The Religious Aspect of Politics and our Human Nature

by Christopher Odetunde, Ph.D

A study of the religions of mankind reveals that to all intents and purposes, humanity by nature subscribes to one form of religious philosophy or another. Our existential beliefs are still waxing strong. We also know that more than 80% of the people all over the world acquired their religiosity through a birth right or simply because they were born into the religion and they accepted it without questions asked. For me, I respect those that reconsidered and chose either to stay in the religion they were born into or change their religion completely. For such people that took their time to re-consider which religion best suit them, and what it really mean to them, if they are fundamentalists, I have absolute respect for them. All religions stemmed from cultural imperatives, philosophical attributes and societal norms but spirituality comes from the almighty.

In our need to feel more superior, to be more Catholic than the Pope, and to exhibit superior spirituality, we out rightly condemn other religions especially the African religious philosophies which were passed down to us by our forefathers. Those African religions helped to stabilize our society and positively effect our family, build our moral compass and help guide our going in and coming out. I see nothing wrong with these philosophies. I often wonder that if the whites were not the victors in the slave war, Christianity or Islam may not have taken root in Africa. If the reverse were true, would Africans not have imported their own religious philosophy to the Arabs and the white folks? Why are some pastors and Imams, and some closet born again (Christians and Muslims) co-mingling their religious beliefs with African religion (Babalawo)?

Why can’t they give onto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s? Some Christians that profess to be born-again often condemn one born agains almost as if they are the ones that have direct lines onto God. The bible tells us that each individual would be judged by his/her performance only. I believe, however, that on this mother earth, the sins of the father shall be visited onto the children up to the seventh generation because the children always partake directly or indirectly in the oppression of the weak and looting of the treasury by the so-called powerful. So our kind and gentle God, Allah is the most gracious and most merciful but He will make sure that no sin is left unpunished on this earth before we go to the great beyond.

As if to out do the Christians, some Muslims also condemn other Muslim sects for not belonging. Many pastors condemn other pastors either because they are competing for the same flock or something else is happening between them which a nicked eye may not be privy to. All the attendant campaigning to join one church, a mosque or another may not be too unconnected to gaining financial superior advantage. One religion that I am sure of is the African religion/philosophy of Ifa practiced by the Babalawo. Indeed, it seems that these practitioners cooperate with one another towards good and bad deeds to such an extent that there are referrals. The practitioners are loyal and firm in their belief. Is it surprising that many strong believers in Christianity and Islam often combine their faith with that of native doctors?The attractiveness of African religion should I chose to abandon my Catholic upbringing and St. John’s College, Kaduna strict religious rigor, Ifa may be one that I may look into. Never mind, am not changing religion. Let us note that each time a Babalawo is visited by those who want their destiny changed or those who want to change the destiny of others, the babalawo consults his oracle, finds that his client has offended someone in his past and insists that the client ask for forgiveness and perform restitution.

Restitution has many benefits that we as a people cannot ignore but it also poses certain challenges. Both Christianity and Islam require practitioners to practice restitution but hardly do practitioners consider it necessary in their lives. For instance, we know that once Zacchaeus, a rabid and wealthy tax collector, became born again, he declared to Jesus that he would give up 50% of the wealth he obtained from fraudulent tax collection to the poor as atonement for his indiscretion. Zacchaeus also promised to give back four times what he took from the people he cheated through deceit, (Luke 19: 1-10). Can you imagine if our thieves in charge, the politicians, decide to follow the Law of Moses by returning certain aggregate percentage of what they stole from the people back in form of job creation, Nigeria would be blessed. We pray that our politicians will see restitution as an outward declaration that they are born again Christian or Muslim and that they have really changed. We have so many cases that can be referenced in the bible of some looters and oppressors who after receiving salvation, go back to witnessing to people they oppressed and stole from. One cannot be born again in any form and keep oppressing and keep all the loots. It is a no no.

In the good ‘ol US of A, some politicians, in order to gain competitive advantage, profess to be evangelical Christians or born again. Many of their church leaders have falling by the way side because, after all they were not as sanctimonious as they made the electorates think. Many follow prostitutes while preaching against it. Many of the church leaders who crafted the born again strategy for these politicians converted Church’s money to their personal use at the behest of some enabling Church members who were also enjoying some largesse. Of all the well know religious groups, Christians seem to be willing to give Jesus Christ the leverage to fight His own fight such that when Jesus is abused or denigrated by other religions in a blasphemous manner, Christians only pray for the forgiveness of the abusers of Jesus.

On the other hand, Muslims seems to feel that Mohammed is weak so that when anyone writes, speaks negatively or abuse Mohammed, some of his followers declare “fatiah,” they rain storm and brim stone and are willing to go on killing spree to avenge on behalf of Mohammed. We also know that whenever a big man in the Muslim community steals or loots billions of Naira from the nation’s treasury, nothing happens to him according to the Shar’ia law but if a poor man steals an ordinary loaf of bread out of desperation to quench hunger, his hand is chopped off. Are these two seeing and favored differently by Allah and would they enter aljana differently?

The way politicians mix religion and politics in a convoluted manner leaves one with mouth wide open. When it favors a politicians, he claims to be born-again or a fundamental Muslim. However, whenever religion would negatively influence sharing of loot, these politicians abandon the route of their faith. If God is all knowing, why is He not striking these double dippers?Is there heaven or hell? Are heaven and hell in this world and so when all die, we meet at the foot of the Lord because we have been punished enough on earth? If hell and heaven really exist and if God is benevolent, why should He allow, for example, someone like Prince Charles of England who has never lifted a finger to do any real work in his life be instant billionaire while those poor subjects are wallowing in abject poverty. Why does God allow politician that has no traceable income to be rich while a child born in Ajegunle, sees wretchedness and hopelessness created by politicians, know only gang activities (area boys), stealing, get cut and executed by the same politicians and is assured of time eternity in hell?

In Nigeria, we see a lot of politicians that contributed nothing to the economy of Nigeria but loot the treasury dry while those citizens that gave more than fifty years of their lives serving the nation end up dying poor. Where is justice? Is this same God going to judge these two people differently or same? Why should politicians see stealing public money as a perk of office? As a human being born of a woman, I often pray and ask God to show me just the way he would judge both the living and the dead. Can God be so unforgiving and as wicked as Pastors, Imams, as the Bible portrays Him? Why will God, the all knowing, tempt weak people, knowing that they’ll fall by the wayside and still punish them when they fail?

May our existential humanity centering on believe system anchored on individual existence in an unfathomable universe, force the electorates and leaders to assume the ultimate responsibility of free will opportunity which the almighty endowed us without understanding certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or what is good or bad. May be, just maybe, President elect Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua will be the Moses of our time and change the nation’s waywardness even with opportunists left behind by yesterday’s baba and today’s sycophants hovering obsequiously around him. May Allah, the most merciful and Jesus the son of the living father combine to make him rebuff the temptation to loot the treasury and relegate Nigerians to further failure in life. While religion is the opium of the people, power is the aphrodisiac to the power drunk and the low self-esteem leaders.

Yar’Adua, being of sound mind and body must surround himself with good advisers and those that are ready to truly serve the nation. A way to measure Yar’Adua’s early performance is how he crawls out from the shadow of Obasanjo without being seen as ungrateful for the manipulation that got him into office. As OBJ said to those that got him into office, consider your investments bad investment, so must be the investment of those that want to see Nigeria lockstep in bondage. If Yar’Adua gets his early freedom in a surgical and effectively manner, he’ll be showing the nation an initial sign of his ability to impose an era of reform and transparency on this rich, sprawling, but divided nation but a nation with decaying infrastructure, poor government services, frequent bouts of religious violence and worldly discredited democracy. In the word of General Collin Powell, “if Yar’Adua breaks Nigeria, he would own it” to the interest of those that have condemn his administration a failure. But he cannot afford to fail us as a new kind of civilian leader.

We wait for God’s revelation as the most prayerful people and nation in the world seeks God’s face in this dispensation. God bless the new leader and his team because Nigeria must move forward to achieving her position in the world. And so, Yar ‘Adua must let Allah be praised with his action and performance.May he be an advocate of the poor and the downtrodden and he succeed where all others have failed – amen. May we the people rejoice and jubilate in this year of the Lord to celebrate our 47th independence anniversary with fanfare and rejoice in our successes – amen.

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1 comment

Anonymous May 18, 2007 - 1:15 pm

Stop looking to God to solve your problems. Use your brain. That is what I think Nigerians need to do.


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