2023 election: Catholic church opposes same religion tickets

Independent National Electoral Commission
Independent National Electoral Commission

Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has joined in cautioning political parties against fielding candidates from same religion, Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian.

It described the option as most insensitive and a tacit endorsement of the negative voices of many non-state actors who have been threatening the nation’s unity and peaceful coexistence without arrest.

Fr. Michael Umoh, the church noted that the decision by any political party to field candidates of same religion wouldn’t have been an issue, but for the fragility and suspicion in Nigeria.

“Ordinarily, there would have been nothing wrong with a Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian ticket in a democratic dispensation if there is mutual trust and respect for the human person and where the overriding desire for seeking political office is the fostering of the common good. But one cannot really say so of our country at the moment.

“With the present glaring crisis and division in the nation, a Muslim-Muslim ticket would be most insensitive and a tacit endorsement of the negative voices of many non-state actors who have been threatening this nation’s unity and peaceful coexistence without an arrest.

“Even in the despotic military era, most juntas ensured a balance of the religious architecture in their regimes. For instance, we had Murtala-Obasanjo, Obasanjo-Yar’adua, Babangida-Ebitu Ukiwe, Abacha – Diya. This also applied to the Heads of the various military formations and the different government parastatals like Customs, Immigrations, Finance, etc. Significantly, it was only during the General Muhammadu Buhari’s era as military Head of State (31 December,1983 – 27 August,1985) that we had a Muslim-Muslim military dictatorship.

“Similarly, only once did we have a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 1993 democratic elections, which featured Abiola-Kingibe ticket and turned out to be one of Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections. But that government never took off. Fast forward to 2022, 30 years later, some individuals have tried to suggest the Muslim-Muslim ticket for the Presidential election in a country like Nigeria that has unfortunately been badly polarised.”

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The Catholic Church, thus, advised political parties toying with divisive agenda to have a rethink by presenting a more inclusive ticket, while calling on all people of goodwill to resist the budding injustice that may be hatched against a cross section of the people.

“It is imperative to note that all Nigerians, irrespective of creed or region, are equal, as such, there must be sensitivity in the spread of political positions without compromising competence. We call on all Nigerians, individually and collectively, to do everything in their power to seek and work for peace, unity and justice in Nigeria,” it said.

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