Nigeria has finally lurched into its seasons of laughs and what a barrel the country is having as charlatans, clowns and illusionists finally arrive town to take up roles in the elaborate circus that is fast unfolding.
But given the gravity of the illness of the Giant of Africa, the laughter coming from the throats of many Nigerians is strained at best.
A nest of snakes
In 2015, the precision propaganda of the then-opposition All Progressives Congress copulated with the deep-seated grievances of Nigerians against a Peoples Democratic Party-led government that was failing the basics.
The child of that furious mating was an unprecedent defeat, as cold as the shoulders the then government gave Nigerians when critical concerns were raised. Many of them were caught cold.
However, hope soon turned to horror when shortly after it assumed office, the APC-led government showed that it was no different from the party it had deposed and called every possible unprintable name as is careened to power.
The fact that the patience of Nigerians who are famous for their fortitude snapped within the first year alone bore testament to the fact that the APC-led government was as bad as they came.
Yet, the benefit of doubt stretched for four more years.In 2019, the mandate of the APC-led government was renewed at a terrible cost to Nigeria.
Meanwhile, in the same 2019, in Kaduna State, easily one of Nigeria`s most iconic states, the governor, Mr. Nasir El-rufai chose to play a religious card as he ran for a second term in office.
Ditching an age-long tradition that had always seen power shared between Christians and Muslims so as to check religious tension in a state with a history of religious tension, Mr. El-rufai picked a Muslim running mate. He won the election in 2019, but the cost, especially on the Christian-dominated Southern Kaduna region has been extortionate. Most horribly, the cost has been extracted in blood.
As controversy swirled whether Bola Ahmed Tinubu who emerged as the APC presidential candidate would go for a Muslim running mate, or pick a Christian for balance, Mr. El-rufai cited the egregious Kaduna experiment as an example. It was duly adopted by the ruling APC when Mr. Kashim Shettima was picked as running mate to Mr. Tinubu.
Whatever confidence the APC nursed after such a critical call has since evaporated with debilitating doubt taking its place.
The dice of desperation
With the unveiling of Mr. Shettima as the running mate to Mr. Tinubu scheduled for Wednesday July 21, 2022, Nigerians kept a keen watch.
Already, with many within and outside the APC criticizing the religious complexion of the presidential ticket of the ruling party in a country where religion matters more than anyone would care to admit, the party must have known it was skating on thin ice.
Thin ice because many of those who would matter in election proper had clearly indicated that the decision of the APC to fly a Muslim- Muslim ticket had left them with no choice but to look elsewhere.
The garbs of gimmickry
On the designated day, as Nigerians kept vigil over events unfolding at the Shehu Musa Yar
Adua center in Abuja, Nigerias capital, venue of the unveiling, the APC`s defiant demeanor cracked, shelled apart by some persons dressed in clerical robes who were seen filing into the venue.
They were ostensibly there to represent Christians many of whom had balked at the APC`s Muslim- Muslim ticket. As the pictures circulated on social media, the Christian community in Nigeria was quick to deny the emergency priests and bishops.
Conspiracy theories have continued to course through the country about how the `priests and bishops’ were hired to represent Christians that had been so deliberately alienated.
Between conscience and convenience
In going for a Muslim- Muslim presidential pairing, the APC may have been panicked into putting pragmatism over the pulse of many Nigerians by the raging popularity of its main rivals for the presidency.
However, it would have been naïve of it not to see that the backlash will be swift and cutting. As Nigeria`s democratic journey continues, religion has become as forceful an issue as ethnicity whenever national discourse has come up.
It may not be ideal, but it will take great delicacy to move Nigeria away from the days when religion plays a factor in national affairs. Unfortunately, many of those who form the country`s political class lack any capacity for the delicacy needed especially as many of them had used religion in the past for their own selfish ends.
While the circus moves on along the Nigerian circuit, a country surrounded by enemies has learnt the life-saving art of vigilance, and the joke is on those who think they can pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians as they did in the past.