Religion, Politics Nigeria’s National Unity


It will also be recalled, how our nation rallied in sympathies and mournfulness, in support of victims of Ogunpa River, when it had overflowed and breached its banks, killing scores, and damaging properties extensively. Nigerians mourned as Ogunpa River breached it and flooded communities, killing many Nigerians in scores, Nigerians were united.

The same can be said of Nigerians reaction recently, during the President Obasanjo administration, when the federal government exercised it’s strong arm and might, in dealing with situations in Odi, then Zaki Biam etc, the government received robust criticisms from a welter of Nigerian critics, who rallied to support, the recipients of government tough stance policies.

National unity, has also been exemplified and replayed, after every successive air disasters and successive defeats at international soccer games, even though is dirges, but united, nevertheless!

These assertions that I make, are not so, because I want to be flippant or careless. Instead, these assertions arises from my keen observations of Nigerians over an extended period of time. I have for instance observed that Nigerians tend to bandy together when there are crises, crises that affect us Nigerians as a collective in interests and aspirations.

Imagine the wonderful Nigeria that would result, if Nigerians, all focus on a common purpose? As opposed, to, parochial, limited and shortsighted divisive purposes?

These observations that I have made, have led me to conclude that a great number of Nigerians seem to owe unflinching and unalloyed allegiance to their religion, and then ethnicity, and region, in that order.

I have observed how frequently, Nigerians have reacted with extraordinary strong emotions and opinions, to matters Nigerian, in particular, issues that have religious undertones and flavor. But why does parochial matter have the advantage, over national issues and national interests?

Similarly, Nigerians are quick to jump and leap, in defense of their ethnicity or region, when matters affecting such geographical affinity, to some Nigerians, you would see ferocity, vehemence and audacious reactions in defense of, in retaliations against perceived targets or opponents or proponents.

If a Nigerian writes an article, for instance, about how Nigeria can harness the immense benefits of modern technology and its information superhighways, or how Nigeria could place Nigerian scientists on the surface of the moon, in say, ten years, or if anyone bash Nigeria, the response would be assuredly, tepid and terse, spiced with snickers of laughter and jest, at the writer’s dare at such positive audacities!

Conversely, if anyone writes about a particular religion, or shrine in the East-North-West-Central and in-between of Nigeria’s geographical land-space, or if anyone writes about the Christianity or Islam, assuredly too, there will most probably be, a ferocities of flurry of responses. There will be a deluge of attacks. As well as a flood of threats of sanctions and harms to the writer.

Before I became a semi retired Catholic, I left the Catholic Church and joined a semi Catholic Church, Marble Collegiate church in midtown Manhattan in New York City. This church is where the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the author of the famous book, “The Power of Positive Thinking” He held court as an all inclusive congregation preacher reverend, he preached as the resident Bishop for over fifty years, until his death at 93 years of age as the head of this Dutch-Reformed, Catholic without the guilt-church.

At Marble Collegiate church, the practice of religion is liberal, very liberally inclusive. It regularly, invited Imams of Islam, Rabbis of Judaism, animated Pastors of Pentecostal, as well as Baptist churches, and, Gay and Lesbian ministers to preach regularly, at Marble!

Marble Collegiate church in my view therefore, practice tolerance, practice diversities par excellence, in doing so, it weaved a true unity of fabrics of its congregants into a spiritual cloth for members of the congregation, irrespective of their race, nationalities, religious backgrounds and leanings, and sexual orientation. The choir leader of Marble at a time was a hired Jewish female Rabbi equivalent.

This Marble Collegiate analogy, is just the same way, in my opinion at least, that Nigerians can weave the different and very wondrously diverse fabrics of our Nigerian-ness, into a national unity cloth, for the benefits of all Nigerians

If I have my way, I would convince Nigerians to reverse the order above, in which religion, region and ethnicities, as parochial as they are, are however put over and above, as priority, against Nigeria‘s national interests! Nigerians should love Nigeria first and foremost, then love hometowns and region, then religion and other things. But Nigeria first and foremost and all other things, as the biblical injunctions say, all other things will be added to Nigerians and Nigeria.

I was opposed to sovereign national conference, I remain opposed.
I have been called various unflattering names for believing unflinchingly, in one, indivisible Nigeria.

Reference: Please also see related materials
1. Why Must We Kill Ourselves?
2. Nigerian Citizenship Should Be Redefined
3. This is: A Moral Issue, a National Issue, and an Election Issue!

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Olusola February 3, 2009 - 6:42 pm

The view of one who has witnessed these killings can certainly not be disregarded! I am Yoruba and I live in S/w Nigeria. so I have not witnessed them. I hope I wont when I go for NYSC next year!

Julius June 22, 2007 - 11:24 am

The religious fanatics in Nigeria definately see it differently from your own view Mr. Paul, go to the north and you will understand, I was born and brought up in the north, I personally witnessed many religous killings which sometimes are very senseless, take for example, if the US is engaged in war with a Mideast country we then in Kano shivers because our muslim brothers in Kano can wake up one morning and turn the matchete on the southern christians as if I'm an american. I remember just because Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was coming to Kano to preach all hell broke loose, right in front of me a young southern lady was stoned to death, I was lucky then because my hausa was flawless and of course I dress like them. Recently during one of their recent religous killings my dad's childhood friend was murdered and chopped into pieces, we still couldn't recover the complete body parts for burial. I really don't blame the al majiris carrying out this killings I blame the so-called northern leaders who uses these people to achieve their political ends, remember Buhari's comment then that muslims should not vote for a christian leader. If you think Nigerians will put their religious differences aside to forge a better nigeria think again Sir. I love Nigeria but I strongly believe that Nigeria will be better off as separate but united, what do I mean I prefer a loose federation where each region will take care of it's own while contributing a percentage to the center. This might just work better for us, how long I ask will some sections of the country continue to maim and kill the other sections without retaliation. Certainly not very long. A loose federation in my view is better than what we have right now, in fact since we've practised this United Nigeria for long without any visible result, then ket us try something else. Why do we keep working on an engine that has refused to start can't we just buy a new engine and get this equipment moving. Like I said I love Nigeria but I certainly don't mind a loose federation if that will bring development and growth which the country so desperately need. I rest my case. God Bless Nigeria(United or Loose).


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