The All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of using religion as a trump card in the build up to the 2015 elections, warning that even in its desperation to cling to power at all cost, the ruling party must desist from fanning the embers of religion.
The party said the reason it had refrained from joining issues with the PDP, despite its sponsored campaign to portray the APC as an ”Islamic” party, is because it (APC) knows the dangers that religious politics portends for any nation that brings religion into politics, and that no nation which has descended into religious warfare has survived intact.
An Islamic cleric and a group under the aegis of Religious Equity Promotion Council (REPC) had accused the APC of championing an Islamic agenda in Nigeria just like the Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, explaining that that was why all the members of the Interim Executive Committee of the party are Muslims.
In a statement issued yesterday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it was neither logical nor rational to accuse a party whose 35 interim officials were almost equally split between the adherents of the two major religions (18 Muslims and 17 Christians) of religious bias.
”This irresponsible accusation by the PDP that the APC is dividing Nigerians along religious line is a new low even for a party that stands for nothing but incompetence, looting and election rigging. It is an indication that the desperadoes in the PDP will throw everything, including the kitchen sink, into their campaign to stop the wave of change blowing across Nigeria,” the party said.
The party called for a clean electioneering campaign that would focus on issues that were relevant to the well-being of the long-suffering people of Nigeria.
”No party wishing to lead Nigeria aright can do so on the basis of religion or ethnicity. Therefore, we are compelled to warn the PDP not to play what it believes to be its trump card, the religious card, against the APC, because whatever politicians do, they must refrain from ethnic or religious politics and put their country above selfish considerations.
“Only an irresponsible party will play the religious card for any reason,” APC said. It said even when the PDP’s top leader, President Goodluck Jonathan, decided to wear religion on his sleeve, kneeling down before respectable religious leaders and pushing the pictures into the media in an apparent ploy to score political gains, the APC refrained from making any comments on it.
APC recalled that when President Jonathan also decided to lead a bloated delegation of his cabinet to an extended pilgrimage in Israel and ferret to the media back home the pictures of the delegation members at the Wailing Wall and other religious landmarks, the APC did not make an issue of the glaring exhibitionism.
The party said it was neither logical nor rational to accuse a party whose 35 interim officials are almost equally split between the adherents of the two major religions (18 Muslims and 17 Christians) and cuts across all ethnic lines; a party whose elected officials – governors, senators, House of Representatives members among others – profess various faiths and a party that had never expressed any preference for one religion over another as an ”Islamic” party.
”We are, therefore, warning the PDP to stop this dangerous campaign forthwith, unless of course it has decided that its interest supersedes that of the nation.
It called for a clean electioneering campaign that focuses on issues that are relevant to the well-being of the long-suffering people of Nigeria and issues that are edifying for the country, saying Nigerians want to know, for example, how the present situation of hopelessness can be turned around, how corruption can be stamped out; how a 24-hour electricity supply will be achieved just like in most countries of the world; how our teeming unemployed youths will be gainfully employed and how our dilapidated infrastructure will be rebuilt.
”On our part, we are focused on issues that will lift the living standard of Nigerians and make our country great again, and these we have enunciated in our manifesto which is accessible on our website.
”For now, we ask anyone who needs to be convinced of our capability to visit any of the states under our control and see how we are utilising the scarce resources at our disposal for quality-of-life initiatives that are serving the people well,” APC said.
But not convinced about the claims of the APC on the faith of its interim members, the PDP has challenged the APC to be bold enough to publish the list of its 35 interim officials and state their offices.
PDP reiterated its belief that the APC was promoting religious divisions.
The ruling party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, yesterday said: “it is shocking that the APC would attempt to hoodwink Nigerians even in the face of incontrovertible facts exposing its religious inclinations and plots to divide the nation along religious lines.”
The PDP said contrary to the denials posted by the APC in a hollow statement, “the revelations by an Islamic cleric, Ambassador Yusuf Garba and the REPC that APC seeks to impose an agenda like the Egypt Muslim Brotherhood remains a fact that cannot be brushed aside.”
The party reiterated that it “remains committed to the interest of all Nigerians irrespective of religious, tribal, ethnic or regional affiliations.”