A former presidential aspirant and a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, on Wednesday warned that Nigerians including opinion moulders should not allow religion to further divide the country.
He was reacting to the controversies surrounding the choice by the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, of Kashim Shettima as his running mate for the 2023 elections.
Olawepo-Hashim, a presidential candidate of the Trust Party in the 2019 elections, issued the warning in a statement titled: ‘2023: No need to divide the country over religion, insensitive politicians would be punished.’
According to him, the political aspiration of anybody does not worth the disruption of the unity and peace of Nigeria.
He said, “While we all have the right to express ourselves, we should avoid incendiary comments that can further pose huge challenge to our national integration objectives. Let us quietly make our decisions and express such decisions with our votes.”
Olawepo-Hashim added that political parties who were “insensitive to the national concerns and take some segments of the population for granted must be ready to be punished by the electorates at the polls. That is democracy, there is no need for quarrel.”
He maintained that every party must work hard towards the general election to ensure that they were in good reckoning with the electorate at the polls, adding that “those who have bought delegates must know they will have an uphill task buying estimated 40 million potential voters who may turn out at the next election.”
Olawepo-Hashim cited statistics from the Independent National Electoral Commission, which stipulated that as of 2019, there were 84 million registered voters, while as at Monday June 27, 2022, the ongoing registration figures were as follows: Fresh registrants: 10,487,972; completed registration: 8,631,696; male: 4,292,690; female: 4,339,006; People With Disabilities: 67,171 and youths: 6,081,456.
He said, “Anyone, who loves his or her party, and loves Nigeria must ensure that their parties do the right things.
“Buying up delegates at the party conventions is the cheapest thing to do, the general election is a different ball game. National Security is at stake, not just anything will pass.”
The APC chieftain also called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to live up to his promise that the next election would be free and fair, adding that “it is time for our elections to be the true measurement of the will of our people, that is the only way to make democracy deliver result.”
“All of us must come to terms with the fact that this is going to be an electronic transmission of results from the polling unit and scope for manipulation is limited,” he emphasised.