Religiousity And Tribalism; The Elephants In The Room
On the night of the 15th of September, public opinion was thrown into turmoil when it emerged that plans were underway to relocate the Presidential Chapel, a Christian place of worship from its original position in view of the fact that it posed a security risk by being too close to the President’s bedroom. The uproar was instant, with lots of views leaning towards the fact that this was one of the fears when a Muslim president was elected.
While protests were muted, the fact that the previous Muslim president, Umar Yar’adua did not mind the proximity was re-echoed, with people blaming the decision on the advice of “bad aides” and eventually plans of relocation were suspended. The arguments surrounding the relocation of a chapel can be read in the same light as the claims that the President has appointed too many Northerners. Unfortunately both arguments reflect shortsighted approaches to the crux of the situation – the end justifies the means. The fact that the location of the church was deemed a security risk appears to have been overlooked in the clamour is in the same boat with the fact that credentials were overlooked as people screamed blue murder on President Buhari’s appointments.
Religiousity and tribal sentiments on the statistics of general/national improvement have done nothing good for the Nigerian populace as its recent economic and internal governmental woes continue to grow. From the Civil War to the various tribal and religious wars spilling from the Northern part of the country to the Southern areas, the religion and tribe have simply formed a larger basis of the Nigerian problem. A suggestion of key reforms that would be entrenched in the constitution has fallen on deaf ears over the past decade and the much-awaited National conference was a monumental waste of time and resources as implementation of weak policies suggested are far from a reality – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The general polity must shift focus from the mundane to the important. Religion remains and will always be a personal conviction and in no way must be seen to altercate key issues such as security. At most, it is a guide and quite brutally put – nothing more.
The weekly complaints of the Ndi-Igbo community regarding a perceived non-inclusion in government and an extensive argument that the recent NNPC chief, Emmanuel Kachikwu isn’t “Igbo enough”, is proof that the tribal sentiments while deeply entrenched in the country’s social consciousness is a quite pointless one.
The level of mental upheaval needed to change the general consciousness of Nigerians is one that requires time that the country can simply not afford. With no ministers appointed, a dwindling foreign reserve, volatile markets and declining commodity prices, Nigeria has far more interesting problems than the “feelings” of a few Nigerians.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal case involving the country’s senate president was proof that the road to recovery is long and bumpy. While religious and tribal animosity certainly represents the elephants in the Nigerian room, they are ignorable at this stage. Far too much relevance has been accorded to these issues and far less results have been achieved. Simply put – you cannot please everyone.
With Singapore as a possible working model for the future of the Nigerian state, more emphasis and effort must be applied to connecting Nigerians on common grounds outside tribe and religion, economic progress and more positive national outlook must be placed in the consciousness of Nigerians.
Only then can we be seen to move forward outside the sphere of issues so unbelievably trivial. The Nigerian dream is one that unifies large aspects of the polity. If the Sub-Saharan Africa’s juggernaut is to remain relevant then this common point must remain relevant beyond the words etched in this article.