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Nigeria’s election: six risks of blending faith with politics

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One of many points that has generated nice concern amongst voters within the run as much as the Nigerian presidential elections is faith.

Many Nigerians see the blending of faith and politics as an obstacle to progress and growth. This concept will be traced to Europe. The Center Ages had been a time when non secular authorities and political authorities clashed in European states, leading to instability. The necessity to separate faith from politics thus turned normalised in western political thought by the early twentieth century. Through the years the concept discovered its approach into different societies.

Recent studies have proven that, in reality, the connection between faith and politics isn’t all the time unproductive. Faith embeds some doctrines resembling love and obedience to political authority that assist secular authorities and the event course of. And spiritual authorities and their followers have the capability to be tolerant.

Nonetheless, the expertise in multi-religious societies the place non secular communities vie for sources and energy does level to some risks for peace, growth and democracy.

This has grow to be obvious within the construct as much as Nigeria’s 2023 presidential elections. For example, the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Northern Christian Elders Discussion board have cautioned in opposition to the nomination of Muslim vice-presidential candidates by the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party.

Spiritual our bodies’ curiosity in who wields the ability of the state just isn’t misplaced. However the extent of their intervention can portend critical risks for the state.

These risks have extreme implications for the election and its end result. The legitimacy and energy of the state may very well be challenged. Faith claims to be primarily based on divine authority, which it considers to be superior to that of the state. This threatens the state’s legitimacy, on condition that its authority derives from the folks and the structure.

Six risks

Faith’s inroads into politics in Nigeria aren’t new.

For the reason that return to democratic governance, faith has influenced how state energy is captured. This may be seen within the political statements of non secular establishments, their selection of candidates and the inclination of candidates to show to their non secular communities for assist.

The pattern continues in 2023, with slight variations.

Firstly, main candidates have appealed to their religion communities, as up to now. Maybe what’s new comes from the All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu; he’s a Muslim and his spouse a Christian. Somewhat than interesting to 1 religion group, Tinubu is searching for assist from two. Usually, this could promote non secular tolerance. However a religiously numerous household that controls state energy won’t be immune from competitors for affect from every faith.

Secondly, there was an outcry from some quarters about the truth that the ruling All Progressives Congress is presenting voters with a “Muslim-Muslim ticket.” The get together’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates are each Muslim.

The final time this occurred was in 1993. In that ballot Nigerians overwhelmingly voted for Moshood Abiola and Babagana Kingibe – probably as a result of Abiola broke by way of the non secular divide by way of philanthropy and enterprise investments. As we speak, having an identical ticket is dangerous.

Thirdly, fuelling the anger concerning the Muslim-Muslim ticket is the escalation of terrorist assaults by Boko Haram in north-east Nigeria. Each Muslims and Christians have been victims of the phobia. However the fashionable impression amongst Christians is that they’ve been the most targeted for persecution and Islamisation.

Fourth: religion is a lifestyle for many individuals in Nigeria. It has a direct impression on their social and political choices. The hazard right here is {that a} non secular group may insist on voting one in every of their very own members into workplace although the candidate is usually thought-about to be a misfit.

The fifth hazard is that inter-religious conflict may very well be ignited if one non secular group rejects the candidate of one other, or if a politician mobilises his non secular group in opposition to his opponent in one other faith.

Faith may be used to mobilise ethnic assist in opposition to political competitions from different teams. Nigeria just isn’t solely multi-religious but additionally multi-ethnic. The nation has witnessed many incidents of conflicts alongside ethno-religious line. The civil conflict of 1967-1970 was probably the most catastrophic.

Lastly, there’s the risk that citizens may very well be excluded from the political course of. If a non secular group, by advantage of numbers, is allowed to dominate the political house, it may forestall minorities from having a say and being represented in authorities. Nigeria has substantial numbers of indigenous non secular practitioners and a growing atheist group. Any of them would possibly really feel excluded by the dominant Muslim-Christian politics.

Mitigation methods

One approach to mitigate these threats is for the structure to correctly outline the place of faith within the electoral course of.

The Nigerian public and the political events have labored out a short lived system known as “religious balancing.” With this casual system, a Muslim candidate stands for election with a Christian deputy, and vice versa.

However this time the ruling get together is fielding two Muslim candidates for the upcoming election. The structure wants to deal with the difficulty. It recognises the non secular variety of Nigerians however is silent on the non secular identities of political workplace holders.

Additionally it is essential to include the leaders of a wide range of non secular communities into authorities and political events. Spiritual leaders can educate their followers to assist any politician regardless of their non secular variations.

Spiritual tolerance can be needed. Tolerance promotes inter-religious understanding, which in flip helps folks to respect one another’s political selections.

Mixing faith with politics doesn’t bode effectively for the ongoing tension in lots of elements of the nation. These tensions may critically injury the already fragile Nigerian state.