ELECTION 2023: MPAC Recommendations and Guidelines
14 Jumada I 1444 AH, 8th December, 2022
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
For a number of years now, the Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) has advocated that the Nigerian Muslim community must take its vote seriously as a means, in a free and fair electoral process, to contribute to the emergence of responsive and ethical leaders that will consolidate on the meagre gains of democracy in the recent past, and lift our nation out of its present woes and miseries. The first set of responsibilities of visionary political leaders are to provide security of lives and properties and relentlessly pursue the prosperity of the country, with the welfare of the citizens.
It is worth noting that the Muslim community has the potential to influence the outcome of elections in most constituencies through their vote alone, and much better when coordinated with other stakeholders of their respective local constituencies. Seeing our votes as Amanah (trust) and a means to effect lasting positive changes in our society for the benefit of all, we urge Nigerian Muslims to vote according to their conscience and elect God-fearing leaders based only on the candidates’ character, track records and competencies. We urge assessment of candidates – Muslim and non-Muslim – based on the candidates’ worth and his/her knowledge, disposition and action plans on the issues that are of concern and importance to the community and the society.
Further to this, we urge mosques and Muslim organisations in particular to seek face-to-face interactions with political candidates, decision-makers and figures of authority to discuss specific issues confronting the society, e.g. widespread insecurity, threat of terrorism, unemployment, poverty, etc. and the specific issues we are dealing with in the Muslim community. Our nation is besieged with challenges of epic proportion, and such meetings with influential public figures and electable candidates should also provide opportunities for Muslim leaders and organisations to present excellent ideas to frame and shape an adequate narrative on the visions and strategies to accelerate the vision of a secure and prosperous Nigeria. A firm commitment to usher in new promises and opportunities for all citizens, and secure inalienable rights for all Nigerians – foremost of which is the right to life.
Also, Muslim leaders should (continue to) hold elected officials, political candidates and public officials accountable and demand their commitment on vital issues that affect our community – such as Islamophobia, religious discrimination, the killing of Muslims and their persecution especially in the South-Southern and South-Eastern regions, etc. Muslim kids had suffered in some public schools due to the use of hijab and a number of Islamophobia strongholds are still bent on excluding female Muslim students who choose to observe the hijab; a number of Muslim Youth Corpers and workers remain targeted and continue to suffer from open harassment and prejudice. These societal ills, and the media silence that mostly accompany them, have naturally led to the rise in Islamophobic practices to the level of absurdity and is set to climb even further.
Unless the government adopts a clear policy, which protects those targeted and secures constitutional rights to protect against direct and indirect discrimination, the trend will only get worse. Discharging our civil responsibility conscientiously will enable us to contribute to building a system that values all Nigerians equally, places no price tag on being a Muslim and serves justice to all without any hindrance.
Following are the issues we believe are of vital importance to consider for candidate suitability:
MPAC urges Muslim voters to assess candidates, regardless of party affiliation, tribe, religion or slogans, by considering the main issues which affect Nigerians and reflect our national interests.
Nigerian Muslims share common concerns, needs and aspirations of our fellow citizens. Concerns about education, health, security, quick and easy access to justice, national prosperity, and above all God consciousness, are common to us all. As a result of lengthy and thorough consideration, MPAC proposes that the main issues of concern for the forthcoming election should be as follows:
o Security & Terrorism
o 21st-Century Education Policy
o Sustainable livelihood
o Discrimination & Islamophobia
o Youth Development and Empowerment
o Human Rights and Social Justice & Equality (including religious strives and conflicts)
o Minority Rights
o Housing, Electricity & other infrastructures.
o Poverty & Low Income
o Media & Culture
o Foreign Policy/International Affairs
PRODUCING WORTHY LEADERS: GUIDELINES
Candidates’ track records and political parties’ manifesto must set out a clear understanding of important issues, and define the roadmap to bring about measurable improvements and needed changes. There is no shortcut to overcoming the predicament that has been piling on us; there is also no shortcut to achieving easy gains in this highly competitive and merit-based world. At this election, we must commit to working hard to elect exemplary social leaders who, through their love for people and social competence, would be able to bring a sea change in our communities and the wider society. Only leaders who are physically and emotionally attached to people around them would be able to build on the strengths they have and work selflessly to turn our current challenges into opportunities.
As Muslims, we must think deeply about identifying who our allies are and work credibly with others to build a great nation. Our search together must be for leaders that have excelled in knowledge, skills and character. Our introspection, duties and dealings with others should be built on the deepest love that emanates from Allah. Muslim thought and opinion leaders, scholars, Imams and community leaders must increase the quality and frequency of awareness campaigns on the duty of voting responsibly, and teach the concept of the exercise as a TRUST that must not be squandered; a trust to bring about lasting positive changes, God willing, for our own benefits and that of the coming generations.
MPAC looks forward to a peaceful election where Muslims will turn out in numbers and influence the outcome of Election 2023 in a positive and constructive manner and in an effort to bring about what is best for their community, local constituency and our country.
In the 2023 elections, the Nigerian people and our politicians especially have a heavy responsibility to be God-fearing and not to go down the well-trodden but self-destructive road of sectarian or political violence. We wish them all well in their pursuits and political careers.
MPAC is an incorporated public service agency working for Muslim Defence, and Muslim Empowerment and for promoting individual liberties, and religious, civil and political rights of Muslims. MPAC is equally devoted to promoting the integration of Islam into the Nigerian pluralism, for a positive and constructive relationship between Nigerian Muslims and other elements in the society; building the Nigerian Muslim constituency to become an influential component in the Nigerian politics, at all levels of policy-making arena; and making Islamic ethical values available to the Nigerian political process. As a non-partisan, experienced and independent voice within the Nigerian Muslim community working for the good of the society, MPAC operates on the core Islamic values of justice, mercy, human dignity, freedom, sanctity of human life and equality for all.
The Muslim Public Affairs Centre, MPAC, Nigeria
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