The inability of religion to keep mute in some sensitive political matters of the nation has become the bane of our modern-day democracy. Taking a look at our political arena, religion seems to be playing a pivotal role in the sequencing of our political events, including the unfavourable ones and at the same time serving as a compass for navigating the nation's political ship.
The political divide between the northern and southern regions of the country is not just because of tribal, language or cultural differences but has more to do with religious beliefs. As majority of the northerners are muslims that embraced the islamic religion, the south mainly houses the christians. These major religions give little or no recognition for other existing religions.
The political tug of war existing between the north and south is a clear indication of the religious sentiments and reflection of the supremacy tussle among different religious groups. Suprisingly, within the larger religious groups are smaller ones with diverse beliefs and opinions which have also affected their interests and support.
For instance, within Islam is the Boko Haram sect with beliefs that are quite different and strange when compared with that of most muslims. In the same vein, christendom has orthodox and pentecostal churches with miscellaneous convictions and dogmas. Others claim that they don't belong to the above mentioned groups though. Among the orthodox and even christianity generally, the Roman Catholic seems to be 'dominating', obviously due to their intimidating population. But for recently, the orthodox churches have been in the helm of affairs in our religious organisations and will only relinquish power to other denominations whenever they wished to do so.
Being a game of numbers,politics make the camp with the greater population of supporters to clinch power as long as they want, provided they put up structures to increase the number of their supporters. Religious bodies have become political in this sense, taking advantage of their population and supporting one of their own, whether qualified or not.
In a situation where a man of a particular religion is permitted to marry up to 80 wives who are obligated to incubale and manufacture children for him increases geometrically, the other man that can only marry one wife will not increase as such, creating a great disparity in their numerical strengths. This probably paints the picture of a muslim and christian respectively.
The just concluded presidential election was more of religious than political. The three muslim candidates in their different political parties(CPC,ACN and ANPP) actually contested against the christian candidate of PDP. Buhari's decision to run with Pastor Bakare was to enable him get the votes of some christians. Being an ardent muslim, he saw the need to garner the support of some southerners by choosing Pastor Tunde as his running mate. That was also the case with Jonathan's choice of Sambo and many others.
In Kaduna, the trend is the same; the muslim north and christian south are in continuous tussle for political relevance and supremacy. Even in the eastern states, it is either a fight between Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, or orthodox and pentecostal or even between two orthodox or pentecostal churches.
Directly or indirectly, the impact of these differences keep manifesting, ranging from slight threats or intimation to vocal battles and even to violent life-threatening crisis that can lead to massive loss of lives and destruction of property.
The pre-election bomb blasts and post-election mayhem is just a good example of what I've been discussing. The bomb blasts, destruction of lives and property, including the murder of members of the NYSC(who are supposed to be sacred cows) are mainly due to religious sentiments. The vice-president's house in Kaduna was razed by some irate youths, probably because he supported our president-elect's victory and that made him a rebel among some muslim faithfuls.
The social unrest that followed the presidential elections in the north wouldn't have been just political. Churches were burnt, christians were killed and belongings of christians destroyed.
Even the army, the police and other security operatives in the country have not refused to be biased as they continue to sentimentally discharge their duties. Loyalty and respect for ones own religion is important, but the careful neglect of the constitutional rights of people of other religions is unacceptable, as this has only caused for us, more harm than good.
The chronic religious crisis in Plateau State, precisely Jos has gone so bad that no one knows whether the end of it has come. The chronicity of the crisis shows a kind of religious vendetta eating deep into the people of the state. Measures put on ground to eradicate such violent attacks in the city only manages to momentarily curb its spread.
It is high time we recognized and maintained the slim but important line of demarcation between politics and religion. Religions in our country claim not to preach nor practise violence but peace, while the actions of most of their members completely deny such. Religious leaders should liberate themselves from the impact of this ugly trend and try as much as possible to do same to their members.
Though the place of religion in politics cannot be overemphasized, both being inseparable, our interests should only be based on tangible things and not mere sentiments.