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ABUJA, Nigeria (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic Nigerian businessman is giving the top contenders for Nigeria's presidency a run for their money.
According to recent reports from both Reuters and Aljazeera, Labour Party candidate Peter Obi is unexpectedly in the lead.
Reuters lays out the field of candidates: "Former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) faces Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi, a wild-card candidate who defected from the PDP to the smaller Labour Party and now leads in at least five opinion polls."
Obi is a lifelong Catholic, while both Tinubu and Abubakar are Muslim. Tinubu is from the primarily Christian south; Abubakar is from the Muslim-dominated north.
Some are painting the Feb. 25 election as a religious battle. In the past, the two parties paired a Muslim and a Christian, with the top of the ticket rotating between the two.
Tinubu's All Progressive Congress abandoned that tradition for this election cycle with a two-Muslim ticket. But more than that, Islamic leaders held a special conference in January with representatives from more than 75 organizations gathering to pray for Tinubu's all-Muslim ticket.
Sahara Reporters quoted one of the event organizers, Nigerian Islamic preacher Abdulmutallab Mohammed Auwal:
The import of today's sitting is to let the clerics and indeed all Muslim leaders know that the Muslim/Muslim ticket is not about mere promises of bringing dividends of democracy like road and infrastructure. This ticket is about the supremacy of Islam. This ticket has honoured Islam. Therefore, we'll honour it with our ballots.
Auwal went on to claim that "the ticket is a jihad call to all Muslims."
There is a belief in some quarters that the violence against Catholics and all Christians is religiously motivated.
SB Morgan Intelligence is reporting that "no fewer than 39 priests were killed by gunmen, while 30 others were abducted in 2022, alone."
In its late January report titled "Attacks on Priests," SB Morgan Intelligence does not downplay the violence but suggests it is not religiously motivated; it's about money.
"The attacks on religious leaders, indicates that the terrorists are resorting to soft targets, as part of their very lucrative kidnap-for-ransom business which the federal government has demonstrated incapacity to address across the country," the report claims.
This fits with testimony taken at a U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom hearing in which experts testified that violence in Nigeria is more about marauding gangs on land and pirates at sea taking full advantage of a government incapable of effectively getting the violence under control.
Meanwhile, Aljazeera is saying that Catholic Obi has captured the imagination of young people who don't distinguish between Muslim and Christian. They want a new generation of leadership, and they believe Obi can deliver a brighter future for Nigeria.
Aljazeera's recent news report applauds the successful businessman who travels without an entourage, carries his own briefcase and boards a plane in the queue with everyone else.
Obi made his money in banking but is also an experienced politician who had a successful seven-year run as governor of Anambra in southern Nigeria.
On Wednesday, he told his Twitter followers, "These are my thoughts. This coming Saturday [election day] let us promote the Family Value by voting for the Labour party—LP: Mama, Papa, Pikin [child]."
On behalf of all our dedicated team, I promise to deliver on all core values.— Peter Obi (@PeterObi) February 22, 2023
These are my thoughts. This coming Saturday, let us promote the Family Value - by voting for the Labour Party—LP: Mama, Papa, and Pikin.
Ten million new voters have registered for this election, and 84% of them are under 34.
Voter turnout is expected to be high, and because of rules related to the election of the Nigerian president, so is a second round of voting.
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