Monday, 8 April 2013

HOW RELIGIOUS POLITICS IS TEARING NIGERIA

It has been pointed out in several quarters that Nigeria is more threatened from inside than from outside. One of the potent threats which have come to limelight of recent is religious politics, or religion and political intolerance, if you like. The introduction of religion into politics and vise-versa can be trace to the first republic when our regional political leaders engaged the masses’ psyche through religious mechanism.   This monster merely tolerated the nation for a while, fed fat on our corrupt system and is today out to tear the country into pieces if nothing is done to change the tide.

The first major manifestation of religious politics’ coordinated attack on the nation was the Maitasine episode in parts of northern Nigeria and the March 1987 religious riots in Kaduna State. The political crises of 1965 in the West and violence which greeted the 1983 general elections in the country are all good examples of the adverse impacts of religious politics. In fact, the events which led to the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970 were not unconnected with this monster.

The fears being expressed by concerned Nigerians and true friends of Nigeria is the danger of the country being torn apart if the various appearances of intolerance are not properly contained?

Importantly, there is urgent need for the Federal Government of Nigeria to de-emphasize religion from the nation’s body politics. Our political leaders want to make heaven(?), no doubt about that, but not in that red gown dotted here and there with stains of corruption; and definitely, not by turning the Presidential Villa into a Church or Mosque. Religion must be separated from politics if Nigeria must move forward.

The emergency of Boko Haram in Nigeria is traceable to the making of provisions for Sharia Laws and Courts in the country’s Constitution and availability of army of unemployed and frustrated youths. In Northern Nigeria there are numerous Muslim groups, which want to introduce Sharia in the whole country. In the States of the North these demands was fully implemented between 1999 and 200in the following nine states namely: Zamfara, Kano, Sokoto, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kabbi, and Yobe; while Sharia became valid for areas with a mainly Muslim population in Kaduna, Niger, and Gombe States within the same period; thus, making Nigeria a country with double standards federal laws.  This is not the way to Go-On-With-One-Nigeria (GOWON) which we pledge to. Mr. President, Nigeria is drifting. Sum up the political will to arrest the situation in the interest of NIGERIA, the most populous black nation which blacks all over the world are looking up to.

This lopsidedness in our management of religious affairs, and tactical Islamization of Nigeria did not start today. It was spearheaded by former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida when he smuggled Nigeria into the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the G8 Islamic Countries in 1986. The process of Islamizing the country was further re-enforced and cemented by former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he approved the Sharia or Islamic legal system for the country in 1999.

But, come to think of it, when Christians in this country argued that since Sharia is given a place in the Constitution, provisions should also be made for Ecclesiastical Laws and Courts, nobody cares to listen.  

The northern leaders, led by the northern oligarchy, believe that they own Nigeria and must therefore have their way always. The result is where we are today, in a dilemma. No doubt the threat from northern elders directed at Mr. President’s 2015 election’s bid is already making him nervous; the stance of the military top brass on Boko Haram’s amnesty has also left him more confused; coupled with the guns that are booming from both the creeks and the deserts. Mr. President must work very hard to keep the country intact beyond 2015.

Boko Haram has capitalized on the confusion already generated by poor management of religious politics to call, or embark on jihad, for the replacement of western education with Islamic education in Nigeria; establishment of Sharia or the Islamic legal system in the whole of Nigeria; dismantling of democracy and the enthronement of Islamic style of governance. That is, total Islamizing of Nigeria.

 

The truth about Nigeria’s religious predicament is that it is the imported religions that have so far created much of the troubles in the country. The Nigerian ruling elites, who immersed this country in corruption, bribery, and outright looting of public treasury and other vices, are the products of these imported religions. Of course, yes, our Churches and Mosques do not encourage these vices, but the Nigerian ruling elites are worshippers in these holy places. Therefore, if Nigeria is to be salvaged through the Churches and Mosques, the lessons taught in these holy places and the methods of imparting them must be reversed or possibly, demystified and made more relevant to the moral and ethical needs of Nigeria through appropriate legislation. This is where the National Assembly must play its role to save Nigeria from the missiles pouring on the country at the instances of these religious opportunists who are bent on killing Nigeria.

The interest of the country should be uppermost in all our religious activities and dealings. Nigeria is a multi-religious society. Therefore, it is not advisable to create pockets of privileges for any particular religion. Because, doing so opens up the floodgates of impossible demands as we are witnessing today. The Federal Government of Nigeria should avoid the danger of fractionalizing Nigeria on the banner of religion by de-emphasizing religion from government processes. Religion should remain personal affairs of the individual without government imposing any hindrances or attaching any special privileges thereto so far it is practice within the obit of the Constitution and Common Law of Nigeria.

In all these aspects, education has very prominent roles to play. We must divorce religion from politics, we must endeavour to eradicate the culture of violence from the system and we must be trained to extol the culture of a commitment to the rules of political game and must learn to follow due process of law to redress our grievances.

Above all, there is urgent need to consider regulating religious activities as this has caused the nation more harm than good especially in the areas of inciting violence, shedding of innocent blood and destruction of valuable properties.

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