This study was on the impact of same faith ticket on the Nigerian Political atmosphere: a Review of APC 2023 Choice of Presidential Candidate. Three objectives were raised which included: To examine if same faith ticket have an impact on Nigeria political atmosphere, to find out the challenges facing the choice of same faith presidential candidate in Nigeria, to investigate if same faith ticket will disrupt the fragile peace that exists among the different religious groups in Nigeria and Tto assess if same faith presidential ticket can engender peaceful and harmonious existence among the diverse peoples of Nigeria. A total of 77 responses were received and validated from the enrolled participants where all respondents were drawn from residents in Ikeja in Lagos. Hypothesis was tested using Chi-Square statistical tool (SPSS).
REVIEWED OF RELATED LITERATURE
The Place of Religion in Nigerian Nation
Nigeria as a nation is religiously pluralistic. Apart from the three major religions, Christianity, Islam and Traditional Religion, there are several others competing for relevance and recognition. In spite of this reality, in theory, Nigeria is a secular state. This has been indicated in the constitution since independence. For the purpose of emphasis, the word, secular, is derived from the Latin word ‘Secularis’, which means temporal. It is taken to mean ‘of or relating to worldly, as opposed to sacred things or having no particular religious affinities’. Secularism, as a doctrine, rejects religion. It maintains that religion should have no place in civil affairs and civil rules should have no interest in religion. Thus, a secular state is a state where religious communities have no recognized role in politics and no formal relation to the state. This is different from a theocratic or a religious state where religion determines what happen in the state. As stated in section 10 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, “the government of the federation shall not adopt any religion as State Religion”. Therefore, in policy formulation, governance, and other governmental activities, religion should not be an issue. By implication, every citizen has a right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. Section 38 is categorical, that:
- Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom (either alone or in community with others and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
- No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if such instruction, ceremony, or observance relates to a religion, other than his own or a religion not approved by his parents or guardian, and
- No religious community or denomination shall be prevented form providing religious instruction for pupils of that community or denomination in any place of education maintained wholly by that community or denomination
The constitution further emphasizes that national integration shall actively be encouraged. Accordingly, discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic, or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited, while national ethics shall be Discipline, Integrity, Dignity of Labour, Social Justice, Religious Tolerance, Self-reliance, and Patriotism. Also, membership of political parties is opened to every citizen irrespective of his place of origin, circumstances of birth, sex, religion, or ethnic group. From the foregoing, the religious policy in Nigerian constitution can be understood, theoretically. The legal provisions are made in order to ensure that citizens enjoy religious freedom and that the state or government does not affiliate itself or show preference for one religion. The principle ‘live and let live’ is held and the contribution that religion can make to the life of citizens are recognized, hence the belief in religious tolerance. However, it is a fact that religions are potent brotherhoods; displaying rather efficacious acquired family relationships on earth. Little wonder Takaya (1992) says: Like exclusivist clubs, cliques, or cults, members offer each other unmerited help, favours and considerations. This is what makes the politicization of religion most objectionable in a multi-faith society like Nigeria because the objectivity of “brothers’ in public offices are likely to be blured by religious considerations in serving a heterogenous community. (pp. 111-112).
Manifestations of Religion in Nigerian Politics
Religion has been a potent factor in Nigerian politics, thereby threatening her secularity. Religion manifests in various aspects of life in Nigeria, however, what is interesting is that caution has always been taken not to use religion to cause problem. This is done by making sure that no religion is overly preferred or neglected. For example, at public gatherings such as political rallies and national gatherings, it is either prayers are not offered at all or they are offered by leaders or functionaries of the recognized religious. In this case, if the opening prayer was said by a Muslim, a Christian will say the closing prayer, and vice versa. This is a way of preventing conflict, which may snowball into violence. On the issue of public holidays, Christianity and Islam are adequately taken care of as work free days are observed during their festivals. But, in the history of Nigeria, no public holiday has been declared for traditional festivals by the Federal Government. Though no official reason has been given, one is noticeable. The traditional religion is segmented and invariably, there is no common interest. Festivals are celebrated locally and many of them could last for a week or more and the times they are observed vary from one community to another. For this reason, there are no specific days or times as obtained in Christianity and Islam. More importantly, it has never been seriously impressed on the government, especially at the federal level, to declare public holidays for the celebration of these festivals. It follows that not so many people could proudly associate themselves with African Traditional Religion. The religion is highly segmented, localized and not universal. Also, as said by Mbiti (1976), zeal for evangelism manifesting in membership drive is not its attribute. Prior to the arrival of Christianity and Islam in Nigeria, traditional religion was firmly rooted. It is, therefore, ironical that Christianity and Islam are now more recognized than the traditional religion. Religious organizations have never pretended not to be interested in the affairs of the country as they are, for prayers areoffered for leaders and the country as an entity. These prayers are both solicited and unsolicited. Sometime ago, the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, enjoined all Nigerians to be praying for the nation (Asemota, 2019). While we are not condemning this, one is concerned about its constitutionality. This request did not appeal to the sensibility of those who believe that most of the problems confronting Nigeria are man-made. The states of health of the former president, Yar’dua, and the current president, Buhari, engaged the services of many religious personnel, who consistently prayed for their quick recovery. It was reported in the news media, shortly before the death of President Yar’dua, that some renowned clergy men visited him even when the then acting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, did not have free access to him. Another way of understanding the erosion of secularity in Nigeria is the establishment of the Pilgrim Welfare Boards by Nigerian governments[email protected].
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