It was Abraham Lincoln in the year 1863 who defined democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people. Democracy is the rule of the majority. A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.
However, while democracy is the rule of the majority, it is not a license to suppress the minority or to treat them with disdain because their votes are not significant enough to alter the political equation or determine who becomes president or governor among others. It is as a result of the need to avoid the tyranny of the majority that many democracies around the world encourage the inclusiveness of all sections of the society in the running of the country.
This is even more so in a multiethnic and multireligious countries.
In Lebanon the so-called confessional system divides power between Christian and Muslim communities in the Mediterranean country that is formally a parliamentary republic. Under a decades-old arrangement, Lebanon’s president must always be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shiite. While this arrangement is not perfect it has helped to prevent frequent religious wars that had hitherto ravaged that promising country that was once dubbed ‘The Paris of Middle East.’
In Nigeria, the political parties have made efforts to ensure balance in elective positions. That is why it is not uncommon that once the presidential candidate is from the South, the vice presidential candidate will be from the North and if the Southern presidential candidate is Christian, the vice president will be a Muslim from the North and vice versa. Not even the election of the leadership of National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly are left to chance.
Efforts are made to ensure balance in the spread of the principal officers of the legislature. This is also replicated in many states across the country that have sizable number of Christians and Muslims.
In such states once the governor is a Muslim, the deputy is always a Christian and vice versa.
As a matter of fact, in many states with diverse ethnicities the states have been divided into three zones using the senatorial district maps, thereby making it possible to rotate governorship positions between the three zones. There are those who are governors today that could not have risen to such exalted position but for the zoning arrangement in their states.
Similarly, senatorial seats are rotated between local government areas in each senatorial district, while also the House of Representatives seats are rotated among local governments in federal constituencies.
All this is to ensure balance and inclusiveness in the country.
This is also backed by the constitution under the federal character principle. This constitutional provision is to ensure that all public service institutions fairly reflect the linguistic, religious, ethnic, and geographic diversity of the country. Here are the lines from the constitution; “…the government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.”
The idea is to create conditions where no tribe or religion is favoured above another. Sadly, these fine lines are being disregarded by some politicians for selfish interests. We have had a situation where a state that is known for sharing power among the two major religions suddenly changed because a certain governor decided that both the governor and the deputy would be of the same faith. Despite the ethno-religious crisis that had bedeviled the state this particular governor has ensured that his successor and his deputy are of the same faith, which is the faith of the incumbent governor.
The governor’s action has widened the schism between the various ethnic and religious groups in the state. And sustainable peace has taken a flight. Many Nigerians who viewed the situation through the prism of justice, fairness and equity had been upset by this action. You can therefore imagine the shock to such Nigerians over the decision of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Muslim, to choose former governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Ibrahim Shettima, a Muslim, as his vice presidential running mate.
Many of Tinubu’s supporters have explained the action as the only way that Tinubu could win the 2023 presidential election. Politics of winning votes at the expense of fairness, justice and equity is politics without principle. Late Mahatma Gandhi of India classified politics without principle among the seven deadly sins. Gandhi emphasized that: “A person cannot do right in one department whilst attempting to do wrong in another department. Life is one indivisible whole. ”
In the immortal words of the founding fathers of the United States of America let us remind those seeking elective positions to be fair in selecting running mates and not just for the winning of election. “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness . . .” In other words, they are describing self-evident, external, observable, natural, unarguable, self-evident laws: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident.” The key to a healthy society is to get the social will, the value system, aligned with correct principles.
In summary, the implication of a one faith ticket is that Christians who constitute more than half of this country will not have a representative at the top executive branch at the national level of governance. In other words, number one and number 2 will be of same faith exclusively. Think about that. Yet, our constitution prescribes a balanced representative democracy. Even during the military rule, the military ensured that the second in command was always of the other faith. Former heads of state, General Yakubu Gowon and General Olusegun Obasanjo had Muslim second in commands while former military president General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) and former heads of state late General Sani Abacha and General Abdulsalam Abubakar had Christian deputies.
The presidential candidate of APC has made his choice, it is now left to Nigerians to decide whether to go along with him or vote otherwise.
MAY NIGERIA REBOUND