For many years in Nigeria, religious leaders have been the ones determining the direction of their followers in politics. This has to do with the immeasurable loyalty the followers have on religious leaders as a class of sacred people who light the way. But some people, particularly the intelligentsia have been raising a critical question as to whether the religious leaders' act of public endorsement or recommendation of political candidates to their followers yields positive result or not.
In my own humble opinion which I am constitutionally entitled to, a time has come when religious leaders should, respectfully, retire from public endorsement and/or recommendation of political candidates to their followers.
Nigeria is a multi-cultural and multi-religious state that is drowning in the dam of underdevelopment. The politics of Nigeria is covered by a dark curtain of unhealthy rivalry along that centres on ethnicity and religiousity. Whenever a religious leader tells his followers to vote a particular candidate, they take the candidate as spiritually ordained and any opposition to him is more or less like a sinful act. This rather sparks off religious conflict amongst the followers as non takes it easy on any political confrontation. This happens even among the different creeds of the same religion.
In addition, politicians feel relaxed when endorsed by religious leaders and thus, abdicate their fundamental responsibilities. This also makes the politicians so much close to religious leaders to the extent that the former give out something to the latter which subsequently buys the mouth of religious leaders.
Most of the religious leaders do not form part of the poor masses. For this reason, the actions and/or inactions of the government do not directly affect them. It is my humble view that they are not in the right position to select a candidate for their followers. The poor masses should apply their sense of reasoning and use antecedents of politicians as yardstick for electing or re-electing politicians. The masses should humbly ignore anyone imposing any candidate on them.
What religious leaders should do is to play neutral; I do not mean, in anyway, they should be silent; they should be heard to commend good actions, criticise the bad actions and then come up with suggestions of improvement. The religious leaders should concentrate in preaching for both the politicians and the followers but not in playing politics.
It is my humble submission, therefore, that the masses should be allowed to elect their preferred candidates based on antecedents, based on what they have done to them.
Abdul Mutallib Muktar
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