A former presidential aspirant and chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has called on politicians and major political parties to desist from ethnic and religious tantrums.
According to him, the advice became necessary as the campaign for the 2023 elections had begun to generate political velocity.
Olawepo-Hashim, the presidential candidate of the Trust Party in the 2019 election, issued the warning in a statement he issued in Abuja on Tuesday.
He maintained that instead of focusing on plans to transform the economy and programmes to achieve social and political development, national security, and unity, candidates and campaign organisation of major political parties were complicating Nigeria’s ethnic and religious tensions in their efforts to win votes in 2023.
Olawepo-Hashim said most of the campaigners were churning out messages with ethnic and religious nuances, adding, “Our polity has never descended this low since our independence as a nation, and since our return to democratic rule in 1999.”
He recalled that in the First and Second Republics, the political parties were identified and known by their plans, programmes, and principles, unlike the present situation where contestants “are busy talking about tribe, creed, and crowd they can parade on the streets.”
“It is time for the leaders of the various political parties to check the activities of their campaigns where their messages seem to undermine our national unity. The Independent National Electoral Commission, National Orientation Agency, and other relevant state institutions must step up their games,” he stated.
He said that serious-minded Nigerians were interested in how to get Nigeria back to a major play in the remaining short time of fossil fuel as a dominant energy source and how to resolve the debt to revenue crises immediately.
Olawepo-Hashim also called on politicians to focus on “the fiscal plan to tame cost pushed inflation; high unemployment rate; insecurity and burgeoning poverty pandemic.”
“The 2023 general election is very crucial for our country, as Nigeria is today confronted by a myriad of problems: there is a serious crisis in the social sector like education and health. Despite repeated promises by succeeding governments, corruption is still pervasive. The majority of our young people are jobless and losing hope,” he said.
He also said that corruption, for instance, has become one of the major reasons for the slow progress and the underbelly of some security problems, such as banditry and kidnappings.
Olawepo-Hashim concluded, “Nigeria deserves a future that is not defined by a fiendish manipulation of her notable fault lines but by developmental ideas, character, record and patriotic principles.”