The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has warned the political parties competing for the seat of the presidency that a Muslim President and Vice President was a recipe for crisis.
In a letter signed by CAN national secretary, Joseph Daramola and directed to the chairmen of all political parties in the country, the association, along with the Catholic Society of Nigeria called for balance on the tickets to guarantee peace and security after the elections.
The letter read,
“As the umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, we call on all the presidential candidates to choose men or women of alternative religion as their running mates. For avoidance of doubt, the CAN will not accept any presidential ticket that is Christian-Christian or Muslim- Muslim.
“This simply means that where the presidential candidate of the party is a Christian, the deputy should be a Muslim; and where the presidential candidate is a Muslim, the deputy should be a Christian.
“There should not situation where the presidential ticket of a political party in Nigeria, whether a major or minor party, will be two Christians as presidential candidate and running mate, or two Muslims as presidential candidate and running mate. All within us as Nigerians must be done to douse religious and ethnic tensions in the land.
“This minimum requirement for a valid presidential ticket in the Nigeria of today is that it is religiously diverse. With the crisis of religious fundamentalism and its mainstreaming into policy making and administrative actions in Nigeria today, anything short of a Christian-Muslim or Muslim-Christian ticket is an undisguised effort to nurture religious conflicts and destabilize the country.”
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Furthermore, the letter stated that any plot by any political party for a one religion ticket is a plot to deliberately stoke the fire of religious warfare.
“The westernization of religious difference in the recent past as never before is a cause for concern and a sufficient reason for those of us who do not want this nation to go into avoidable crisis to cry out now. It will be plain disrespect for diverse religious communities in Nigeria for any party to go against common sense to foist a single religious ticket in a religious plural country with serious problems of religious extremism and violence on Nigerians. No party in Nigeria can deny the existence of credible men and women from both Islam and Christianity that can be their Presidential and running mate.
“Whereas CAN is not a partisan organisation and does not involve itself with the process of partisan politics, it has a responsibility to defend the religious freedom of Nigerian citizens, whether Christians or not. CAN has a responsibility to speak out and mobilize civic action against threats to the unity, peace and security of the Nigerian state.
“Therefore, we give notice to all political parties that we will protect the religious diversity of the Nigerian state and will mobilize politically against any political party that sows the seed of religious conflict by presenting to Nigeria a presidential ticket that is Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian.
“We will consider such action as a declaration of war against the freedom of religion, the peace and security of the Nigerian state. We will consider such insensitive action as evidence of a deliberate action to plunge the country further into religious violence and extremism and destroy the foundations of the continuation of the Nigerian state.
“As the presidential candidates prepare to nominate their running mates, we sound the note of warning, through this letter, that only a diversified presidential ticket will be acceptable to Nigeria in line with the constitutional requirement of power sharing and the responsibility of sensitivity to Nigeria’s deep religious diversity.
“We pray that God will give the political elites the wisdom to seek peace and prosperity for the mistreated citizens of Nigeria and avoid the path of provocations that lead to violent conflict. May God guide our leaders to become statesmen and women who are dedicated to the promotion of the common good and not the mindless pursuit of destructive selfishness.”