Politics of religion versus common sense

By Hussain Obaro   |   18 January 2015   |   11:00 pm  

A PROFESSOR once said, “the major difference between the developed nations and the undeveloped or developing ones is that while the developed nations had realised that God had already given them all they needed to create a “perfect” society having given them brains, the undeveloped nations have refused to leave God alone. They always call on and expect Him to come down from Heaven to fix their problems.’’ No doubt, like every other developing or third world countries, Nigeria is a highly “religious” country. Adherents of Christianity and Islam which are the two major, religions often turn out en-masse and throng their various places of worship. They are not always shy to signify and identify themselves with their respective religions.

   Absolutely, there is nothing wrong with being religious if only, Nigerians are ready to adhere strictly to the tenets of the religions, if they do not allow religion get in the way of collective common sense and if Nigerians do not allow religious considerations get in the way of national interest. As a “religious” country, Nigerians have refused to realise that God cannot and would not do for man what man can do for himself. We often call on the Creator to help us change our leaders when we already have the power to do so with our voter’s cards.  We call on Him to come and end corruption and the culture of governmental impunity. 

   We entreat Him to help us build well-equipped hospitals. Some of our men even ask Him to come down and help them get their wives expectant without them doing the needful. Nigerians call on our Maker to come and build a house for them even when their income obviously would never build them one. Instead of being united and putting heads together to brainstorm how best to put a permanent end to the killings, maiming and bombings  by Boko Haram, we have continued to call on the Creator to come down to help us fight insurgency; we all sit back and play the blame game and politics as usual. This is the extent to which Nigerians have been blinded by religion.

    When someone steals goods the value of which is less than a thousand Naira or a pick pocket steals a wallet worth less than N5000.00 mobs converge to beat and torture the criminal, sometimes to death. In some cases the criminal is set ablaze. This is because we regard stealing as unacceptable in a “religious” society like ours. Also in states where the Islamic Sharia law is practised, the petty criminals often bear the full wrath of the law.  Ridiculously, the bigger criminals whose loot usually runs into tens of millions and billions of Naira are celebrated and honoured by churches and mosques. Our “religious” society is one in which big criminals and executive thieves are worshipped. These criminals often are the ones who are given chieftaincy titles and the front pews in religious houses, all because of the huge amounts they pay as tithes to their churches and donations they make to their mosques. One then begins to wonder how religious we really are in Nigeria.

   Since independence, we have had both Christians and Moslems at the helm of affairs at one point or the other, yet our country has remained what it is today. People who thought that the country would fare better if a Christian were the president or if a Moslem was at the helms have ended up being greatly disappointed, at various times. Unfortunately, we have continued to have cases of agitations by different religions calling for enthronement of a member of their faith in political leadership positions in Nigeria. The protest which followed the ascension of a Christian as the governor of Kaduna State by a moslem group, that by organisations soon after Namadi Sambo was nominated as vice president, and the rejection and chaos which followed the swearing-in of a moslem governor in Taraba State by Christian groups—all show the extent to which we have allowed ourselves to be unnecessarily agitated and influenced by religion. The agitation in Taraba followed the incapacitation of Governor Dan-Baba Suntai. The clamour for a Christian governor by some Christian groups in Lagos State cannot go un-mentioned at this juncture.

   Nigerians have continued to be guided by religious considerations rather than common sense in selecting and electing political office holders. Ridiculously and unfortunately, to many Nigerians, it does not really matter whether a particular aspirant or candidate is morally upright, honest, accountable or God-fearing. So long as such an aspirant is an adherent of their religion, they will surely give him/her their votes. If we want a society governed by the rule of law, that will be free of corruption, where the provisions of the constitution are upheld to the letter, then we need to be guided by common sense. That will be a society where crime and terrorism will be brought to the barest minimum. It will be a society with the provisions of basic infrastructural amenities such as portable drinking water, good and motorable roads, well equipped hospitals, good schools and affordable educational facilities and food security. Recourse to common sense will engender a society with reduced unemployment level, a society in which security agencies are not used to harass citizens but to effectively secure lives and properties of all. It will be a society with a peaceful atmosphere that we all crave. Common sense, common sense and common sense, not religious sentiments and bigotry. It is time for us as Nigerians to begin to elect and vote leaders not based on religion or ethnicity, but on their past records of achievement, their uprightness, incorruptibility, integrity, and moral standing.

   The time for Nigerians to be guided by common sense in electing our leaders is now! It does not matter if a Christian or Moslem is the President of the country. What we should seek is his/her capacity to deliver good governance, give quality leadership, and to govern in line with the provisions of the constitution and the rule of law. His/her capacity to create jobs and provide basic infrastructural amenities should also count. It doesn’t matter if the president is Yoruba, Nupe, Igbo, Hausa-Fulani, Tiv, Ijaw, Itsekiri or Ebira. All Nigerians want is good governance.

* Obaro wrote from Ilorin, Kwara State. oseniobaro@yahoo.com 08065396694. 

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