The Muslim Rights Concern has strongly condemned a video clip of a Christian congregation in which the pastor was urging his audience not to vote for Muslim candidates.
The group described the video, which has gone viral, as divisive, parochial and archaic.
In a statement signed by its Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, the human rights group said a pastor could be heard in the video telling his congregation inter alia: “2019 will be the deciding year. We must wake up. We will not use our hands to vote for people who will kill us. We will not vote for people who have value for cows than value for life…You can be in any party of your choice but don’t vote for anyone who is against your faith. Don’t vote for anyone who will forget your vote and slaughter your neck.”
MURIC said it was miffed that a section of Nigeria, nay an Abrahamic faith, could be planning something as heinous.
It said: “It is as conservative as it is unpragmatic and as reactionary as it is ludicrous. Although suspicion has been rife for some time that something like this was going on, it is only recently that concrete evidence has been obtained. We have the video. It cannot be denied. What is certain, however, is that this church is not the only one involved. The anti-Muslim campaign is being actively promoted in almost all churches. It just happened that only one was caught.
“We are constrained to put the records straight now that Muslims are being portrayed as killers by Nigerian artists and the Nigerian church. Just one example should suffice for economy of space. In spite of all the noise made about Muslims killing Christians, none of the five killers arrested over the gruesome murder of two Catholic bishops and church members in Benue is a Muslim: David Akenawe, Agada Tsesaa, Tarza Orvanya, Manga Husseini, and Ngyohov Shin are all Christians and members of the notorious Benue militia. But we are not surprised that the Nigeria media ignored this Breaking News.”
MURIC therefore challenged the Christian Association of Nigeria to either endorse or disown the video and its contents, saying: “We have no other option than to openly ask the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) if it is behind this move. Is CAN leadership aware of this segregational campaign? Did CAN initiate it or did it just endorse it? Should we also believe rumours of CAN’s surreptitious meetings with high ranking foreign diplomats in unholy hours of the day? Is CAN aware of the security implications of such meetings? Is CAN with Nigeria or against Nigeria? Et tu CAN? It had better not be.
“What kind of people are we that we continue to drag ourselves backwards while the rest of the world is going forward? Election campaign should be issue-based. Religion is not given any room in politics in other climes. Why should we be looking at the faith of a candidate and not his pedigree, his integrity and his antecedence?
“It is a pity that CAN still pushes primordial sentiment like religion to the front burner when advanced countries only consider credibility and ability to deliver. Why is it that CAN cannot tolerate Muslim leadership after Muslims have tolerated Christian leadership for so long?”
The Islamic human rights outfit also wondered why Muslims should not be allowed to rule for the same long period that Christians have been in office.
It said: “It is on record that of the 16 wasted years of PDP rule, a Muslim (former President Umaru Yaradua) only ruled for two years and he died in office. Christians ruled for 14 years (ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo: 8 years and Goodluck Jonathan: 6 years). So why can’t you live and let live?”
MURIC contended that the idea of Christians voting for Christians only in order to elect a Christian president is unrealistic.
It said: “Even as divisive and destructive as it is, the idea of Christians voting for Christians only still remains naïve and utopia. Who told CAN that it can install a Christian president with an all-Christian vote? It is a mirage. CAN is day-dreaming. What if Muslims also ask their fellow Muslims not to vote for any Christian candidate? What do you think will happen? But we will not descend so low. We will not ask Muslims not to vote for Christian candidates. Whoever is behind this video and the anti-Muslim campaign in general is promoting anarchy.”
The organization argued that Nigeria is a heterogeneous, multi-religious and multi-cultural project, which belongs to nobody and it is bigger than any section.
For any progress to be made, Muslims and Christians as well as all ethnic groups, it said, have to sink their differences, adding: “We all have to work together. Nigeria is a wrong candidate for ‘possessing your possession’ slogans.”
Akintola admitted that Nigeria is blessed with good Christian candidates and credible Muslim candidates.
He urged Nigerians to create an enabling environment for the emergence of such good candidates.
Narrowing the search to any particular religion or ethnic group, he argued, is not only self-defeating but also counter-productive.
The group said it did not believe in religious politics.
It said: “In a nutshell, we reiterate our conviction that we do not believe in religious politics. We Muslims are prepared to peacefully coexist with our Christian neighbours in Nigeria. We urge Muslims to get their PVC and vote for both Christian and Muslim candidates of their choice. The only proviso is that such candidates must be reformers and game changers, not looters, kleptomaniacs and politicians in the daytime but armed robbers at night.”