Man is a religious being. And political too. He holds both aspects of him with passion. There is a thin line between the two.
Religion involves the relationship between human being and the supernatural, the ultimate being. It discusses incorporeal. Politics involves the relationship among human beings. It involves earthly affairs, corporeal matters.
Since religion discusses celestial, transformation of man from finite to eternity, from mortality to immortality, man is therefore very passionate about religion. Sometimes, he applies little or no reason on religious affairs, that is, any idea or enterprise that has religious connection.
It is difficult to control religious sentiment. It is usual but not proper for a human being to believe that his religion or faith is better than the other person’s. That his system of belief is approved by God while his next-door neighbor’s is inferior or could even lead to hell.
With this idea, it becomes toxic, a disservice to bring religion carelessly into politics. This is exactly the situation in Nigeria right now.
Nigeria has two major religions, Islam and Christianity. Islam entered the geographical space before Christianity. Indeed, after a few centuries of the founding of Islam in Saudi Arabia, it flourished in the north west of Africa, including the present-day northern Nigeria.
Islam came to the region through trans-Saharan trade route by Arabs. Christianity was introduced to the place by Europeans through water, Atlantic Ocean. Hence their first port of call was the south of the country. Southern part of the country shares border with the ocean.
The first attempt by the white missionaries in the last quarter of the fifteenth century wasn’t successful till much later in the eighteenth century. Thereupon, Christianity flourished in the south of Nigeria.
Colonial masters, British, interfered in the spread of Christianity in the country. They didn’t allow Christian evangelizers access to the north of the country. It was not really done to protect Islam. Rather, this colonial policy was politically motivated. It was done to please the northern Muslims and curry their favor against the Southerners since they were discovered to be more docile and pliable to the colonialists’ antics than the latter.
Most of the fiscal programs ran by the colonialists were skewed against the South in favor of the North. This is part of the reason why Nigeria doesn’t have accurate population census till today. The Independence election of 1959 was heavily manipulated in favor of the North.
A northern Muslim, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, was made the Prime Minister. In 1966, there was a military takeover and civil crisis that lasted up until 1970. In 1975, the government of Yakubu Gowon, a Christian military officer from the Middle Belt was toppled by a Northern Muslim military officer. From 1979 – 1999, the governance of the country was all Northern Muslim affairs whether military or civilian regime, including Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, December 1983 – August 1985.
They took advantage of their stranglehold on government to make policies that favored the North and its Islamic culture. This includes the review of the nation’s constitution at various times.
Since Buhari was removed from power in 1985 by a fellow Northern military officer, he has been trying to return to the government house as a civilian. Nobody knew that he had ulterior motive. Although the person who toppled his military government accused him of religious bigotry and ethnic chauvinism, Nigerian public did not understand it.
He ran for the president many times and failed. Indeed, in 2015, he threatened to form a parallel government should he lose the election. President Goodluck Jonathan generously conceded defeat and ceded power to him.
From 2015, hell was let loose. His hidden agenda was no longer hidden. He started by making solely Northern Muslims his aides. The service chiefs were not left out. His brand of nepotism was practiced without hindrance. The national police chief and election commission chairman were all from the North and the same religion with him. He made a known Islamic jihadist a federal minister. In spite of the public outcry against the lopsided appointments, he stood his ground and refused to change. He even made himself minister of petroleum the main source of revenue for the country. The country has never been so badly treated. There is no longer any merit or due process.
During one of his failed presidential ambitions, he said he would make the country ungovernable for the winner. At this point, Boko Haram which was at its formative stage was fortified. He further warned that any attack on the terrorist group was an attack on the North and Islam.
Thus, Nigeria became one of the most terrorized countries in the world. Islamic insurgency festered and more groups were added to their ranks; Fulani Herdsmen, Fulani Bandits, Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP. Since the purported murder of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria by ISWAP recently, the leader of ISIS in Syria has merged the two groups and taken over the command of all the jihadist groups in the country. He accused Shekau of being highhanded against his commanders and not doing the real job properly. He has appointed a new commander for the Islamic insurgents in Nigeria.
Right now, there is almost total breakdown of law and order in Nigeria. In the North, it is Islamic terrorists. In the South, there are secessionist groups and armed kidnapers. The situation has created mayhem in the region and brought about undesirable increase in crimes. Government security agents kill people recklessly and unknown armed men take revenge on the police, kill them and raze their stations.
The President has turned Nigeria into a one-party country. State governors throughout the nation are being forced to join the ruling party. Any governor who refuses to join the president’s party is handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for prosecution based on trumped up evidence. This is part of his Islamization method. To install stooges in various states especially in the South who will take instructions from him and punish their people severely who dare stand up against his Islamization agenda.
The chaotic situation in the country is an obvious consequence of political incompetence by Buhari’s administration badly spiced with his religious bigotry and ethnic bias. No country can have peace and progress with this type of leadership.