Home Muslim religion Note of the same faith: the manipulation continues

Note of the same faith: the manipulation continues


“Manipulation of Religion in Nigeria, 1977-1987” by the late Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman is a book that contains highly revealing analyzes of the specific ways in which various groups within the Nigerian political class have continued to manipulate the inherent religious sentiments of the people. in their life. attempt to seize or retain power. It was with exceptional erudition that Usman, who was a famous professor of history at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria and whose arguments were the products of a rare intellectualism, exposed not only the sinister motives of religious manipulators but also the consequences or effects of their actions on Nigeria.

A respected scholar, he was also a great influencer of thought whose radicalism was both a source of inspiration for many young minds and a cause of notable unease among reactionary and conservative elements and groups. His persistent attempt to uncover the divisive plans of power seekers helped enormously to show how certain identities, religion being the most important of all, served as tools of societal disintegration which they used freely at that time. . .

Although the book only covers ten years (1977-1987), mainly for convenience, the issues it contains are still as relevant to a proper understanding of political developments in the country as they ever were. summer, which makes the worry over that they continue to grow. By stating, in the introductory part of the book, that the fundamental questions about the “increasingly violent political campaigns built around religious differences in this country today, can only be fully understood when seen in the context larger picture of what happened in Nigeria”, Dr Usman pointed to a particular situation which not only prevailed during the reporting period, but which would become and in fact became the most dominant feature of Nigerian politics .

Even with the assertion that politics and democracy have already become entrenched and institutionalized processes to which almost all citizens have fully subscribed, the manipulation of people’s religious and other feelings in order to achieve political goals continues. The way in which political parties or, more precisely, individuals seeking power deploy religion as a campaign tool, which is a clear negation of the principles of democracy, shows that the tendency of politicians to religiously manipulate the people is now much stronger.

At the national level and in other states or constituencies where the religious divide among the people is already clear, politicians easily conspire with religious leaders to ensure that simple differences escalate into extreme hostility between followers of Islam. and Christianity. All other factors such as competence, patriotism and service delivery readiness that should ideally always guide the people in choosing leaders are pushed into the background, resulting in a continuous decline in quality leadership and representation.

The ongoing controversy over same-faith banknotes ahead of the 2023 general election is an indication that religion is continually recognized as an important factor in the design and implementation of election strategies. Although somehow unique to the All Progressives Congress (APC), given the adoption of the formula in Kaduna State and even nationally by the party, the same faith ticket is now, without doubt, the most burning question of all. country.

It is, in fact, a strategy that has been hotly debated with each of the contending groups making proposals that clearly conflict with the views of the others. In the process of disputes, the religious sentiments of the conflicting groups or communities are further reinforced and pushed into intolerance.

However, it is continually clarified that a ticket for a political contest, as long as it meets the requirements of the law, whether Muslim-Muslim, Christian-Christian, Christian-Muslim or Muslim-Christian, is valid. The laws of the land are completely blind to the religious conviction of any candidate(s); a fact on which some of the like-minded ticket proponents went on to build their own argument.

It is therefore on the basis of this indisputable fact that many people are genuinely surprised, even disappointed, that such a simple question, which is the sole responsibility of candidates and political parties, has become a source of growing friction between individuals. adherents of both denominations and religious bodies. The confrontational posture adopted by these individuals and bodies, useless as they appear, remains a source of grave concern to all Nigerians concerned about peaceful co-existence in democracy.

But the opponents of the formula, even without clear constitutional provisions favorable to their position, openly rely on the moral factor and, of course, on the absolute necessity of political cohesion which naturally translates into national stability as reasons for their opposition to the ticket of same faith. Some of the results of the interrogation on the reason for adopting the formula which have already indicated a desire by politicians to continue to manipulate the religious feelings of citizens, with all the dangers that such an approach portends for the country, are also a factor that makes complaints about APC’s choice of the same-faith ticket option thicken.

Justification for fears about the intended horrific consequences of party action has somehow been found in the harsh reactions of, for example, the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Middle Belt Forum and others. These are reactions that have so far seemed to have dashed hopes of the prevalence of mutual trust between Muslims and Christians, especially in the northern part of Nigeria.

It is also a strategy that can cost the APC electoral fortunes as even in Kaduna State where its experimentation has proven to be a success, the failure of the ticket of same faith to serve the very basic interests of those segments of the population in the state that supported its adoption are a complete game-changer. That means the math that worked for the party in the state in 2019 is no longer reliable.

The same-faith ticket is therefore only a political strategy, but not one to take into account the sensitivity of Nigerians to their most fundamental identity (religion) or to indicate an intention to ensure justice and equity. within the framework of governance. It is this fear and all the reactions it has begun to generate that will effectively fuel the religious mistrust that is prevalent among Nigerians.

This is the kind of situation that is usually created by the manipulation of religion, which unfortunately has become the hallmark of most Nigerian politicians. Religions are not for them ways of life decreed by our Creator, but only instruments of pursuit and acquisition of power, which they easily abuse.