By Sani Danaudi Mohammed
It is common knowledge that Nigeria is a multi-ethnic nation.Culturally diverse and ethnically heterogeneous, boasting of an estimated number of over 400 spoken languages and over 350 ethnic nationalities. Since the return of democracy in 1999, the Plateau North Senatorial Zone has been a victim of leadership inefficiencies which have been attributed to politics of religion and tribal narratives.
Given this scenario,integrating all these ethnic cleavages has been a tasking effort.Hence, the national slogan, ‘Unity in diversity’ appears a mirage in Nigeria, as all the ethnic constituents of the country could not describe first identify themselves with their tribes or religion before their own country.The forthcoming Plateau North Senatorial re-run elections has offer the electorates an opportunity to make use of this their votes to change this ugly narratives.
Plateau State in its entirety is a land of great diversity, history, civilization and peaceful coexistence with Islam and Christianity continue to play critical roles in elections. These religious sects lives together peacefully and in a harmony for decades for hundreds years until the return of democracy.They exist as a meeting place between Christianity and Islam for countless number of years through established bones of friendships beyond emotions and political affiliations.
Consequently, the appeal court judgement has given an opportunity to Muhammad Shafiu Yakub Sahlan of NNPP, Simon Madkwon of PDP, Suleiman Kwande of PRP and Gyang Zi of LP to contest again.Although,there are unverified sources that axed Simon Madkwon out of the race even though only time can substantiates.The above-mentioned are considered the frontline candidates and one will definitely emerge in the end.Already,Simon Madkwon and Suleiman Kwande were both former members of the Federal House of Representatives, Barkin Ladi/ Riyom and Bassa/Jos North respectively. Madkwon was the Senator Representing Plateau North Senatorial district before the recent appeal court judgement.
The focus will now be Muhammad Shafi’u Yakub Sahlan of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) and Gyang Zi of the Labour party,they are both considered the fresh hands in this race and unless otherwise one will carry the day. The reasons are not far from the fact that, Madkwon and Kwande had the fortune to served in the national Assembly but with little or nothing to show as a documentary of their stewardship.The Plateau North Senatorial district is currently undergoing drastic political,economic and social changes.
The Youths and the women who Constitutes the highest political strength are demanding an outlet for open means of communication, cooperation,sharing experiences and building a common history.The forthcoming Plateau Senatorial elections offer an opportunity to the electorates to eschew their political and religious differences to focus on the candidate that has the capacity to change their fortunes in the nearest Future.
The Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN) and the Council of Ulama’u need to reflect on the current demands of the young Nigerians to come up with a decision that will ensure the success story of the Senatorial district.It is very important that,for the first time,the political narratives of the zone is change for good by given both the candidates a fair hearing to lay the foundation of rebuilding a strong network of the Prosperous Plateau.
Should Council of Ulama Endorse candidates for elections?
Nigeria Council of Ulama is the umbrella body of Islamic Clerics in Nigeria and one of the respected decision making body that are respected by greater percentage of the Muslim faithfuls.To me, endorsing political candidates base on certain considerations that is of the overall interest of peace and stability of Nigeria is a welcome development.It is unfortunate that ,these endorsements sometimes comes with great concerns and instead of healing the problems,it leaves behind wounds of divisions.
During the just concluded 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections,there was serious misconceptions regarding the aforementioned.One that caught the attention of thousands of eligible voters was the endorsement of Suleiman Yahaya Kwande of PRP by the Nigerian council of Ulama Jos Branch for Plateau North Senatorial elections.The concerns was that,Since Sahlan contested the primary election of Jos North-North Constituency and enjoys the popular support of the voters should have been endorsed instead.Those with this opinion hold the view that,As MD/CEO of Sahlan College of Health Technology Jos,one of the best and leading private institutions in the country would have stand a better chance of winning the popular votes.
It is another round of elections,we are calling on them to do the needful to salvage the Muslim Communities that have been kept far away from good Governance in the zone and the entire State despite their chunked of population.The lamentations continue as electorates share their views that, Nigerian council of Ulama Jos Branch should subject the candidates to scrutiny and give each a fair hearing.These opinions,discussions and the one on one interface with both Sahlan and Kwande will assist in arriving at a logical conclusion.
The Muslim Communities for decades have been gunning for the Senate in the Plateau North with no success.This is because, successive candidates lack completely the political network and reach outside their immediate community,the reason why calls are been intensify on Muhammad Shafi’u Yakub Sahlan ,it is because,only him enjoys the support from Jos North,Jos South, Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bassa and Jos East Local Governments.No one can win election on ground of his tribe and religion only without shooting in distance his political network to other political terrain,odds that seen to favor Sahlan against his contemporaries.
The fact that Suleiman Kwande was a former member Representing Bassa/Jos North Federal Constituency for two consecutive terms,his presence at the grassroots is still minimal.Sahlan seem to be more popular and deep rooted,it may be because of the hundreds of sons and daughters of Plateau North Senatorial district on his payroll.Beyond the elections,all politicians have a duty to ease the elevated inter-ethnic, inter-religious and inter-party tensions.Party figures,traditional and religious leaders should turn down their heated rhetoric and especially avoid ethnic slurs and other hate speech.
The late Maitama Sule (Dan Masanin Kano), Once said in his glorious days that,The world itself can never be governed by force or by fear nor by power; in the end, what governs is the mind, what conquers is the spirit and what governs the mind and spirit are justice and fair play.Therefore, Long as the Nigeria council of Ulama Jos Branch want to present candidate that will be acceptable to all and sundry beyond political and religion divides,then the popular views of the people should be their guide. Simon Madkwon may likely return to the ballot according insinuations, Gyang Zi is much strong to slot it both Sahlan and Kwande in the re-run elections.
To round off, I call on the Nigeria Council of Ulama to widen it consultations and equally expand their reach by soliciting support of it sister organization like the Christian Association of Nigeria CAN.In sum, the views of different electorates that made up the Plateau North Senatorial Zone expressed in the foregoing have proved beyond any reasonable doubt that,it is not about religion,tribe nor ethnicity.It is about presenting the right person for Plateau North Senatorial Zone who will in turn foster Peace,Unity and stability among the citizenry.Sahlan has a clear trajectory of winning the next elections having invested in numerous areas to the peaceful coexistence of the zone where equality, justice and fairness prevailed.
Danaudi, Public Affairs Analyst and Columnist writes from Bauchi via email@example.com.