Nigeria Politics: The Religion and Ethnicity Card
By Paul Akintunde
Watching the Lagos deportations and the Femi Fani-Kayode(FFK) facade is so much of a fun but behind the fun stood so many unasked questions and recurrent socio-political shackles that we have refused to be conscious about. I will trudge the path of Lagos deportations first to ask the unasked questions before heading on to the
FFK uttercations. I will like you to sit down relaxed putting aside all sentiments and accompany me down the path, step by step.
I am not suprised about the Lagos State deportations development that drew the attention of the media houses without excluding the social media some few weeks ago, not because I’m expecting it but because it won’t be the first time that people will be deported, excluded from a state work force or denied indigeneship of where they grew up into maturity and raise children, using constitutional provisions as justifications for it and I’m sorry to say this, it won’t be the last either.
This development is not peculiar to Lagos State but that which is fundamental to the “national identity” question. It is happening in every nook and cranny of Nigeria; where no one is innocent and everyone is a victim. I must say this, there is no way such an act can be justified and stayed justified from my own stand , though there are ways some people might have justified it including using the Nigeria constitution but it can never stayed justified.
How can we promote national identity when our constitution is kicking against it, when we as a people to whom sovereignity belongs refused to give it a chance not to talk of promoting it, I guess there is no way we can. It will be unreasonable and unknowledgeable to point accusing finger and faults Babatunde Raji Fasola(BRF)’s administration or Lagos State as whole just to lick our wounds and satisfy our displeasure regarding the development, for this won’t put an end to it either in Lagos State or any part of Nigeria thereof. It will only resulted into a weapon for the political elite to manipulate, decieve and use the Nigeria electorates to retain or hijack power.
Either way, the spoils belongs to the political class while the Nigeria people will remain helpless and hopeless.
I don’t want to know what is going through Femi Fani-Kayode(FFK)’s mind when he was writing that controversial article of his, which brought ethnic differences into picture but I believe he was only executing a political suicide involving the APC or he’s carrying out the political assasination he was being paid to carry out by the PDP.
Choosing the Lagos deportations as a ground to execute his plans is very effective and actually add more salt to the wound of the igbo community in Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general who felt they are an intentional target of a communal attack and are being trampled upon.
FFk specifically prey on the fragile and almost non-existing national identity just to rake in votes for a faction of the political elite using the ethnicity card(check-up card) and not the religion card(last card) though some people might say its unintentional but anyways, he played that card way too early.
Many will ask, what do I mean? Come to look at it, it is said that the igbo community is like 30% of the Lagos population, if that population vote against the ruling political party to favour the opposition at state level, I’m sure that power won’t be retained but hijacked.
I guess you will agree with me that FFK’s uttercations might be a political strategy in disguise or worst; an accidental political suicide and the latter justifies he’s not speaking on behalf of BRF’s administration nor Lagos State, and someone should tell him that mouth-diarrhea kills. You should know that the religion card and ethnicity card is as old as independence in Nigeria, we’ve seen it before, we are seeing it now and we will still see more of it.
I will briefly take into account few events where both cards were played during 2011 elections, the religion card was played in Oyo State in favour of Alao Akala but it failed as the christian community decided to vote for societal development rather than sentiments while both the ethnicity card and religion card was played in the presidential elections.
The religion card played out well in the north in favour of General Muhammadu Buhari, [GMB] but wasn’t enough to win the election though many believe that the votes in the north were tampered with while the religion card didn’t played out well in the south but the ethnicity(in form of regional) sealed the fate of the election in favour of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan [GEJ] and I’m sure we are all regretting it right now.
However, my concern is how do we move forward from here? It’s simple, we the citizenry of Nigeria must grow beyond our religious and ethnic barriers/differences and ask with one voice for a constitution that promotes national integration and national identity, that is indifferent to our colour, language, dialect or religion; that makes anywhere and everywhere within the four conners of the nation our origin, our home and live like brothers without discrimination. We must show them we will only vote for the one with most benefits, that we won’t be manipulated through sentiments and money.
Only then will the card of religion and ethnicity will loose its value in Nigeria politics and decision making by the citizenry.
The writer is on Twitter as @Aabiolat