James Sowole in Akure
The battle for the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State took a religious dimension at the weekend when Muslims in the state, under the aegis of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) vowed not to settle for anything less than balanced gubernatorial ticket between the two main religions.
The Muslims, who decried marginalisation in the state politics over the years at a press conference monday declared that “any political party that flies anything less than a balanced ticket may regret it’s decision.”
The state chairman of the council, Habibullah Akinpelumi, who led some groups of Islamic scholars and societies to address a conference in Akure yesterday, said more than 1.5 million Muslims with over 500,000 eligible voters are victims of political marginalization in the state.
The cleric lamented that since the creation of the state 40 years ago, despite the difference in religion, the Muslims have sacrificed all they had to support the government even when an evangelist became the state governor; but with nothing to show for their loyalty.
“Today, the Muslim community as a whole can only account for less than two per cent of the engine room that drives the project called Ondo State. Muslims have been politically eliminated from the driving force of the state.”
Akinpelumi lamented that none of their members has ever been appointed as the Chief Judge, Head of Service, Chairman of relevant parastatals and the governor of the state, despite their qualifications.
He lamented: “The political gladiators have made it impossible for a Muslim to emerge not to talk of contesting for governorship.
“They have always denied the Muslims juicy political post not for wants of competency but because of their religious inclination. They have made it a law that a Muslim cannot rule this state that we all claim to own together,” he said
The NSCIA chairman said their grievances had been addressed to the political parties in the state stating that they had pledged to vehemently deliver votes for any political party which considers their agitation ahead of the November 26 governorship election.
“We are saying with more than 1.5 million Muslims in our dear state and with over 500,000 voting power, Muslims are poised politically with a strong vigor to determine who the next governor of the state would be.”
The Islamic council warned that any political arrangement short of balanced ticket would be rejected, emphasizing that they would ensure such party candidate loses the governorship election.
“We will dare any political party that will produce a Christian-Christian ticket. We will aggressively mobilise the consolidated Muslim Ummah: we will not accept anything less than a balanced ticket,” he said.