I do not love to pussy-foot on the big issues. I disagree that Islam and Christianity hamper Nigeria’s progress. I would rather say the adherents of Islam and Christianity as it is practiced in Nigeria hamper Nigeria’s progress. The other day my childhood friend was in Senegal and he heard some Islamic clerics advice the Senegalese not to be as fanatical with religion as Nigerians.
While multiculturalism affects many countries around the world positively, the global trend has affected us negatively. Nigeria is supposed to be the success story of Africa but has performed abysmally not because of religion but because of the character of the people who practice religion.
We sing and dance for symbolism’s sake in Church but do not love our neighbours. We make public pledges in the millions sometimes to showboat even when our housemaids wear rags and can only go to school at 9:30am instead of at 7:30am after having done all their house chores. If you are someone who carries some weight, twelve ministers of the Lord will attend your daughter’s wedding as opposed to one if you are a lowly being. A religion that once cared for the people, educated the poor now annihilates the poor.
No. It is not Christianity and Islam but the adherents of these two religions hamper Nigeria’s development. Many Nigerians flock to religious homes simply because there are no jobs and the government does not have plans to create any. If there were and such plans, people wouldn’t be at dawn, noon and dusk services at a time when they should be at work.
We are bedeviled by dark undercurrents of hate and demagoguery, the fraternal ideological divides that have proved to be a thorn on our national flesh. With the failure of governance where else should people look for hope and inspiration? The mosques and churches are now centers where many are brainwashed. And we have used these places wrongly to fleece people of their resources, indoctrinate wrongly and make others militants for a peaceful God.
Despite civilization, Nigerians are taught to remain in the seventh-century. The religious do not bother about humanitarian efforts of feeding the hungry, homeless, the sick and elderly. My hope has been that with democracy, Nigeria would separate religion from the state and offer every citizen political participation in everything noble. But this is not to be now and doesn’t look likely to be anytime soon.
This is partly so because we only manage to practice democracy in Nigeria. Our democratic lavations are only carried out during electioneering periods after which you truly know what the actors have become. They encourage subjugation and injustice and their policies are not all embracing.
Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia is all-embracing without unnecessary controversies so also is Christianity elsewhere but not in Nigeria. The adherents of Islam and Christianity fight each other along the route to the temple and miss the temple in the end.
- Simon Abah,
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