AHEAD of the 2023 elections, the Northern Christian Youth Initiative (NYCI) has condemned the activities of politicians using religion under any guise as the basis for their political rallies and electioneering campaigns.
The group condemned the attacks by the former speaker of the house of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, and the erstwhile secretary to the government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal, on the same-faith ticket decision of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
It would be recalled that Dogara and Lawal, who are APC chieftains and some Church leaders had argued against the emergence of two Muslims as the party’s flag bearers for the 2023 polls, saying it was against religious balancing
But the Northern Christian Youths argued that the overemphasis on the ruling party’s choice of standard bearers of the same faith at the expense of other critical issues by the duo of Dogara and Lawal could plunge the country into a religious war.
NCYI’s Convener, Hon. Mike Msuaan Msuaan, in a statement on Friday night, insisted the both men were staunch supporters of the candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
He said, “As a matter of fact, Babachir Lawal authored very damaging write ups against the Vice president of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo ;himself a Christian and a presidential aspirant in the APC primary that produced Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Babachir Lawal, demeaned his fellow Christian, in support of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is a Muslim. Hon. Dogara was also a known supporter of Tinubu
“We did not find Both Hon. Yakubu Dogara and Babachir Lawal canvassing votes for any Christian candidate during the APC primary. We expect the duo who have become accidental defenders of the Christian faith to have stood for either, Prof Osibanjo or Hon. Rotimi Ameachi who where also top presidential contender during the party primary
“We expect that people who have held such exalted positions like those held by Hon. Dogara and Babachir Lawal in the past would be cautious in sowing seeds of division, be it religious, ethnic or regional. Hon. Dogara was not elected as a member of the house of Representatives and subsequently the speaker of the house of Representatives on the basis of his faith, neither was Babachir Lawal appointed SGF because of his region. They both found themselves in the office to uphold the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“A school of thought has it that both Dogara and Babachir nursed intentions of becoming vice presidential candidates to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and worked for his emergence. Their inability to to secure such endorsement is touted as the singular selfish reason they have become very bitter and are moving around sowing seeds of division.
“The resort to divisive machinations in the manner Hon. Dogara and Babachir have resorted to, after losing out in the consideration for the vice presidency are unbecoming of statesmen who have risen to such exalted positions of leadership in the country they intend to destroy now is condemnable.
“Hon. Dogara has won elections in a nearly Muslim-dominated constituency. The electorates did not vote for him on the basis of his religious inclination, or consideration, nor were they voting him to represent any religious group at the National Assembly.
“The build-up to 2023 general and the contending interests will no doubt generate tension in the country on its own. Leaders like the former speaker of the house of Representatives and the SGF who should champion the vanguard for peaceful, free and credible elections must not embark on voyages to heat up the polity in the name of settling political goals.”
The group, therefore, cautioned the Christian Association of Nigeria CAN and Christians generally to be weary of the sudden defence and interest politicians like Hon. Dogara and Babachir Lawal seem to have for the defence of Christianity when in reality they supported a Muslim candidate to emerge as the presidential candidate of the APC.
“The country is facing economic challenges, security issues such as Kidnappings, banditry, Boko Haram, herders and farmers crisis are issues that we must urgently address as a matter of national emergency. This is the time to look for leaders who have the competence to tackle these problems and unite the country.
“NCYI completely condemns the activities of Dogara and Babachir as capable of causing religious war and endangering northern Christians,” the statement added.