Vanguard (Lagos)

17 December 2012

Nigeria: Combating an Incipient Religious Polarisation

THE menacing spate of insecurity which has ravaged Africa's giant nation Nigeria expressed in youth militancy, armed robbery, kidnapping, smuggling, pipeline vandalisation, political violence and religious extremism may have gulped unjustifiable chunk of the annual budget only next to the ministry of defence budget of the 30 months Nigeria civil war.

Of all the above insecurity episodes none has denounced solution and attracted global intervention as the recent terrorist invasions with suicide bombers of the parts of this country by the faceless Boko Haram sect believed to be of Islamic origin. Although Nigeria's present security challenge has become multi factorial, religion and politics appear to dominate other factors judging from the recent vituperations of some self proclaimed spokesmen of that terrorist organisation. These includes the alleged call for sharia law and unsubstantiated marginalisation of setting ethnic and or religion-cultural interest in the northern part of the country.

What baffles public observers is that in this part of the world including other African countries like Egypt, Somalia, Mali, Tunisia, religion is fast losing its pride of place as the opium of society. I am not a student of the Quran but I am aware that this book is similar to the Holy Bible which remains the foundation of knowledge and repository of ethical values needed by mankind for the management of the political and economy especially in the face of a seeming global decline in the confidence level of scientific and economic theories.

Suppose the extremists of Christian Nigeria and their counterpart of the traditional faith decide to embark on a similar venture, what becomes of the fate of the giant? This is the million dollar question. And suppose the quest for increased state autonomy and state police is endorsed by the National and State assemblies, what do we expect?

One must commend the courage of many northern leaders especially the Sokoto monarch who is the grand superintendent of Nigeria's Islamic congregation for condemning the terrorist invasion of parts of the country by those believed to be Muslims. Similarly, one must commend President Goodluck Jonathan for handling the Boko Haram menace with caution this far and would wish him more grease to his elbows. Can anybody for example dismiss the insinuation that the advent of Christians and Islamism may have eroded a substantial part of Africa's ethical values. Some of these African countries including Nigeria could be heading for a dangerous extinction of their cultural values and of the African identity.

We should all join our ebullient and patriotic ex-fascist head of state Retired General Yakubu Gowon in praying for our country for a divine intervention so that our country may not be infested by the current wave of religion virus sweeping across the eastern world into the African continent.

Mr. Nwadialor, , a commentator on national issues, wrote from Abuja.

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