In hoping to make an electoral gain out of religion, the promoters of President Goodluck Jonathan candidacy in the 2015 elections have already made religion an issue. Unfortunately in hoping to make religion an issue in 2015 elections, the PDP and defenders of President Jonathan’s candidacy did not rely on the social and moral teachings of religions. This may be understandable because President Jonathan’s presidency is a negation of the great moral and social teachings of the big religions.
Rather, by simply but wrongly branding APC an “Islamic” party without any rational justification and by wrongly naming Mr. Buhari a “Muslim fanatic” without any rational basis or rational evidence the PDP and President Jonathan’s campaign team shot themselves in the feet by making religion an issue for the wrong reason.
Wrongly calling Mr. Buhari a “Muslim fanatic” just because he is a Muslim is analogous to calling President Jonathan a “Christian fanatic” just because he is a Christian. Wrong as this is, there are other compelling reasons why President Jonathan can be said to be a bad Christian having failed to live up to the basic tenets of Christian ethics and Christian social and moral teaching. For example, it is a bad Christian that will defend corruption on the ground that stealing of government resources is not corruption as President Jonathan has done.
But the wrong reason for which the promoters of President Jonathan candidacy in the 2015 elections have made religion an issue is the division of Nigerian voters into “Christian” Vs “Muslim” outside the great social and moral teachings of religions, which if examined closely have more common grounds than differences.
This is why the views of Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka on the 2015 elections are poignant. Reverend Ejike is a Catholic priest. Father Mbaka, who heads the popular Catholic Adoration Centre in Enugu, said in his New Year sermon titled “From Good luck to Bad luck,” that President Jonathan should step down for Mr. Buhari or that Nigerian voters should vote for Buhari and vote out Jonathan.
Rev Mbaka rests his position on security and ethics. The security issue concerns Boko Haram and Niger Delta terrorisms. The question of ethics concerns corruption.
These are Rev Mbaka’s words: “I love President Goodluck Jonathan and I used to be his ardent fan, but I want good for my people and that’s why I want Nigerians to vote out Goodluck Jonathan and vote General Muhammad Buhari. I don’t care if Buhari is a Muslim and from the North; all I care about is that Buhari can save Nigeria.”
Reverend Mbaka mentioned “good” which he wants for his people. Though he did not preface “good” with public, we can assume that what he wanted for his people can be understood as “public good” or “social good”. I think this is the best way to see the 2015 elections such that the main issue in the 2015 elections should be who between the two candidates can offer the Nigerian people the greatest public and social good.
Talking about social and public good, Rev Mbaka made reference to corruption under President Jonathan. He also mentioned the unaccounted for $20b under the President’s and Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke’s watch. The corruption in the oil industry has been established by the Petroleum Task Force headed by Mr. Nuhu Ribadu who belongs to the same party as Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke and President Jonathan. President Jonathan collected this report and froze it. This cannot be said to be an example of Christian ethics or Christian social and moral teaching.
Yet the expose of the Ribadu task Force is just a tip of the iceberg of the corruption under President Jonathan’s watch which Rev Mbaka gestured to as a negation of the moral and social teachings of Christianity.
What Rev Mbaka is correctly gesturing at by these references is that the moral and social teachings of Christianity are against corruption. This is one reason I had always thought that the PDP and President Jonathan’s promoters such as Fani Kayode, Femi Aribisala, and his faceless online campaigners shot themselves in the feet by making religion an issue in the 2015 elections.
This is because, ordinarily, to correctly make religion an issue is to turn to the great moral and social teachings of religions. More importantly, the incorruptible Body of Christ is radically and fundamentally against corruption and its instantiation in stealing. This is one reason Jesus Christ himself drove away the thieves and corrupt tax collectors from his fathers house (Mark Chapter 11, Verse 15-17, Mathew 21, Verse 12).
The religious argument in nation building is the weakest point of President Jonathan. Hence President Jonathan promoters took a poor gamble by opting for this tactical choice. Moreover, for the enlightened voters, it is going to be extremely difficult to reconcile the insane corruption under President Jonathan with the social and moral teachings of the Christian faith.
So, Reverend Mbaka has raised very serious issue about the social teaching of Christianity with respect to the 2015 elections. The main core of Christian social teaching lies in the consequences of the incorruptible Body of Christ. The social consequences of the incorruptible Body of Christ is that it places the social conditions of the poor, the weak and the most vulnerable in society at the heart of Christian social and moral teaching.
Sadly, because of the sickening and insane corruption under President Jonathan’s watch the social conditions of the poor and the most vulnerable in our society has worsened such that the poor have been turned into beggars, blackmailed and humiliated as in the shameless example of what Governor Fayose of Ekiti state promotes as Stomach Infrastructure –a practice whereby the economically vulnerable among us are bought with bags of rice, ororo, kerosene strategically during election period. The poor fall for this because in the first place they have been impoverished and pauperized by the insane corruption under President Jonathan’s watch
In openly promoting the virtues of the social teaching of Christian faith, Reverend Mbaka has raised the moral bar. A Christian priest-Rev Mbaka- who is not on the campaign trail has come out openly to correctly define what the 2015 election should be about-Ethics and Security. Nigerian voters must pick the challenge and restore the dignity of Nigerians home and abroad.
Adeolu Ademoyo firstname.lastname@example.org Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.