Point of View: The year is 2079, and Nigerians are still debating on having a Muslim-Christian ticket as the country is religiously fragile despite the 80 years of having a Christian and Muslim ticket. No empirical evidence of solving the religious issues as the tensions still persist – because everyone keeps on politically ignoring that the tensions stem from the misinterpretation of Islam by those who extol violence.
The peaceful coexistence between Southern Christians and Southern Muslims shows that liberalism, education, tolerance, and not ticket balancing, are responsible for the religious peace in the south. Currently, out of 17 governors in the South, 16 are Christians and out of 17 deputy governors, 14 are Christians, with the Muslims in the minority and no one feeling alienated or marginalized.
Over the past few days, there has been a lot of chatter over the religious belief of the running mate of the APC’s presidential flagbearer.
Critics have said this is a slap on the face of Christians by the APC – ignoring that the APC just gave them a senior pastor for 8 years as VP, who is berated for not improving the country’s economy. The economy overrides religion.
The APC responded by saying they chose “competence ahead of religion” which we all know is disingenuous as they have chosen their clearest path to electoral victory like their opposition has done.
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Speaking of opposition, The PDP ignored zoning and if they win the election, we are looking at the possibility of 16 straight years of northern rule. Would the country destabilize? The PDP picked a Christian as VP but their presidential candidate deleted a tweet condemning the barbaric killing of a Christian for blasphemy – does that not highlight the choice of a Christian VP as a performative one?
“What is the point of winning the election and losing the country?” – someone tweeted regarding the risks a Muslim-Muslim ticket presents. No one can scientifically prove that the country will be lost with a Muslim-Muslim presidency as different religious combinations have not improved our security situation – which leads to the next point.
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In the past 24 years of having religious combinations, we are yet to measure the impact of peace it has produced. We are yet to measure the effect of the active role played by the ticket holders in ensuing religious peace. People who say extremist groups would be emboldened by a Muslim – Muslim ticket are running assumptions that have no merit. The most rampant Boko Haram has been was under a Christian leader, and under a Muslim president, their dominance over 14 Local governments reduced to the isolated incidents we witness today.
Security is the overarching issue. You cannot checkmate an extremist by having a “Christian Vice.” You can only counter extremism by having adequate security and intelligence to jettison their attacks!
Education is very important in ensuring religious co-existence. No one is born religiously intolerant. Educating people about the need for peaceful co-existence does better than having a Christian running mate – which is the equivalent of placing plaster over a gunshot wound.
We need to move from sentiments to science. The context of having different religions on the ticket is an unwritten rule to checkmate religious excesses or extremism. But has it been, or is it much ado about nothing in the words of William Shakespeare?
Religious intolerance has the same ilk as racism. Deep-rooted as a result of lack of education, background, conditioning, and cultural factors. Implementing a White and Black ticket in the USA will not solve racism. Study shows that race relations worsened under the Obama presidency.
With regards to ethnicity, there’s a general understanding of why a balanced ticket of south and north is important – as the federal quota explains why regions need representation. As a leader, you are possibly biased to favour policies or programmes for your region. So, there’s merit to this need.
Another need the country should look into is to have a ticket that has both genders. Nigeria has been recording low participation of women in elective and appointive positions.
Just as regional representation helps with favourable policies for regions, gender representation will help with policies favourable to women. Better representation will ensure women’s voices are heard and their issues fairly recognized, as studies show that women legislators are more likely than men to address women’s interests. Representation in government affects more than just policy – it’s a tool for social empowerment.
Since the turn of democracy, our politics has been predominantly patriarchal as no dominant party has considered a female on their ticket for the presidential and vice-presidential slots. Women account for 47% of voters in the country, yet they are underrepresented in public office. There has never been a female president or vice president. There has never been a female governor of any of the 36 states, and only 7 female senators exist among the 109 senators in addition to the paltry 14 seats occupied by women out of the 360 House of Representatives seats. This is appalling given that women represent 49% of the country’s population.
All we have been served are popular First Ladies who helplessly lend their voices to socio-economic issues. But given the fact that the Office of the First Lady has no constitutional executive powers, would we have seen more results if women were elevated from the “other room” to the Number 1 or Number 2 positions in the country.
Gender equality produces objective results. The advantages of women and their leadership styles are not dependent on women being a minority group in elected office; the benefits will continue as long as women continue serving. This is supported by studies in the business world, which show that having women in leadership roles helps to increase profits. If productivity is the legislative equivalent of business profits, then electing women is the key to success for government efficacy.
Furthermore, an American University report finds that women legislators “work harder for their constituents,” and a study on city councils in America confirms that females “spend more time doing constituency service.”
Nigeria has the lowest rate of women in parliament in Africa, with the number steadily decreasing since 2011. In key appointed and elective positions, women did not reach the 35% target.
Legislators choose from among countless pressing social, economic, and political issues which translate to women’s empowerment and education.
We all know that it’s important to educate girls – it is the one consistent determinant of progress for practically every development outcome, from mortality declines to economic growth, democracy, and equity.
The power of girls’ education on national economic growth is undeniable: a one percentage point increase in female education raises the average gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.3 percentage points and raises annual GDP growth rates by 0.2 percentage points.
Invariably, more policies favourable to women come with more education, which comes with more household productivity and earnings, and consequently more taxes and revenue for the government. Do you see the ripple effect?
Only 27% of women aged 15 and older have an account at a financial institution or with a mobile money service provider in Nigeria. More earnings from empowered women would see more women own accounts, which would see the financial system strengthen as banks would have more money to play the role of financial intermediary, and give out more loans that impact businesses and the national economy.
Isn’t this scientifically more impactful than a Muslim-Christian ticket? I rest my case.