NIGERIA: A Religious Dilemma

BY EBENEZER OBADARE It is not unusual that religion is getting all the attention as next year’s presidential election in Nigeria draws closer. For better or for worse, Nigerians take religion very seriously, and the often unpredictable interaction of religion and ethnicity is a key element of political contestation in the country. Yet, if the role of religion was totally predictable, that Nigerian Christians feel that they have been backed into a situation where they must seriously consider voting for a presidential candidate solely on grounds of faith, seems something of a novelty. The backdrop to this is the decision of Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential standard bearer to choose a northern Muslim, former Governor of Borno State Kashim Shettima, as his running mate. For Tinubu, a Yoruba Muslim, the imperatives of ethnoregional balancing in Nigeria should have dictated the selection of a Christian (or at least non-Muslim) northerner. Yet, such is the we

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