Leadership in our part of the world is most times given to people without the basic quality of leadership. What makes this very disturbing is the fact that majority of the masses don’t know the qualities of an excellent leader, while a large percentage of those who do, still resort to sentiment when it comes to choosing a leader.
There are two factors research has shown doesn’t qualify one to be a leader, yet Nigerians wields these factors as the ultimate qualities in choosing her leaders. Top on the list is Religion and right next to it is Tribe.
The game of politics has become a religious and tribal affair, with people already determining the outcome of an election that hasn’t even started with statements like “he would win because he is a Muslim” or “He is Yoruba, so he doesn’t have a problem” Excuse me, but what exactly are the results we have recorded from 1960 till date with all of our religious sentiment?
Here is what notable Nigerian historian Max Siollun, had to say “Military coups and military rule (which began as an emergency aberration) became a seemingly permanent feature of Nigerian politics.” There was a recurring pattern of coups and counter-coups, that were a succession of increasingly authoritarian and corrupt governments all full of false promises of democracy and new starts. The unfortunate reality of our military slavery days was that they were worse coloured with religious and tribal sentiments, those two dictated our coups and their counter more than anything.
Even till date, this is our testimony! With greedy politicians who have absolutely nothing to offer us, deciding to play the religion sentiment card. As we slide towards genuine democracy we must appeal these sentiments while building genuine culture.
Lagos State for example, from 1999 when sentiment gave Bola Tinubu edge over Funso Williams on the whims of party elders who Tinubu will later betray. Tinubu’s Emergence tilted the balance in favor of Muslims. With blatant disregard for fairness Tinubu handed the reins over to Fashola who happened to be another Muslim. The uproar of Christians in Lagos led to Ambode becoming the Governor. In treating Ambode’s disloyalty to APC, the party was careful not to rock their boat and so settled for Sanwo-Olu another Christian. Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, was the first to back the re-election of Sanwo-Olu when at the 2022 edition of IDDS on the 19th of February at The Apostolic Church LAWNA Territory Ground Ketu, declared there is no vacancy in Alausa. CAN’s influence in one way or the other confirmed second term ticket APC handed him.
It is only fair that the 16 years of Tinubu and Fashola be evened moving forward.
Disregard for this dynamic of religion in Lagos politics may turn out to be PDP albatross in 2023 election should it field a non Christian as its candidate. Sad as this may sound, it is the reality. With Sanwo-Olu already endorsed by Christian Association of Nigeria on a political platform viewed largely as an Islamic party by most Christians in Lagos, this view, Tinubu’s reaction to the formation of Directorate of Politics and Governance by RCCG on the instructions of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria has further strengthened. It will therefore be double tragedy for PDP if it loses its permutations against CAN and then to Muslims who believe APC is their party and Sanwo-Olu is nothing but a tenant. The only way for PDP to even the score is to field a Christian candidate, young enough to carry along the demography of the youth before whom Tinubu fell at the Lekki Toll Gate and have scores to settle with Tinubu.
Power and politics of religion is still quite evident, with some people wanting Sanwo-Olu to remain in power just because he is a Christian with little or no consideration for performance, and some extremists wanting to play the religion card against APC and Sanwo to bring in one of their own. The best will be to equal APC in the game while de-emphasising religion going forward.
When are we going to learn that “What state are you from” or “What’s your religion” are not questions to ask when in search of productive leadership through an election.
We need that one person from among the Soro soke generation who at Lekki triumphed over religion and tribes – elements of our division over the years – which politicians have found strength in. A young leader who can be trusted to lead Lagos away from the anchors of tribes, tongues and religious ties that have held our ship down from sailing to the promise land is for now the need of Lagos State.