By Bayo Fasunwon
The new year 2022 is here. This is a year in which many Nigerians await the fulfillment of past promises, completion of many government projects and hypes in the journey towards the occupation of the Presidency. Given the perceived government’s insensitivity to peoples plight it was not surprising, to see Nigerians troop to the various religious houses to ‘seek’ the face of God for the new year. The pursuit of spiritual fortification for many started long before the yuletide season.
Many prayer mountains, churches, temples, shrines and mosques would attest to the fact that patronage was very high especially in the month of December in preparation for the year 2022. Statistics had presented Nigeria as a multi religious country boasting of more than 90% of her nationals being adherents to one religion or the other. Every facet of life of the people wears the religious garb. Once ethnicity hurdle as a criterium for favours has been crossed, the next debacle is religious affiliation.
It was therefore important for some to insist on Christian/Muslim ticket for elections (what happens to the traditionalists); and also make a huge story out of the insinuation that the skyscraper in Lagos, being developed by a Christian collapsed minutes after a Muslim was denied employment in the building project. It would be tantamount to sacrilege for a Christian to emerge as a Vice Chancellor in University of Ilorin, or for a Mohammed Aliu to emerge as Principal in government owned St. Stephens Secondary School. A successful hijab wearing female is often given huge publicity while her non hijab donning, but equally successful sister is given a silent ovation. When a Pastor or an Imam rapes, it becomes a more heinous crime worthy of national headlines than when a Governor commits the same offence.
At the cross over service attended by yours truly, the Church was unusually fuller than its capacity. Seated outside were many youths who sought for fresh air, so one thought. One observed that prayers for the nation were uttered by just a few of the worshippers, while personal intercessions for breakthroughs in the coming year disturbed the heavenly hosts. After such ‘God bless me, my business and family’ prayers, only few took interest in what the service delivered, as eyes were glued to the clock.
A minute to twelve, the drama began. All youths who were outside moved into the church and began the count down. As the Clock clicked the beginning of the new year, there was jubilation, hasty prayers, congratulatory handshakes and five minutes later, 75% of the worshippers had vanished. All wanted the New Year meet them in ‘God’s presence’, while only few waited to hear and pledge allegiance to the demands of character change. What a hypocrisy.
Just like it happened on the New Year’s Eve, so is the same in the daily lives of Nigerians. Whenever brewers of alcoholic beverages declare their huge profits, people often wondered who consumed their products in our highly religious country. Churches are building more than a hundred thousand capacity auditorium and hold four services in a day, while Mosques are also filled to overflows on Fridays, yet the corruption index keeps soaring? Who are these sinners?
o religion promotes man’s inhumanity to another in their tenets, so ‘from whence comes the wars, the cheatings, the brutalities, maladministration and wickedness?”. Given the population of religious adherents in Nigeria, in comparison to the avowed atheists and free thinkers, Nigeria should have been one of the holiest, crime free, developed, safest and most loving countries in the world. On the contrary, meetings are commenced with prayers, lies are told throughout the meetings, closing prayers end the meeting held by religious people.
Political office holders hold thanksgiving services for being (s)elected into offices, swear by the holy books to serve in truth and honesty only to plunder the peoples’ commonwealth, take loans in our names for personal aggrandizement and dole out crumbs to few praise singers. When yours truly conducted an interview with Mrs. Sheila Solarin, the wife of Dr Tai Solarin (the avowed late atheist and social critic), our discussion bordered on the issue of religion.
hen was one surprised to note that the atheist had a Bible in his study. She however made me to realise that the Bible was a character moulding manual and God was included to make man conform. She rhetorically asked me to interrogate the irony that religious adherents in Nigeria did not practice what was in the Bible, while they as atheists do. She concluded that service to humanity is the highest form of spirituality, if the spiritual actually exists. Then, one was too young to grasp the meaning of her submissions, but it is clearer now. The reality is that Nigeria has more religion adherents, who love their God for themselves, but have a perfect hatred for humanity, and thus the country and establishments.
Great nations of the world have traced their development to the adherence to a creed, or as one would call it, religion. China traces here development and giant strides in global politics to the teachings of Confucius, Taoism and of course the guiding light of Buddha. The true teachings of their martial arts are the development of man’s trinity in the use of the force of nature, that is, earth, fire, water and wind to protect humanity, defend the kingdom and serve the nation.
he founding fathers of the United States of America hinged their creed on the Bible and upholds it as the guiding light for their actions and inactions. Within that context, man as the creation of God becomes a sacred entity that must be protected, provided for and given the fullest opportunity, through freedom, to attain his highest potential. The greatness of the United Arab Emirates is hidden in the belief that Islam as religion is meant for the empowerment and development of Allah’s creation, chief of whom, is the human. Therefore, given its proper place, religion could actually become a force of change and development.
Hypocritical Nigerians have however used religion as an opium, manipulator and subversion of the human destiny. It has become a weapon of control, subjugation and derailment of the human soul. Now, leaders at all levels twist the holy books and interpreted such to promote their inhumanity towards their neighbours and followers. Unfortunately for us, when religion is injected into any issue, substance is assassinated, and criminal acts are allowed. What if religious leaders refuse to proclaim blessings on political leaders that are preying on their people?
hat if filthy lucre is rejected as goodwill offerings? What if all adherents to one religion or the other would in this new year uphold and fulfill the desires of God towards humanity? All religions in Nigeria proclaim the eternal creed of ‘Love thy neighbor as yourself’, the non-practice remains of bane. When true service to humanity becomes the objective of our religions, corrupt practices would fade away; workers’ salaries would be paid on time and national funds would be invested for the greater good of all. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.