The All Progressives Congress (APC) has expressed worry and disgust over the plan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to use religion as a trump card in the run-up to the 2015 general elections.
The opposition warned that even in its desperation to cling to power at all cost, the ruling party should desist from fanning the embers of religious discord among Nigerians.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, APC said that “This irresponsible accusation by the PDP that the APC is dividing Nigerians along religious line is a new low, even for a party that stands for nothing but incompetence, looting and election rigging.
“It is an indication that the desperadoes in the PDP will throw everything, including the kitchen sink, into their campaign to stop the wave of change blowing across Nigeria.”
APC said it refrained from joining issues with the PDP, despite the ruling party’s sponsored campaign to portray the opposition as an “Islamic” party, because it (APC) “knows the dangers that religious politics portends for any nation that brings religion into politics”.
It noted that no nation, which has descended into religious warfare, has survived intact.
“No party wishing to lead Nigeria aright can do so on the basis of religion or ethnicity. Therefore, we are compelled to warn the PDP not to play what it believes to be its trump card – the religious card – against the APC, because whatever politicians do, they must refrain from ethnic or religious politics and put their country above selfish considerations.
“Only an irresponsible party will play the religious card for any reason.”
The party said even when PDP’s leader, President Goodluck Jonathan, decided to wear religion on his sleeve, kneeling down before respectable religious leaders and pushing the pictures into the media in an apparent ploy to score political gains, the APC refrained from making any comment on it.
It said when President Jonathan also led a bloated delegation of his cabinet to an extended pilgrimage in Israel and ferret to the media back home the pictures of the delegation members at the Wailing Wall and other religious landmarks, the APC did not make an issue of the glaring exhibitionism.
“The basis of our circumspection is that in the first instance, we believe that all Nigerians are constitutionally guaranteed their right to any faith of their own choosing, and that playing their religious card should be avoided at all cost in the larger national interest,” APC said.
The party said it is neither logical nor rational to accuse a party, whose 35 interim officials are almost equally split between the followers of the two major religions – 18 Muslims and 17 Christians – and cuts across all ethnic lines; a party whose elected officials – governors, senators, House of Representatives members, among others – profess various faith and a party that has never expressed any preference for one religion over another as an “Islamic” party.
“We are, therefore, warning the PDP to stop this dangerous campaign forthwith, unless of course it has decided that its interest supersedes that of the nation. If the PDP fails to stop this campaign, we will be compelled to conclude that the party (PDP) is trying to plug in to the global stereotype against adherents of a certain religion just to spread fear and garner support in certain circles,” it said.
APC appealed to Nigerians to ignore the dangerous game that the PDP is playing by labelling the APC an “Islamic” party as a scaremongering tactic that the comatose ruling party hopes will revive it.
“Nigerians have a history of religious tolerance that has served the country so well. We urge our compatriots to continue along this path, irrespective of the antics of a party that has finally drowned due to its own internal failings and contradictions,” the party said.
It called for a clean electioneering campaign that focuses on issues that are relevant to the well-being of the long-suffering people of Nigeria and issues that are edifying for the country, saying Nigerians want to know, for example, how the present situation of hopelessness can be turned around, how corruption can be stamped out; how a 24-hour electricity supply will be achieved just like in most countries of the world; how our teeming unemployed youths will be gainfully employed and how our dilapidated infrastructure will be rebuilt.
“On our part, we are focused on issues that will lift the living standard of Nigerians and make our country great again, and these we have enunciated in our manifesto which is accessible on our website.
And once the green-light is given for electioneering campaign, we will be ready to unveil our strategies for achieving the stated objectives.
“For now, we ask anyone who needs to be convinced of our capability to visit any of the states under our control and see how we are utilising the scarce resources at our disposal for quality-of-life initiatives that are serving the people well,” APC said.
Also, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) yesterday warned the PDP to stop overheating the polity and insinuating that the APC is a Muslim party.
CNPP rejected the ruling party’s attempt to “covertly or overtly to introduce religion into our body politic as evidenced by the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) statement…”
In a statement yesterday in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Osita Okechukwu, CNPP said: “We never expected the PDP to take the dangerous route of annihilation and, therefore, wish to remind the PDP that the best way to cushion the mass exodus of their members to APC is not by stoking the fire of religion to burn down the country but by introspection and deep reflection on why their members are aggrieved.
“In fairness, we appreciate the desperation of the PDP to win 2015 general elections; however, the core ingredient of every election in liberal democracy is a referendum on the incumbent, not on branding or demonising the opponent…”