Last Saturday, a symbolic religious ceremony took place at St. Peter Basilica in the Vatican. The Pope inaugurated 20 new Cardinals including Peter Okpaleke, the Catholic Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese. Cardinal Peter Okpaleke, whose episcopal journey has been fraught with bumps and controversies following his rejection by the Ahiara Catholic Diocese of Mbaise in Imo State and subsequent redeployment to Ekwulobia Diocese was elevated as a Cardinal of the Catholic Church – the fifth Nigerian to be appointed a Cardinal.
However, what should ordinarily be a purely religious ceremony was turned into a ground for a political roll call. Politicians especially from Anambra State tried to outdo one another to register their presence at the ceremony. Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State and his wife led a powerful delegation from the state to witness the inauguration (fully paid for by the taxpayers).
Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, Sen. Uche Ekwunife, Hon. Chris Azubogu, Anambra State House of Assembly Speaker and many other candidates seeking elections into various positions on the platform of the PDP, Labour Party and APGA were all seen jostling for photo ops with His Eminence, Cardinal Peter Okpaleke not for its face value but for their political spectators back home in Nigeria. They were essentially on a political Pilgrimage to the Vatican!
The increasing religionisation of politics is very unnecessary and further diluting the quality of a political contest however, it seems some politicians, in their desperate quest to grab power, are willing to do anything just to achieve their aim. Issues no longer matter but pandering to religious considerations in order to garner bulk votes from the religious constituency.
It is therefore not surprising to see that churches now have turned into a political stomping ground with politicians attending all manner of church programmes during election seasons, which they wouldn’t have attended at other times. Anambra is leading other states in this regard with Mr. Peter Obi the major culprit that all but institutionalised this practice in the State during his time as Governor with his religious divide and rule approach.
Another very dangerous trajectory some opposition politicians are driving us into is the weaponisation of the social media mob and pandering to their mostly fake news-induced anger just to grab power. They say what the social media mob wants to hear, they throw around misleading information and statistics to increase their disillusionment. This we cannot allow to become the norm.
The opposition politicians patronising the social media mob largely populated by young people from mostly the southern part of the country must not create a monster they cannot tame by allowing the mob who are known to bully anything and everything they set their eyes on to be the ones controlling the narrative in governance and politics, that is a recipe for disaster.