Despite being the giant of Africa, Nigeria is a nation that is widely known for its religious affiliation. There are so many religious divides in this country of over 150 million people. Though highly dominated by the Christians and the Muslims, Nigeria’s nationhood hangs on a balance. This diversity in religion is one of the things that constitute a major threat to the country in taking positive steps towards attaining nationhood.
Divergent opinions emanating from different religious quarters have for so many years held the nation at a standstill. This has made so many people to see religion as the greatest enemy of Nigeria’s potential nationhood. Nigeria cannot truly be called a nation when one religion out of the lot will aspire to dictatorship in secular matters. Without subscribing to the notion that “a theocratic order is anathema to nation building”, it is important to understand that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and the nation whose God is GOD is a progressive nation. A secular order that is in line with God’s standard can embrace all. Secularity without God is a disaster. When God is sidelined and the people do their own things, progress will never be achieved.
It will not be enough to posit that religion MUST submit to community, to nation, so as to facilitate human co-existence. Without religion, the whole world would have been in flames. When I speak about religion, I speak about the knowledge of the true GOD. I say this because, I see that there are religious followings that evoke parallel but opposing sets of protocols, citing the authority of some unseen and unknowable gods in realms that have no perceptible contact with the actual. Testimonies abound in so many places where the worship of the true GOD, the Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, brought about total transformation of people. People who in times past have been living in brutishness, now reverts to love and care for one another.
Through the fear and worship of the true GOD, Nigeria has a chance or space of attaining nationhood. The big problem facing us now is the attitude of some people who blend politics with religion thereby making co-existence to become impossible, reverting human entity to its former state of brutishness. Religion began in Israel the day when God spoke to Abraham, telling him to leave his land and his family home to a new country. God promise to make Abraham the founder of a great nation, and without doubting, Abraham took God at His word and followed Him.
So the very first and most basic belief of the Jewish and Christian religion is the certainty that God is a real person, and that human beings – individually or a group – can know Him. Through Abraham’s grandson Jacob (renamed Israel), the history of Israel as a nation began, and through the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham, the family and nation that came from the stock of Abraham became God’s people. He proved this when He rescued the children of Israel from the Egyptian bondage, meeting their needs for food and water and cared for them in spite of their rebellions.
As time went on, there arose divergent opinions and other developments in the last centuries before Christ. It was a time when the Law was studied, and extended, as never before. And during this time various religious and political groups sprang up. There were the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes – in the New Testament. Other sects nit mentioned had tremendous effect on the Jewish religious ‘climate’ of the New Testament times. Their actions and teaching of religious observances (a matter of ritual) affected the progress of their nation greatly. Their religious patterns were not matched by right behaviour. This annoyed God and He dealt with them severely. God categorically stated that the nation that forsakes God shall be turned into hell, together with all its inhabitants. When we follow the ways of God, things go well with us, but when we abandon God, we risk calamity.
Nigeria as a nation should however learn from history. Righteousness is what exalts a nation and its people, but when SIN is introduced, the nation and its people are reproached. When any nation allows a group of disorderly people to dictate the tune of its government in the name of religion, trouble is about to begin. So many atrocities have taken place in Nigeria in the name of religion. The truth of the matter is that no religion, in the context of that word ‘religion’ will ever tolerate evil. “Pseudo” is the right word, and when you hear people complain about evil in the cover of religion, be careful to know where those actions belong.