Ondo State Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN has condemned the incursion of religion into the country’s political arena, adding that it portends danger to the regime ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Governor Akeredolu, who underlined that the solution to the challenges facing the country does not lie in the religion of individuals, noted that a person’s religious conviction is based on personal conviction.
The Governor spoke on Wednesday at the first year Monograph of the Memorial Lecture and celebration of life of Professor Bankole Olusiji Oke, held at the University of Ibadan International Conference Centre, capital of Oyo State.
Arakunrin Akeredolu delivered the lecture titled “Nigeria: The Politics of Religion in a Society in Transition”.
While recalling that the public space must remain secular, the Governor noted that the current agitations for denominational political representation are rooted in a certain ignorance of the requirements of leadership in a multi-ethnic state like Nigeria.
He pointed out that the incursion of religious agitation is motivated by malice to turn the people against themselves to achieve political power, adding that any religious leader who ignores knowledge and skill as necessary criteria to measure the ability of leadership is an apostate.
The Governor, who warned that the sooner the people stop the dangerous and divisive sectarian campaign, the better for the country, added that any war waged to establish the supremacy of one religion over others can only end in the tears.
“The manipulative skills of politicians as they are currently used will make an already bad situation worse.” He said.
Governor Akeredolu explained that the clamor for the restructuring of the political regime and the agitation for a change of power must take precedence over the debate on representation based on religion.
“The army finally ceded power in 1999 and there has been civilian rule ever since. Nigerians are celebrating that the democratic experiment has remained unbroken ever since. There seems to be an understanding that power must rotate between North and South.
“This agreement witnessed the competition of two candidates from the South West for the presidency. It was part of the unwritten agreement that the power equation must be balanced to assuage the fear of domination harbored by the peoples of the South.
“There is a conscious attempt not to disrupt the existing arrangement. There has been a smooth transition from one civilian rule to another since 1999, the longest in the country’s political history.
“The current political permutations raise strong suspicions of an unstated motive to thwart the arrangement that has worked for the country. The rotation of the president’s office has always been between North and South since the advent of the Fourth Republic.
“The attempt to disrupt the process of democratic transition using all kinds of subterfuge portends unpleasant consequences.
“But beyond the agitation for the change of power, there is the quest for the economic independence of the states within the framework of the current political arrangement. The clamor for the restructuring of the political system should gain more ground than the useless noise made for representation based on religion.
“Those who overheat the political system for their personal aggrandizement should lend their voice to the question of the generation and control of resources by federated units.
“As the country prepares for another transition in 2023, it is reasonable to expect that the arrangement, which has spawned peace for nearly two decades, will endure for the benefit of all. Any attempt to alter this design to appease personal ambition can only make the already bad situation worse.
“Our people must reject any excessive envy that could negatively impact politics. The current rumors about the necessity of having people hold office on the basis of religion are not only dangerous, but, annoyingly, do not portray politicians as those interested in the public good.
“Religion has always been a weapon of manipulation in a society in transition. Religious leaders rely on the gullibility of their followers to actively participate in politics, while presenting a facade of spirituality. A developing country cannot afford to be distracted by the affairs of religion.
“Given that political gladiators are expected to magnify even the most irrelevant issues to score cheap political points, it is advantageous for opinion leaders, especially religious leaders, to act decently. Contesting political office and fighting for relevance should not be used as an excuse to mislead people.
“Most reasonable people will question the economic logic that pushes a country, supposedly practicing federalism, to run a monolithic economy. Let all those who campaign for representation do so first on the basis of economic participation. This should be the fundamental consideration.
“The distorted mentality that predisposes elites, both clergy and politics, to always engage in swapping in expectation of a sharing of largesse is deplorable,” he said.
The governor also described as highly regrettable the controversy surrounding the recent choice of ruling APC presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Muslim, to select Senator Kashim Ibrahim Shettima, another Muslim, as his running mate. presidency.
“This choice has generated unnecessary controversy. Those directing this apparent mischief ignore or are oblivious to the fact that the office of Vice President, as provided for in the 1999 Constitution, as amended, is harmless. The occupant of this office can only act under the directives of the president who holds the real executive power.
“It appears that these demonstrations are symptomatic of the level of distrust of members of the political class who are ready to do anything to seize power. The brazen foray of religion into the political arena portends danger to politics. Quality representation had absolutely nothing to do with the beliefs of a political office holder.
“Leaders of the two popular religions, Christianity and Islam, must avoid making inflammatory statements that could sow chaos in the political system. This is the time when all patriotic citizens must speak with one voice on the need for the economic emancipation of the regions. We need to start looking for ways to break the odious shackles of addiction that have almost brought the whole country down.
“We should all condemn and seek to end a system that encourages indolence. We must encourage all regions of the country to contribute to economic development. We should all tap into our respective areas of comparative advantage as was the case under the First Republic.
“And, therefore, we cannot afford to make the mistake of electing our leaders on false and sentimental premises. Just as no reasonable person will choose to be driven by a driver because of their ethnicity and religion, only competent aspirants with demonstrable ability should be considered.
“A heterogeneous society must have its affairs controlled by well-informed leaders with a proven record of public service. Motivational speeches and many quotes from the Holy Scriptures can only inspire. The job of president of a country in distress requires capacity, frankness and courage. He concluded.