Nigeria and the banana peels of religious bigotry

Kenechukwu Obiezu

Kenechukwu Obiezu

A quartet of seemingly unconnected events have swept through Nigeria in the last  couple of months to compel the compilation of urgent questions about Nigeria`s unity vis-à-vis its status as a secular country.

Heinous attacks On May 12, 2022, Deborah Samuel, a 200-level Home Economics Student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State was burnt to her death when an irate mob accused her of blasphemy against  Islam.

On June 4, 2022, at the Federal Housing Authority in Lugbe, Abuja, a thirty-year-old security man was burnt to his death after he was also alleged to have blasphemed against Islam.

In April 2022, Hannah Saliu, a commercial sex worker was beaten and burnt to death in Lagos State by one of her patrons and his friends after one of her patrons whom she accused of stealing from her found a Quran in her room. On finding the  Quran, the man who had gone to patronize a commercial sex worker and was presumed to be a thief also became the murderer who cast the first stone.

On June 8, Nigeria`s ruling party the All Progressives Congress concluded its national convention with Mr. Ahmed Bola Tinubu emerging as the presidential flagbearer of the party in the general elections scheduled for next year. The conversation has since  moved to the question of who he will pick as running mate, throwing up the possibility of a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

The fires of fanatism

As these seemingly disconnected events which are however connected by the thread of religion have raged, the publicly stated positions of some persons who by their positions are influential in the society have  been noteworthy.

On the back of the gruesome murder of Ms. Deborah, Ibrahim Maqari, the Deputy Chief Imam of the National Mossque in Abuja was besides himself in practically applauding the killers for maintaining the honour of their faith, while starkly warning that there were redlines embedded in Islam. In many other countries, he would have since  lost his job at the national mosque.

In Bauchi State, Aliyu Tilde, the commissioner in charge of education in the state, chided Ms. Deborah Samuel for causing her own death while recommending psychiatric evaluation for those who would not be sufficiently provoked by her words.

Also, at hand to respond to the question of striking a religious balance in the country by eschewing a Christian-Christian or a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the leadership of the country come 2023 are many politicians of the ruling All Progressives Congress, many of them Muslims, who have argued that at this juncture, Nigeria should concern itself more with the questions of competence over the religious affiliations of the leadership of the country.

 Creed, convenience and competence.

It would however appear that many of those who have argued that a Muslim-Muslim ticket  would be in the  best interest of the country provided  the bearers are competent, and those who  directly or indirectly endorse the killings of others in the name of religion, would choose convenience over competence and even  creed.

The mouth competence only when they have done their calculations and find that the odds absolutely favour them. Nigeria`s diversity has been steadily threatening to become deadly to the aspirations of the country. That it has become a distraction is no longer in doubt.

That Nigeria`s diversity has become diversionary to its potentials is indicative of the quality of the jobs done by those entrusted with managing it. Unfortunately for the Giant of Africa, there are many of those who would hide their bigotry behind fig leaves.

Unless such people are kept away from inciting others in the name of educating them, Nigeria will  remain in a bind.

Kene Obiezu,

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