Badamasi S. Burji
If religion were a force in fostering good leadership, Nigeria would have been the greatest country in the world, even surpassing the United States of America, given her incredible human and material resources and clement weather conditions.
Politicians support the religious institutions financially, rendering religious leaders incapable of criticizing them, especially when they have grown corrupt. Political problems take on religious dimensions; manipulated by politics, poverty among the faithful of one religion can be blamed on the depravity and greed of another. The religious depth of the country dates back far longer than recent times. Northern Nigeria has been largely Muslim since Usman Dan Fodio led a jihadist crusade there in the late 18th century, establishing the regional Sokoto Caliphate meant to govern the region, an office that still exists (if more symbolically) today.
Likewise, Christian missionaries are as old in Nigeria as the British colonial experiment. The two religions were, for many decades, separated by an artificial line drawn by the colonial power that cut off the supposedly Muslim North from the supposedly Christian South. Such artificial lines have a way of becoming true if they are kept long enough, and that’s exactly what is happening. Religions were taken on as identities in both separated regions, and suspicion of the other side grew, not least because the British built the army and the state largely with Northerners.
Ideally, religious leaders should be bold in speaking out against injustice, corruption, and impunity in government. In our own case, fawning members of the clergy are pusillanimous; they pretend that “it is well,” and continuously ask Nigerians to pray for their leaders. The only prayer our leaders deserve, if indeed there is a God that answers prayers, is the request that those guilty of corruption and incompetent leadership should be afflicted with protracted terrible and incurable diseases that will prevent them from enjoying their ill-gotten wealth.
A poor man can be swept off his feet to jail where he will wither away without lawyer or trial or light of day. A rich man can buy his freedom, though he’d likely never be arrested in the first place. He can shame the (usually poor) policemen into admitting that their guns have no bullets and their threats have no depth compared with his pockets. When a poor man steals bread, he is taken to the run-down concrete police station, stripped of his clothes, and marched through the street in shame for his guilt. When a rich man skims off the top of his enormous business deal, however, he buys a new house.
Moreover, there is compelling evidence that many pastors and imams use diabolical means to strengthen and consolidate their entrapment of prominent church members. Thousands of gullible Nigerians have given away billions in cash and property to wily demagogues and criminals masquerading as men and women of God. Countless others have been rendered useless by greedy and wicked religious preachers who readily exploit the existential fears and gullibility of people to extort money and property from them. It is impossible to forget those that lost their means of livelihood and whose families are destroyed simply because they succumbed completely to the sugary banalities of lunatic demagogues in religious garments.
On the 9th of February, Senate President David Mark warned some desperate persons using politics and religion to destroy the sanctity of the unity and peace of the nation to desist in order to avoid the wrath of God. during the installation ceremony of the metropolitan Archbishop of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Joseph Job in Abuja, He noted that, “to sponsor or promote violence , destruction and uncharitable utterances in the name of politics or religion is totally unacceptable and must be condemned in the strongest term in words and deeds. He expressed concern that most people tend to use politics and religion for the wrong reasons.
Now between greedy politicians and cash and carry men of God who is in control of Nigeria? Nigeria’s problem is beyond Christian – Christian or Muslim -Muslim ticket, it is about who will make Nigerians comfortable, irrespective of belief.