As a way of life, I hate to be reactionary. With intelligence, I believe man can see his future, possible obstacles and work proactively to check or sidetrack them. Notwithstanding I also know all human beings can never be the same. Some have eyes, yet will not see; the tragedy of having myopic elements in high number is that they can make the few visionary ones to move in a manner Wole Soyinka recently described as ‘Circle of stupidity’. I am traumatized when nations of our age excel in technological inventions and we are still unable to decode uncomplicated matters. Religion is not a complex matter but we have made it so because some people want to achieve selfish agenda at the expense of national peace and the blood of innocent citizens. This ought not be where reason and good conscience prevails; it should not even be contemplated in our kind of society where given the configuration no one faith can overwhelm the other no matter how hard they try, yet mischievous ones are still pushing their luck.
As you read this, Jigawa State government is constructing 99 mosques with public funds; Imo has directed each local government to build a chapel at their secretariat. The two states can’t pay salaries and they are not industrialized; can anybody see the irony? I don’t have much space to talk on the merits and demerits of playing politics, but one thing I am certain in my heart is if I had my way, our leaders’ religious indulgencies should be removed from public view, that is to say TV and newspapers, to play down on such outing by giving it scant mention. I strongly believe religious outing should remain what it is, strictly a private affair. Building churches and mosques in government houses would have made sense to me if our society were to be a mono-faith society, but in this case, we are not, so commonsense should detect that no matter how fanatical one wants to be about his faith, your right, even when constitutionally guaranteed, should stop where the rights of others begin. Politicization creeps in when the state, through political players, begins to take deliberate steps to make the state favour one faith above others and to make laws that attempt to make a particular faith look like a state religion.
At the National Assembly, some legislators want to make our nation one of two separate legal systems. The question would be “what drives them?” Like I observed in the part (1) of this discourse last Sunday, religion is a good instrument for the development of a society, it can bind a people together, feed their spiritual needs and destroy superstitions; it can make the mind receptive to new ideas. This is not new, read up Egyptian, Roman Empire, Middle-East, Great Britain and American histories and one would find how religion was craftily employed to remodel society. It is true there were some negatives to the developments; this should never be an issue because this is where history comes into play, to show us mistakes of the past in order to avoid them. Islam is not a violent religion as the activities of some misguided felons have tended to make it appear. Islam contributed a lot to the development of modern mathematics. Religion and not law helped America to achieve character modification; puritanism and great awakening were about that. Religion also afforded the Black slaves to be trained in formal education from where civil rights leaders emerged. Today those leading America’s political and economic domination of the world are the clergy. Israel is not a Christian nation, yet it is appropriating the benefits.
I expected our leaders to know these and since they claim they love our nation, to replicate these and more here for our advantages, but they don’t appear to catch the vision. Pastors Enoch Adeboye of Redeemed Christian Church of God, Bishop David Oyedepo of Living Faith, Chris Oyakilome of Christ Embassy, T.B Joshua of Synagogue Church of All Nations, Lazarus Muoka of The Lord’s Chosen, Ezekiel of Christian Pentecostal Mission, W.F. Kumuyi of Deeper Life, Mathew Ashimolowo of KICC, Paul Enenche of Dunamis, Mike Okonkwo of TREM, Chris Okotie, Tunde Bakare, Anselm Madubuko, Adelaja, Wale Oke, Chioma Dauji of Amazing Grace Pentecostal, Humphrey Erumaka, just to mention but few, are men and women who at the individual level have demonstrated the awesome power of God and are expanding the frontiers of their mission beyond our nation. They are recording results; some are building schools even though extremely expensive and creating employment; but their reach could be farther and the benefits for our nation immense if our political leaders are the reasoning and creative types who can see the need to give them national recognition, declare them national assets and give them diplomatic coverage and protection to do more and bring more results. Colonialists knew this secret and used it greatly to the economic and political advantage of their nations, nothing suggests we cannot do same. What has stood between us is short sightedness; I have not mentioned what we can get from the orthodox denominations. The Catholic Church alone can help our nation deal effectively with challenges in education, health and unemployment, same with institutions within the Islamic faith.
If we work with faith-based organizations, industrialization would blossom affordable but qualitative schools would be established, efficient health care services at low cost would also be available for the majority who can’t find employment let alone foot high cost of medical services which have become the hallmark of our kind of capitalism. We don’t know how to usefully deploy religion because those who masquerade as leaders lack capacity for deep rationalization, they want the cheap way out and what comes handy is to create disorder with the intention to reap order. This is foolishness of the highest kind. Our political leaders at the slightest opportunity wave the religious flag yet most of them are either Christians or Muslims by reason of birth and not by conviction. Many of them don’t know what the principles of the faith they profess are; one may bear John or Mathew and is a nominal attendee to church services, this symbolism does not qualify him for the membership of the assembly let alone a membership of the body of Christ; same happens in other faiths, yet we see these men and women in power and authority and misconstrue them for true children of God and that increases our confusion when they record huge failures. But they are not children of the real God, many of them belong to esoteric organizations whose fort is clairvoyance, no wonder they run things upside down leaving the nation worse for it. China has a religion but the leaders there don’t carry it on their heads. Today the world’s longest ocean bridge is located in China, 26 miles in length and took four years to build, it cost US$1.5 billion and has a life expectancy of 100 years; as a friend observed, ask our leaders to build same bridge in Nigeria we will go bankrupt. My friend also pointed out that the second Niger Bridge in Onitsha is just one mile and is costing over 100 billion naira, about 500 million dollars. I was told China built 30,000 megawatts of electricity at US$ 29 billion. We have spent over US$ billion to establish more darkness, yet we have churches and mosques which Chinese don’t have.
Negative spirituality and unnecessary meddling in pure faith by unholy politicians is responsible for the disorderliness and distortion in our society. It is the reason why we embrace nepotism; it explains why it would take six months to pass the North East Development Commission Bill and 14 years and four presidents, yet the Petroleum Industry Bill is nowhere to be passed. Is it not amazing that for ten 10 years our politicians are still to get through with the definition of an oil producing community? These and other forms of injustice happen when leaders leave substance to chase shadows. For those at the receiving end of religious maltreatment, my advice is that to have peace, you must prepare for war and for those pushing hard to destroy this great country through religious war, they should know that such wars have no boundary, if they are still in doubt Sudan and Central Africa are still very near.