Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa has urged Nigerians to elect leaders based on competence rather than dwelling on religious bias for the 2023 presidential elections.
Obasa made this known at the 14th Annual Hijrah Lecture organised by the Lagos Assembly’s Muslim community at the assembly complex in Lagos on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the event is: “The Role of Religious Leaders in a Democratic State”.
Obasa also urged religious bodies to deploy energy on issues that would unite Nigerians, rather than dwelling on those that would divide the nation.
The Speaker said whether the political parties were running on Muslim-Muslim tickets or Christian-Christian tickets or otherwise, their focus should be on the good intentions of the contestants.
He said: “Let us not allow politicians to bamboozle us with religion as a determining factor for who we will choose as our leader.
“Therefore, at this time when Nigeria stands at its most critical juncture in history regarding the 2023 general elections, there is a crucial call for religious bodies to deploy their collective spiritual energies in not only undermining the negative forces of nepotism and dysfunctionality but in positively enhancing the development of Nigeria.”
The speaker added that as enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria being a secular state, there was no provision for the elevation of a particular form of religion over another.
According to him, no Religion should be in charge of the government. What we have is freedom of religion.
“In some states of the country where either a Muslim or Christian had been in charge without any meaningful performance or development, this invariably translates to the fact that religious faith do not determine the success of a given government at whichever level.”
The speaker said rather, a competent, qualified, accomplished, and knowledgeable individual, irrespective of the religious background, should be their focus.
Obasa said all over the world where democracy was being practiced, it had been established that good governance was not determined by their religions.
He said: “In countries like the democratic states in Asia and some other parts of the world where neither Islam nor Christianity is being practiced, it is gratifying to note that good governance is seen all around them.
“There is no doubt that Nigeria is at a precarious phase in its existence as a nation. These are indeed trying times for Nigeria and Nigerians.
“My opinion is we should focus more on how the failure of politics and faith has compromised the unraveling of the Nigerian project.”
An Islamic Cleric, Dr Ishaq Sunuusi, who was a Guest Speaker at the event, said that Islam was about peace, love, compassion, understanding and justice.
Sunuusi, who condemned those against the All Progressives Congress (APC) Muslim-Muslim ticket for the presidential election, said Nigerians should avoid provocative statements and promote peace.
Going down memory lane, Sunuusi said there had been occasions, when Christian-Christian ruled at both the state and Federal levels.
Also speaking, Justice Abdurraheem Sayi of the Kwara Shariah Court of Appeal, called for uniformity among Churches and Mosques.
Sayi said there was no difference between Christian and Muslim and God had created everybody equally.
“Let us not be arrogant. You must love yourself and have love for others. We should not preach hatred and disaffection in religion.
“Pastors and Imams must lead people to virtue and some lives have not been touched the way they should be touched.
“Prosperity teachings lead to high financial crimes. When religious leaders are after prosperity, then there will be no virtues,” he said.
In his lecture, the Chief Imam of Offa in Kwara , Sheik Muyideen Husayu said every religions leader remained a messenger, adding that this must be done properly.
While saying that there was no difference between Islam and Christianity, Husayu stated that what mattered was competence of the presidential candidates.
“Politics is different from religion. Nigerians are one.
“Religion should be separated from nation building. All men of God are the same, so we should help one another.
“It is the duty of the followers to elect the leaders and we should stop saying that politics is a dirty game,” he said.