National Confab: Ifa Worshippers Protest Exclusion, Express Pessimism On Outcome

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SAN FRANCISCO, March 13, (THEWILL) - As the National Conference being organised by the Federal Government prepares to open on Monday, practitioners of traditional African religion have passed a vote of no confidence on the conference, saying it won't produce the desired results.

Predicting that the national conference would amount to nothing and end in futility, the traditional religion worshippers maintained that anything built on pretence, self-deceit and hypocrisy cannot and will not stand.

Describing the exclusion of African Religion practitioners from the conference as not only unacceptable, deplorable and unthinkable but demeaning and self-abnegating, the President of International Council for Ifa Religion, Professor Idowu Odeyemi, said in Abuja on Wednesday that practitioners of African Religion in the country totally reject the list of delegates to the conference as presently constituted.

He maintained that the exclusion reinforced the shaky, unworkable and neo-colonial foundation on which the barely 100-year-old Nigerian nation was built.

Odeyemi said official pretence, hypocrisy and self-deceit were reflected in the composition of the National Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) which is made up of only Muslims and Christians to the deliberate exclusion of African Religion practitioners.

He however maintained that African Religion practitioners were neither envious of nor at war with their Muslim and Christian compatriots but were simply seeking to be placed on the same pedestal as others.

He said whereas the constitution clearly outlaws the state sponsorship or promotion of any religion, it is sad that the federal, state and local governments with the exception of Osun State openly sponsor only Muslims and Christians.

He described such discrimination as weapons of mass deception and tools of political manipulation.

He said political appointments in the country were made, not on individual merit, but to appease entrenched religious interests even as he alleged that billions of taxpayers' funds were spent to sponsor Muslims and Christians in total abnegation of African Religion and Spirituality.

He said rather than engender religious harmony, governments had inadvertently promoted socio-religious mistrust, friction, strife and disharmony.

According to Odeyemi, "In spite of pretentions to the contrary, several millions of Nigerians neither go to mosques or churches but instead practise African Religion in a quite and unobstructive manner "A great irony in all these is that these Muslims and Christians daily consult practitioners of African Religion for physical, spiritual and political assistance.

Yet, they openly deny the relevance of African Religion in their lives.

"Indeed, is there any state, local government or village in Nigeria in which African Religion is not practised? Yet, entrenched colonial interests collude to exclude African Religion from the socio-political and religious space in Nigeria.

A nation that so blatantly deceives itself puts its continued existence in mortal danger.

"As part of this entrenched neo-colonial conspiracy, it is worthy of note that our own president, President Goodluck Jonathan, in his media chat a fortnight ago, studiously evaded the question of the exclusion of African Religion at the conference.

Also our appeals routed through the office of the secretary to the government of the federation went unheeded "We note that, as in several instances of life, when entrenched conscienceless power confronts powerless conscience, the former laughs first, the latter laughs last.

We are clearly confident that practitioners of African Religion will laugh last in this matter and we eagerly await the outcome of the national conference.