One of the more theatrical moments of the last presidential campaign was the effort by Vice President Namadi Sambo to recite the opening chapter of the Quran. Unfortunately, what came out was so garbled that many people wondered whether that was the way he recited the chapter – which every adult Muslim must recite at 17 times – in the course of five daily prayers.
Several issues emerged from the fiasco, one of which bordered on the validity of the prayers of someone who clearly had no idea of the meaning and structure of what he was chanting. While it is out of my brief to question anyone’s spirituality, the slip was akin to a devout Christian being unable to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sambo’s attempt backfired spectacularly, and with the aid of new media, spread very quickly and became ammunition for the opposition.
Now, if we are to believe Sambo – who in the heat of electioneering renamed himself Namadina – one of the reason he wanted Goodluck Jonathan re-elected was his insistence that the out-going administration built hundreds of schools to accommodate and educate Almajiai – the millions of out-of-school children in the North. The program aims to combine Islamic and western education and give the pupils a chance to become productive citizens.
Now that it has been established that Sambo, who according to knowledgeable commentators, made at least 10 mistakes while reciting the 7 verses, it would be a good idea for him to enroll in one of the Almajiri schools he is so proud of. Age should be no barrier to learning, especially as it is clear that Sambo may be looking for what to do after leaving office.
By doing so, he finds a path closer to God, and in the event that another opportunity presents itself for Sambo to vie for the presidency in the future, he would not only be able to recite the Fatiha correctly, but should have learned enough of the Quran and Islam to know that using religion for politics is unwise, as he no doubt discovered, painfully.
Before APC loses its identity
Success, it is said, has many fathers. Conversely, failure is an orphan. That is the scenario that has been playing out since the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC General Muhammadu Buhari, won the presidential election. From the moment it became clear that the PDP, which vowed to rule Nigeria for 60 years had lost the election, thousands of its members began to decamp to the APC.
In just a week, what began as a trickle became deluge, and we shall surely see more people move from the PDP and other parties to the APC. The more the number of states the APC wins in the governorship elections, the higher the number of new members from other parties it will receive. This is in addition to several serving deputy governors, former governors and ministers, senators and all manners of politicians who have already decamped to the APC.
Nigeria’s constitution guarantees freedom of association and these opportunistic latter-day converts to the Doctrine of Change have the right to join any political party of their choice for any, or no reason at all. However, it is imperative that the APC does not become too diluted to the point of losing its identity. It is these same people that populated PDP, and the danger exists that they may overwhelm APC and bring in the kind of injustice and lack of internal democracy that has practically killed the party.
It is therefore essential for APC to not only safeguard its identity, but also bring about the change it promised Nigerians.
2015: The Talakawas Have It
The outcome of the 2015 presidential elections can be interpreted in several ways. One analysis that hasn’t received much interrogation is the change of power along class lines. All three presidents that Nigeria’s Fourth Republic has produced seemed incredulously geared to protect elite interests at the expense of ordinary citizens who simply want to security and the opportunity to pursue a better life.
President Goodluck Jonathan made no apologies about it, as he told his party’s fund-raising dinner that produced N21bn in one evening last year, “This party, as you all know, is a business-friendly party. The government of PDP encourages policies and will come up with programmes and policies that will promote enterprise and industry. We believe we must encourage commercial activities. And within this period that the PDP has been ruling, we’ve actually created a number of millionaires and billionaires.”
General Buhari’s election means that for the first time in 30 years (incidentally, back to Buhari in khaki), the lower classes in Nigeria have a president with whom they can relate, and who by choice and demeanor, is one of them. It is therefore imperative that the incoming administration implements policies and programmes that attack poverty and facilitate social mobility for the masses.