Whither Nigeria’s Secularism?- By Nafata Bamaguje
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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