Sunday, July 17, 2022

USA Africa Dialogue Series - religious-identity-muslim-muslim-ticket-and-the-2023-poll/ The fundamental question is how religion became such a substantive issue that determines electoral success. This question is all the more so within the vaunted secularity of the Nigerian state. The secular creed not only separates between state and religion, but also denotes religious beliefs and faith as personal and private. The implication of this is that religious belief must not be taken as having any critical role to play in the public sphere where people's credentials transcend their faith. My credentials as of, say, a neurosurgeon, should absolutely have nothing to do with my faith. Being a Muslim or Christian does not add to the competence I possess in dealing with the human brain. But of course, we know that Nigeria is not really a secular state. Like ethnicity, successive governments have discovered religion as a divisive mobilising weapon. Once the Federal Government began to subsidise pilgrimages for both Christians and Muslims, religion had escaped the private space into the public for Nigerian politicians, fuelled by those who take religion ever so seriously.

The significance placed on religion flies in the face of the most fundamental issue in party politics—electoral victory. Politicians enter into electoral competitiveness to win elections and gain political power. And in doing that, their most significant calculation has to do with what possible political iterations could get them the positions they covet. Religion is just another variable in the mix which does not always count.

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