinubu’s proposed Nigeria, the message hit home. The bishops arrived late, were tucked away in the public gallery, had no role in the event, and could be seen fetching seats for themselves in the manner of uninvited thugs at a political rally.

The event would have passed evenly without our sensibilities being insulted by people wearing skull caps, some of which seemed like half cups of a fairly endowed lady’s brassiere. Tinubu, whose presidential ticket wobbles from one controversy to another, had an intriguing message for the audience.

People are trying to understand it. Post-event defences of the atrocity included one from Tinubu who promised to create great denominations for his clerical guests.

Read also: Tinubu absent as Buhari meets APC stakeholders in Aso Rock

None of the other candidates unveiled their running mates with such sickening comedy. When Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, presented Bishop Isaac Idahosa as part of his ticket, the event was so bare of religion that some thought bishop was part of Idahosa’s name not a religious title. Idahosa dressed in civvies.

People’s Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar announced Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa at a simple ceremony that extolled virtues of his choice not religion. The same applied with Peter Obi and Dr. Datti Baba-Ahmed of Labour Party. No funny figures were in sight.

Were respect for Christianity important, the organisers of that choreographed charade could have known the abhorrence of putting sacred attires of worship to profane uses. There have been insipid attempts to dismiss the message of this misconduct that another religion would not tolerate.

Could what happened on Wednesday be tried on Tinubu’s religion no matter how minor the scale? Does he think his deliberate provocations of Christians are unnoticed?

Yet we should not permit him the pleasure of plunging Nigeria into religious confrontations. Nigerians should ignore these deliberate, determined steps to drag us away from the issues that will define our future.

Only those who do not respect Tinubu’s compulsive attention to details would deny him the authorship of the disturbing display at Shettima’s unveiling.

Finally…

THE latest update on ending ASUU’s strike is a windy statement about President Muhammadu Buhari mandating Dr. Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, to handle the matter without Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige. One had thought it was a labour dispute.

.Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues

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