The separation of religion and state is the foundation of secularism. It ensures religious groups don’t interfere in affairs of state, and the state doesn’t interfere in religious affairs. The historic separation of the Church and the State as an immediate product of secularism informs the reality of secular state, a state without official religion. In political terms, secularism is a movement towards the separation of religion and government (often termed the separation of church and state).
Nigeria, through its pronouncements and constitution claims to be a secular State. It has also inherited religions from its colonial and enslavement of the past. However, what is mind-boggling is how this secularist is so selective that when it comes to choosing those who run the country we talk of Muslim-Muslim and Christian-Christian ticket! Why are these adopted practices influencing our choice of who we entrust with our destiny? Another rhetoric question is that of whether or not a Professor that is neither a Christian, Muslim or animist is less intellectual than a Professor of the Christian or Islamic faith?
Nigeria has a secular constitution but Nigeria is a religious state. Secularism and religionism are a mentality not an institution or a write up on some paper and Nigerians are religious in the mind. No wonder we operate even our secular institution with religiousity. it is highly disturbing that every national discuss takes a religious dimension as opposed to what we feign to practice as enshrined in the constitution. We no longer treat matters based on their merits and their values to further the course of these nation but on a fine line of faith that only brings disunity in a multi-religious society like ours.
We are Africans and Nigerians, with our traditions and culture just like the other ancient people’s of China, Japan, India etc yet we are prepared to jettison our being for impositions from Europe and the Middle East. Are we so comfortable with slavery and insecure in ourself? If two competent people are of the same faith (which is a personal thing) and they have complementary capabilities to run the affairs of our State, why must they not be allowed to do it? If people decide democratically that they want to give them that chance to lead them should the common denominator not be that they are Nigerians that are passionate about the country and service to their people?
I opine that it is intellectually inferior to conclude on untested hypothesis, namely, that two people of the same religious persuasion would act to mainly favour people of their sect. This to me is underpinned by the assumption that two politicians are likely to have the same conviction and act the same way. What we have witnessed in the last seven years is a tacit proof that a Muslim-Christian ticket can also lead to the types of appointments and inaction against evil that we all anticipate or fear. Its becoming glaring by the day that we are matching towards a bleak future with these religiously motivated agitation to champion political ambitions and incessant security concerns.
I think the concept of a political leadership that is wrapped in distribution in accordance to colonial doctrine is intellectually daft and unhelpful. It has the potential to continue to lead us astray and deny us of the combination of the numbers 1 and 2 citizens of the country. A Buddhist, Muslim, animist would never run the Vatican and neither would a Christian, Buddhist or Animist run Saudi Arabia? We need to relegate the influence of religion in our politics.
Furthermore, Nigerians through the Abiola-Kingibe ticket have demonstrated their political maturity. They voted preferentially for that ticket giving it mandate to run the country. I am therefore still pondering on the question of why any one especially aspiring leaders of Nigeria would call against any duo combination going to ask Nigerians for the opportunity to serve them.
On the other hand, good governance is the process of measuring how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources and guarantee the realization of human rights in a manner essentially free of abuse and corruption and with due regard for the rule of law. Fostering accountability, decision makers are held accountable for their actions. This means that public decisions should be reported on and explained, and that there is a system in place which ensures that decision makers face consequences in case of maladministration or discriminatory actions.
Conclusively, it should be noted that the views expressed here are of strong national interest, we should not allow “self-seeking individuals” to continue with their manipulative tendencies either through ethnic consideration or religious bigotry. Also, a multiethnic and multi-religious country like Nigeria can only survive if it hold unto secular practices and tenets. To want otherwise is tantamount to a call for disunity. This is the only route to nationhood and growth. Arise and shine Nigeria. Arise and shine Nigeria.
ARISE ‘O COMPATRIOTS
Richard Odusanya is a Social Reform Crusader and the convener of AFRICA COVENANT RESCUE INITIATIVE ACRI