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Whither Nigeria’s Secularism?- By Nafata Bamaguje

Source: huhuonline.com

Section 10 of our 1999 constitution clearly prohibits Federal and

state governments from adopting any state religion. Section 38 further

guarantees every citizen the freedom of religion. If a recent news

report is anything to go by, Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba is

unaware of the latter constitutional provision that guarantees every

Nigerian freedom of religion.
He is reported to have suspended some staff of Taraba Government house

for not attending compulsory prayers. When did it become the business

of government to enforce religious prayers or rituals on the

citizenry? Even Danbaba's reverend predecessor knew better than such

misguided religious zealotry that infringes on constitutional rights

of Nigerians.
This is the same warped illogic that informed the atrocious expulsion

of 4000 law abiding citizens from the Dar ul Islam commune in Niger

state for the grievous offence - according to state police

commissioner Mike Zuokuomour as reported in Daily Trust of 16th Aug'

2009 - of “violating the preaching act of Niger state as their mode of

worship contradicted that of the state”. I had no idea it is the

business of a supposedly secular government to dictate how people

should worship.
It used to be the Sharia Northern states that flagrantly violated our

supposedly secular constitution. But since the complicit Federal

government was unable to put its foot down and decisively deal with

the Sharia menace, the unsavoury practice of government intrusion in

religion has spread down South.
I understand Governor Ikedi Ohakim has transformed Imo government

house into some sort of church. In Enugu under the erstwhile Nnamani

administration a political dichotomy emerged between Catholic and

other Christians.

Donald Duke the ex-Cross River governor organized Christmas carnivals

with state funds. He even declared public holiday for the whole month

of December in celebration of Christmas. At the time I could not help

but wonder at such crass idiocy, as not even the Sharia governors of

the core North have declared public holiday for the fasting month of

Ramadan.
The sad irony of it all is that the pretentious religiosity of our

leaders does not translate to good governance. On the contrary they

have collectively ruined this potentially nation. Ex-President OBJ

reportedly emerged from prison a born-again Christian but his 8-year

maladministration was rife with vindictiveness, fraud, ineptitude and

atrocities in Odi & Zaki Biam.
The “evil genius” whose religious fervor motivated him to smuggle

Nigeria into OIC, elevated corruption to new heights and unrepentantly

truncated our best attempt at democracy setting the nation in a

tumultuous tailspin from which we are yet to recover.

While Abacha was siphoning the nation's coffers to Swiss banks, he

attended mosque regularly and would be pictured by our news media in

the front row of Muslim prayer-ground during Islamic Eid festivities.

What more, his sexual debauchery with Indian prostitutes cost him his

life.

Ahmed Sani Yerima, the ex-Zamfara governor was probably the worst

example of religious hypocrisy in our so-called leaders. He started

the Sharia agitation in the current dispensation and amputated

Jangebe's hand for stealing a goat, but Sani himself was later

indicted by EFCC for fleecing Zamfara…which the former EFCC boss

decried as “direct stealing.”
Up here in the core North, state governments build and maintain

mosques, pay Islamic clerics, pay for pilgrimage to Mecca, operate

numerous Arabic colleges whose sole purpose is to perpetuate the

mental enslavement of our people to the violently intolerant,

spiritually bankrupt Arab hate cult (Islam); as well as run a network

of Sharia courts which unfortunately are recognized by our seriously

defective, contradictory and ambivalent constitution.

Contradictory and ambivalent because the same constitution that

proclaims secularism in Section 10, also provides for state and

federal (FCT) government-run Sharia courts in sections 244 & 247. A

secular government has no business running Sharia or other religious

courts. Sharia arbitration between consenting Muslims should be

out-of-court settlement, not part of government-run secular judiciary.

This is particularly so as Sharia with its male Muslim bias and cruel

barbaric punishments is inconsistent with constitutional provisions on

gender equality, religious non-discrimination and prohibition of

inhuman punishment.
Then there is the unsavory Judicial divide in the country – Common law

in the South, Penal code in the North – ostensibly because of

religious differences. After almost 50 years of independence, if we

are truly one nation, it's about time we abrogate the Judicial divide

and replace it with a secular National Judicial system based on the

values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which

Nigeria is signatory, rather than on any bogus alien pseudo-religion

that is at odds with modernity.
In a country like ours divided by two mutually antagonistic intolerant

alien creeds (Islam, Christianity), secularism is essential to promote

the unity required for nationhood. Government involvement in the

propagation of these antagonistic alien religions accentuates our

religious divide and encourages the bigotry that sometimes erupts in

religious violence.
It is no surprise therefore that the Islamic North where government is

heavily involved in religion frequently erupts in violence. The Boko

Haram insurrection for an Islamic state has its root in the invidious

agitation for Sharia by Northern leaders who should know better than

whip up religious sentiments in a multi-religious nation like Naija.

Although today's northern leaders commonly eulogize the late Northern

Premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello, they refuse to learn from his example of

de-emphasizing religion in governance in order to promote inclusive

equality and unity of all northerners regardless of creed.

Politically, the late Sardauna was more powerful than any governor

today yet he never imposed the retrogressive limb-amputating,

stoning-to-death, misogynistic Sharia, northern Islamists are now

clamouring for.
Throughout the country government funds are spent brainwashing our

children in public schools with the bogus alien dogmas (Christianity &

Islam) that demonize and disparage our indigenous African heritage as

“pagan”, “heathen”, “idolatry”, “Kafir”; while teaching them to

glorify alien races (Jews & Arabs).
With such widespread mis-education that breeds inferiority complex

(albeit subconscious), it is no surprise we Africans are

developmentally stunted. Meaningful development isn't just about

providing roads, uninterrupted electricity supply or pipe-borne water.

It is also about the right cultural orientation that enables us to

realize our full potential for greatness as a nation.

This is why a country like Saudi Arabia with all the modern amenities

oil money can buy, is not considered developed. They can never hope to

become a technological giant like Japan, Germany, USA or South Korea.

So long as they prefer to waste valuable petrodollars trying to prove

there is science in the Quran, instead of promoting the civil

liberties and intellectual freedom that are indispensable for

scientific & technological advancement.
But then technological advancement isn't their priority…that's what we

infidels are for. For them it is much more important to go to

Al-Jannah (Islamic heaven) and screw virgins, which is what their

entire society is structured for. As the largest Black nation with a

lot of promise, whom other Africans on the continent and in diaspora

should look up to, we cannot afford such ludicrous wet dreams of

heavenly sex as our guiding national ethos.
Of the three major races (Caucasians, Mongoloids, Negroids), only we

Negroids are yet to produce a developed nation. And it is not

unconnected with our cultural subservience to other races. Even

countries like Ghana, Namibia, Botswana which are often touted as

Africa's shining stars, are less than mediocre by world standards.

Granted that these African nations are much better than a

dysfunctional failed nation like Nigeria, but they are still a far cry

from where we Black Africans should be given our abundant natural

resources.
At independence in 1957, Ghana was better off than South Korea in all

major economic indices - GDP, income per capita, literacy rate etc.

But today South Korea is a technological giant having leapt from third

world to first world, while Ghana even though much richer in natural

resources (Gold, Bauxite, Manganese, Cocoa) than South Korea, remains

in the mediocre African third world.
As for my Arab wannabe compatriots up here in the North who are

completely bereft of what it means to be proudly African; if we are to

copy any people, it should not be the religiously intolerant Arabs who

despite their oil wealth are technologically backward and averse to

democracy. Arabs have nothing positive to offer we Africans.

It's the technologically advanced Japanese we should emulate. They

retain the essence of their indigenous culture, and with only 120

million people have emerged the world's second largest economy despite

lacking mineral resources and arable land, and being regularly

assaulted by natural disasters – earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis.

With its numerous shrines and ancestral deities, the Japanese Shinto

religion is quite similar to traditional African spirituality; thereby

debunking the misleading canard popular here in Black Africa that we

have to abandon our indigenous culture, and mindlessly ape Arabs and

Jews in other to develop.

On the contrary our cultural roots are indispensable for achieving

greatness as a nation. A tree without roots to derive nourishment from

the soil cannot grow well. We have no future if we continue to reject

our past.

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