2023 AND RELIGION AS TWINS By Hashim Suleiman

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The last week had been agog with the El-Rufai/NBA saga, an event which further exposed the realities and depth of the fault lines that are existent in us. As soon as the dis-invitation came, the matter took a religious coloration with the core northern Muslim lawyers calling for boycotts of the NBA conference, on whether their boycotting the conference would or had any effect on the success of the conference is a conversation for other times.

Whilst El-Rufai was busy assembling the former Emir of Kano to clarify his non bigoted nature, his kinsmen did not stop in anyway to continue to push the narrative that the matter was an entirely religious matter. In fact, some headlines have it that the core northern Muslim lawyers have formed a parallel New Nigeria Bar Association ( NNBA). Again, whether such an association and its proprietors have what it takes to grow it to the statutes of NBA is another analysis we could come to in times to come, perhaps.

But in all of it, the events showcased our realities and an inkling to what could be expected in the 2023 election permutations where religion will be the biggest player. The saga above was a litmus test towards buttressing how much religion will play in the selection and combination of candidates for the 2023 elections.

Mr Yakubu Dogara had been readmitted into the APC weeks ago and the nation predictably assumed it to mean an arrangement for his becoming a vice presidential candidate to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for religious balancing. The suggestion came preemptive from the people, another point to buttress how much the 2023 elections was all about religion and balancing. The Dogara matter went so loud that the man had to come out to denounce vice presidential aspiration as his reason for rejoining the APC.

Remember also that the People’s Democratic Party is by the corner waiting to see the possible religious arrangement by the APC so they could arrange theirs with religion also forming the crux. Atiku Abubakar had since endorsed the launching of the Atiku TV brand as well as the Atiku Kawai 2023 and these are signals that he will certainly seek the candidacy of the PDP at least to go into primary elections with other candidates. Situations like these leave the APC with more thinking to do regarding the religious balancing because a Muslim northern candidate from PDP makes the combination from the APC who are likely to go for a South West candidate very difficult. Perhaps if it is going to be a Muslim south westerner, then his VP has to also be a Muslim northerner and one with strong standing.

It was out of deep thought that I presented Dr Isa Ali Pantami as near perfect fit for the 2023 presidential permutations and the above situations could provide a further insight plus being happy for the vindication on a daily. 2023 elections are going to be so tough that predictions will be very difficult and strategies especially the religious balancing and utterances will have to be top notch. It is advisable for the players to employ knowledgeable and strategic individuals who could have very little room for mistakes.

It was not a mistake or a fluke  that Abiola a southern Muslim was paired with Kingibe a northern muslim in 1993. The decision was out of critical research on the demography of the nation vis a vis religious considerations. As for Asiwaju Tinubu, it even becomes easier because he will becoming into the game with performance and progressive capital as well as ample presence of Christianity in him with Deaconess Remi Tinubu being one and same as him. Should he choose to become a king maker and anoint his loyal man Pastor Osinbajo, Dr Isa Ali Pantami will be appropriate in all the situations. Perhaps, Dr Isa Ali Pantami ascendence in religious and governance affairs have a date with destiny, time shall tell.

As for PDP, their best bet at coming close to clinching victory is the presentation of a northern Muslim candidate for president with a sound Christian deputy from the south who could be able to neutralize Ashiwaju’s hold to some extent. Even at this, with an Isa Pantami’s vice presidency, the calculations will be a little tougher for them, time again shall tell.

Political pundits like us wish to bring all these realities to fore in order that politicians and other compatriots can understand the need to reduce emotions in dealing with issues and accept reality and objectivity. For me, a Muslim- Muslim or Christian- Christian combination may be an opportunity for us to find our unity again as a nation. We have defeated some insinuations with the fact that Buhari has not yet Islamized Nigeria and will never do. The same religion combination could be an opportunity to finally bury some of these insinuations that are devoid of research and analysis on people’s antecedents and capabilities.

In the entire situations, all will be well that ends well.

May the best team emerge for the benefit of the nation.

Hashim Suleiman


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