By Demola Atobaba
The immediate-past governor of Ekiti State, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of stoking ethno-religious tension in Nigeria for political gains ahead of the 2015 elections.
Speaking in Lagos, Dr. Fayemi said the president and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are deliberately encouraging sentiments that divide Nigerians along ethnic and religious lines, as a political strategy ahead of next year’s crucial polls.
He said Jonathan “stage-manages” visits to influential religious leaders to exploit their popularity for his political gain.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that one of the do-or-die strategies of the ruling party to retain power in 2015 is to compensate for poor performance in office by stoking ethno-religious sentiments and pushing the country to the brink of crisis,” Dr. Fayemi said at GLEEHD Foundation’s Election ThinkTank Series in Lagos.
“This can be deciphered from the ethnic jingoists who brazenly threaten fire and brimstone if President Jonathan is not returned in 2015, as well as the predilection of our president to stage-manage visits to influential spiritual leaders and exploit their goodwill to masquerade as the anointed candidate of people of a particular faith,” the former governor said.
Fayemi also lambasted the federal government’s “feeble response” to the insurgency in the North-East, and wondered why the same government deployed huge number of troops to militarise elections in his state.
Fayemi canvassed support for any presidential candidate with the most convincing manifesto for achieving sustainable peace.
According to him: “There is no gainsaying that we are going into the 2015 elections a deeply divided people, with the elections itself being a potential source of further polarisation.
“It is (for) this reason that has seen increased advocacy particularly by renowned civil society actors to force ‘peace and national cohesion’ to the top of the agenda as the single most important factor in determining who the next president of Nigeria should be.”
The former governor described Nigerians as a religious society difficult to comprehend.
“This is a reality that we can all affirm anecdotally but which is absolutely empirically verifiable.
“Consider some facts and figures. There are more Anglicans in Nigeria than there are in England, the denomination’s mother country, or anywhere else in the world.
“The largest Roman Catholic seminary in the world is the Bigard Memorial in Enugu, which has about 1,000 students – five times the number enrolled in the largest U.S. Catholic seminary. No other seminary matches this prodigious intake.
“The Living Faith Church possesses the largest church auditorium in the world, the 50,400-seat Faith Tabernacle in Lagos.
“The Deeper Life Bible Church’s headquarters congregation in Lagos had 150,000 members as at
2004 and had planted more than 6,000 branches across Nigeria. In Nigeria alone, the Redeemed Christian Church of God claims 14,000 branches with 5 million members.”
Dr. Fayemi said that despite Nigeria’s potential emergence as a hub for global Christianity, the nation still suffers from endemic corruption.