Nana Aisha Salaudeen
It is no news that Nigerians are extremists – and in everything too. Whether or not we choose to admit it, we are laced with (un) conscious bias. Yes, I’m saying there’s some form of sexist, racist, and religious/ethnic bias fortified within many of us ready to prowl out anytime (provided we allow it to). – And you know what’s hysterical? We twist religion to rationalise our bigotry!
It’s why we have a prowling harebrained maniac like Abubakar Shekau slaughtering thousands of innocent Nigerians alongside his senseless ensemble of fanatics claiming God asked them to do so or why Pastor Timothy Ngwu impregnated near half of his female congregation with the assertion that the Holy Spirit asked him to do so. It is also why self-pronounced Sheikhs/Imams twist the Quran and Hadith to justify the subjugation of female rights and shun feminists – claiming God does not support such or why a President for four years, disregards his obligations and responsibility as a leader, only to emerge in numerous cathedrals weeks to reelection, calling on Reverend fathers to ‘pray’ for him and the homeland.
It is no shudder that the ‘Giant of Africa’ notwithstanding its abundant Mosques and Churches alongside millions of worshippers is enfolded by pecuniary disintegration, absolute and relative poverty, corrupt leaders, insecurity, among others. Why despite our conscientiousness do we have immeasurable unease afflicting the masses? Oddly, the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Sweden are more advanced and doing better than us despite that their leaders and people are not as ‘God fearing’ as ours. These countries relentlessly ridicule us and/or the religion that we so espouse, not because religion is humiliating – but because of what we have spun it to.
One of the numerous reasons for why we have been trapped in the same (unchanged) position for many years is because we allow those in power to dupe us with religion. An average ‘religious’ Nigerian would not demand accountability from a politician because he/she donated millions to the church he worships in or sponsored thousands to perform Hajj. We are so handcuffed by conviction that we cannot even fight the system (although it is not as simple as it guises) collective action is much better than praying to God for a solution to a problem that is within our control. The blame is not just on our Political, Religious and Business leaders. As pointed out in the preceding paragraph, we are similarly a group of virtuously degenerate pretenders passing for Muslims and Christians. We beseech the name of God only when it garbs our purpose while in actuality we live a hypocritical lifestyle – deceiving the gullible that we are a bunch of Godly individuals.
I am in no way implying that religion is bad – in fact I think it is liberating, it is what we have twisted it to that makes it corrupt. There is nothing iniquitous about being religious, as long as we are not two-faced about it and do not allow it get in the way of common sense. As a spiritual country, many have the ‘God will provide’ mentality – No, God will not provide. We often pray to God for better leaders, yet when it is time to vote many do not show up to the polling centre and others trade their votes for a few bags of rice. We obey and chase after Pastors that instruct their congregation to eat grass and drink petrol because somehow God instructed it. We sit idly at home ranting all day that there are no jobs while making no effort whatsoever to get productive employment because “if it is meant to be, God will make it happen”. We chase after the boy who stole a piece of meat from the neighbours pot and burn him alive while allowing the bigger criminals in power who have ‘stolen’ the wealth of the entire nation to thrive. We give front row seats to criminals in our various religious institutions. So are we being religious or hypocritical? What makes us different from Boko Haram, ISIS and Al Shabab who all use the name of God to justify their evil acts?
The most horrendous Nigerian admits to being an devotee of a precise religion, virtually all establishments are foreshadowed with prayers to deceitfully commit things into the hands of God even when the aftermath of such happenings have already been determined by men whose activities are nowhere near godly. ‘Playing’ with religion and/or the name of God with such an approach is past nauseating and rather revolting.
What Nigerians need is a country that actually works, one that all institutions are in place and not on the brink of collapse. To accomplish this we have to be channeled by common sense not pointless religious romanticisms.
Until we are truly sincere with God and religion and stop using and tolerating it as a tool to cover up evil, then we will keep going in circles. – And if you ever discover yourself extenuating any morally wrong or ‘evil’ act by twisting religion and/or ‘lying against’ God, then you’re not dissimilar from Abubakar Shekau – you don’t have to be a murderer and a raging lunatic to be a religious extremist.