AHEAD of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly on Tuesday, northern elders have warned against the imposition of the 10th Senate President, insisting that the idea that the quality of our faith should not be adopted in deciding leaders.
Noting how worrisome and divisive religion has become in today’s politics, a northern socio-political organisation, under the umbrella of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) tasked Vice President Kashim Shettima over his comments that “under the current dispensation, the worst incompetent Southern Christian is better than the most puritanical Northern Muslim for the Presidency of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
At a press conference on Monday in Kaduna, the Director Publicity and Advocacy, of NEF, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said Shettima’s statement would have been avoided had the senators-elect been allowed to pick their leader.
He reiterated that that the 109 senators-elect be allowed to choose their leaders and warned against the imposition of a Senate President.
A former Secretary of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Baba-Ahmed explained that the attempt to impose the Senate leadership caused the unfortunate statement by the vice president.
He said, “a particularly outstanding comment made by him is that under the current dispensation, the worst, the most incompetent Southern Christian is better than the most puritanical Northern Muslim for the Presidency of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The statement of Vice President Shettima in the context of the commitment of the administration to determine the legislature’s leadership makes references to Muslim and Christian faiths in the most unbecoming and irresponsible manner imaginable.
“It deepens the worrying position of religious faith as a fault line in our politics today and denigrates the place of an important value such as faith in conduct of elected leaders, whether they are Muslims or Christians.
“The suggestion that poor faith and incompetence can be preferred to piety and competence when it suits political interests sends damaging signals to a nation desperate for good leadership.
“A statement of this nature coming from a Northern Muslim who has earned his respect in the course of his political career is most unfortunate.
“The suggestion that the piety of leaders could be sacrificed for political exigences offends a nation of Christians and Muslims who watch as leaders swear by the Qur’an and the Bible to protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Baba-Ahmed added, “the Vice President has done himself, his faith and his standing a great injury with his comments, and the Forum hopes he can find appropriate opportunities to assure Nigerians that the Tinubu administration will respect sensitive values that define us as Nigerians.
“It is important that Nigerians discard the notion that the quality of our faith has no place in deciding those who lead us.
“It is instructive that leaders who rode on the back of faith now turn around to advise that it is of no significance where their interests are at stake.”
The elders called on the administration to respect the rights of the lawmakers and allow them to choose their leaders.