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No religion can dominate Nigeria

No religion can dominate Nigeria

Religion has becomes the last refuge of hope for average Nigerians. When it comes to religion give it to Nigerians, Nigerians love their religions, perhaps a little more than they love their ethnicities. Their nation? Who cares about that? Who even needs a nation? We are exploring ways of issuing international passports that show where we worship and how, including the indigenous language we speak. Intellectual dishonesty takes over. We are forever hunting.

In Nigeria, religion have always trump common sense. Why are most Nigerians more interested in making heaven – inspite of their inconsistencies and many sins which have got us to this present quagmire, rather than trying to make this place a better place for all to live in? 

It is worthy of retrospection the claim by many echoed recently by Retired Commodore Kunle Olawunmi sometimes in August. He made so many shocking and solid statements worthy of investigation from a security angle, but then complicated everything by claiming there that the entire nation is about to be Islamized. These are rabid claims from some of our most eloquent folks, many of them clergymen of the Christian faith, meaning they have a bias in the matter. 

Olawunmi alleged that there are some terrorists in Buhari’s government. Buhari, for me, seems a lost cause. A president who despite the myriad of challenges in the land continues to insist on ancient practices is not one to hold any breath for. Why not count the days until he departs? For he shall, some day. So, this is all about Buhari and pseudo-islamisation of the nation.

Buhari despite the shortcomings of his administration was deprived of being the president of this country thrice for the fear of many that if by chance he is elected, there is going to be a drive for Islamization of the country. Why? Because many see him as a Islamic fundamentalist, Many obstacles were thrown on his way to make his presidential a mirage, not until he seceded the deputy slot to a pastor.

Many, mostly Christian are relating the activities of Boko Haram and bandits in the north as a process in the islamisation agenda of the Muslim dominated north by the election of Buhari in 2015. For someone who has heard how these guys slaughter human beings like hapless chicken, will know that the terrorists of Northern Nigeria do not discriminate. They have surely killed way more Muslims than Christians which has nothing to with religion purpose. One can simply recall in January 2012 and November 2014 killings of over 300 people as they emerged from prayers at the Kano Central Mosque. From Borno, to Kaduna, and lately the senseless massacres in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Niger and elsewhere, these terrorists seem not to care about anyone’s religion before abducting and killing them. In the Jonathan days, they never cared about the religion of any of their victims when they bombed Nyanya bus stop, Kuje night market, Banex Plaza, or even the United Nations headquarters in Abuja.  

One fact can however be ceded to Olawunmi and proponents of Islamization of Nigeria; one is that for a while now, the world and Nigeria has suffered from a brand of terrorism from a group of people who are fanatical adherents of the Islamic faith. Since the Irish Republican Army was tamed, we haven’t had many Christian groups ready to kill others for any cause and since the Spanish Inquisition of the 1400s, I’m not sure we have seen many Christian groups ready to kill in the name of the religion. The Nazis had an idea about Christian supremacy, but also coloured that with a huge dollop of racism, obscuring their Christian fanaticism. Secondly, there is an injunction for Muslims to always come together wherever they may find themselves, and in Nigeria, as unrighteous as the outcomes of our conduct have shown us to be, Muslims make it a point of duty to always create the atmosphere to invite other Muslims for worship wherever the opportunity arises.

It is very unfortunate that we have someone at the helms of affairs who thinks in very narrow terms and who has either emboldened these extremists or looked away from doing anything tangible about them. His body posture has also fueled suspicion – especially among people of the other Abrahamic faith – just as his general approach to governance which some will say absence from governance has compounded Nigeria’s problems on many fronts.

Even so, can anyone ISLAMISE Nigeria? Can anyone ISLAMISE, Christianise, or Traditionalise the whole of this country? As a fact, we all know the tug of war between Christianity and Islam in Nigeria. These two foreign religions are always struggling with each other for elusive supremacy. Of late, and especially in the South, many young Muslims have found it easier, and more fun, to switch to Christianity, thus spurring Islamic leaders to come up with ideas that could help retain their youths, such as NASFAT. Perhaps, rather than promote the hypothesis that Muslims and Christians could not exist in the same country in almost equal proportions, we could have risen above such sentiments and made Nigeria a model country. But the so-called intellectuals, who should be at the vanguard of such an idea, are the ones who push the extremism from the pulpit and other places. Both sides are equally culpable.

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In a more intriguingly way, a good number of the fieriest Christian preachers, were initially Muslims, including David Oyedepo, Tunde Bakare, Matthew Ashimolowo, Joshua Iginla, Yinka Yusuf, and Johnson Suleman, among many others. Nigeria has seen growing aggressiveness on both sides, when other countries were focused on improving the livelihoods of their people and improving standards of living. The Christians here have done fairly well, due to what is known as Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic (since many of our churches pump up their people to get rich), but in many instances, the greed of church leaders get the best of them and ends up impoverishing the majority. Nigeria’s brand of Islam – especially northwards – is tightly fused with politics and has not done a lot to reposition the majority economically. Nigeria’s inability to get 15 million children off the streets, and reposition education up North, is due to the influence of powerful Muslim clergy, who are wittingly or unwittingly holding down the vast majority of the people to be pliable for dishonest politicians who also play the religious card when it suits them.

Nigeria has been in comatose , largely as a result of this sharp and unproductive divide along religious lines. Those who have also benefited from this country, and been at the kitchen table with their mouths full from the morsels of the national cake, should spare the rest of us of these religious counter-accusations when they get kicked out of the inner circle. Integrity requires that they try and change whatever is wrong, from within.  

We should all slow down on all these theories, like the one that says Uthman Dan Fodio sought to dip the Qur’an in the Atlantic. Some even say that the road that led to Bar Beach was named after Ahmadu Bello, a descendant of Uthman Dan Fodio. Let us roll back some of these dark, ugly and sad tales and ensure we do not indoctrinate our children into them. The challenge our children face, is not among themselves, but with children in other countries, performing great feats, in sports, in technology, in industry, in the arts. I believe this country can be turned around in a short period of time. I am sick and tired of all the negative energy around and will have nothing to do with such. I am a hopeful person and anyone who needs to be hopeless should give me a wide berth please. 

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