Islamic star and crescent decoration at the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 in Lagos underscores Islamic privilege and officially discriminates against Nigerians from other faiths and no faith traditions. The decoration violates the secular character of the Nigerian constitution and negates the equality of religious and nonreligious Nigerians before the law. It indicates that Nigeria has become a de facto Islamic republic.
Humanists are concerned about creeping Islamization of the country, and the slow transformation of Nigeria into an Islamic theocracy. Nigeria's main religions, especially Christianity, and Islam, enjoy enormous privilege and political support despite the secular intent of the constitution. Section 10 of the constitution prohibits state religions, stipulating that no part of the federation or state should adopt any religion as the official religion. This section outlaws state support, sponsorship, or promotion of any faith. But in practice, the Nigerian government is seldom neutral.
This secular constitutional provision has brazenly been ignored. It has flagrantly been violated by the government as demonstrated in the Islamic decoration of the Lagos airport during this festive season. Look, this year, the Christian events of Lent and Easter, and the Muslim month of Ramadan coincided. Christians and Muslims are celebrating at this period of the year. But the government chose to decorate the Murtala Muhammad Airport 2 with a star and crescent. Both star and crescent are icons and symbols of political Islam. They are emblems of Islamic republic. Humanists are not against any religious or secular decorations.
Humanists urge that such decorations follow the constitution. The government could choose to be neutral by not decorating state airports and offices with any religious symbols. It could also decorate state offices and structures to accommodate all religious and irreligious icons and symbols.
Leo Igwe is a board member of the Humanist Association of Nigeria