Friday, March 8, 2019

Inside the Politics of Religious Denomination in Nigeria's Southeast

From Nigeria-

All politics, as the political cliché goes, is local. Politicians, in an attempt to woo voters, strive to strike a chord in their hearts. They invoke, and at times, invent social, cultural and even religious similarities between themselves and the voters and then spin convincing tales that can earn them votes.

This strategy, which is some sort of homophily-identifying with people of like minds, worked well for President Donald Trump during the last presidential elections in the United States. He knew his target audience- the ultra-conservative white supremacists, who believed that the problem of the US started and ended with immigration. Mr Trump identified with their aversion to immigration and with a we-are-all-in-this-hole-together kind of rhetoric, he won the election.

Back home in Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari understood this strategy--and it has worked for him. Mr Buhari started working on the strategy since 1999 when he led a team from the Arewa Consultative Forum to the Oyo State Governor's Office, Ibadan, to challenge the government on the perceived unfair treatment meted to the Fulani in the state. It was reported that he asked the then Governor Lam Adesina: 'Why are your people killing my people'? Mr Buhari was later to make many other pro-North - interventions. This, overtime, endeared him to the average northerner who saw him as someone who would always protect their interest. Competence, unfortunately, was secondary.

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