Posted by News Express | 14 March 2014 | 3,471 times
Practitioners of African Religion in Nigeria have totally rejected the list of Delegates to the National Conference as presently constituted.
It is deplorable, unthinkable and clearly unacceptable that the largest and most populous African nation on Earth can openly ignore and reject the participation of African Religion while embracing the two other religions.
Not only does this decision openly and frontally assault the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution, it is also demeaning and self-abnegating. It further reinforces the shaky and unworkable, neo-colonial foundation on which this barely 100-year old Nigerian Nation was built.
By this singular, deliberate act of omission, we make bold to say that the futile end result of the Conference is certain because anything built on pretence, self-deceit and hypocrisy cannot and will not stand.
How can Nigeria pretend that only Muslims and Christians populate this country? How can our Government(s) (with the exception of a few) blatantly succumb to entrenched neo-colonial Arab and Jewish religious interests to the exclusion of its large African population? How did the nation come about the fake and fraudulent statistics that Nigeria is made up of 50% Muslims and 50% Christians? Who carried out the bogus enumeration?
Nigeria lives in self-deceit and wallows in hypocrisy.
There are four clear realities in the socio-religious space of Nigeria. The first is that Nigeria is neither a Muslim nor a Christian nation. Rather, Nigeria is an African nation whose citizens practice three religions, namely: African religion, Muslim religion and Christian religion. Our Governments must therefore reflect this reality in all their policies.
This official pretence, hypocrisy and self-deceit are reflected in the composition of the National Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) which is made up only of Muslims and Christians to the deliberate exclusion of African Religion.
A second reality is that a significant majority of Nigerian Muslims and Christians practice syncretism, whereby they overlay their religions on a substratum of African Religion.
Let me restate, for the avoidance of doubt, that African Religion is neither envious of, nor at war with our Muslim and Christian Compatriots. African Religion simply seeks to be placed on the same pedestal as the two foreign religions.
The Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly outlaws the state sponsorship or promotion of any religion. Sadly today, the Federal, State and Local Governments (with the exception of Osun State) openly sponsor Islam and Christianity as weapons of mass deception and tools of political manipulation. Political appointments are made, not on individual merit, but to appease entrenched religious interests. Billions of taxpayers’ funds are spent to sponsor Muslims and Christians to the sources of their colonial religions in total abnegation of African Religion and Spirituality. Rather than engender religious harmony, governments have inadvertently promoted socio-religious mistrust, friction, strife and disharmony.
The third reality is that, in spite of pretentions to the contrary, several millions of Nigerians neither go to mosques or churches, but instead practise African Religion in a quiet and unobtrusive manner. A great irony in all these is that these Muslims and Christians daily consult practitioners of African Religion for physical, spiritual and political assistance. Yet, they openly deny the relevance of African Religion in their lives!
The fourth reality is that in African Religion today, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of highly educated practitioners, believers and followers from all walks of life (Engineers, Doctors, Academics, politicians and other professionals). These are Africans who, in the words of Professor Wole Soyinka, have not been prenatally injected with the hormones of subservience and colonial servitude.
For instance, Professor Wande Abimbola was a Vice-Chancllor of Obafemi Awolowo University, a former Senator of the Federal Republic and former Presidential Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo. Also, Professor Wole Soyinka, the first Black Nobel Laureate, is neither Christian nor Muslim but a believer in African Spirituality. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo once urged a resort to the use of African Spirituality to defeat Apartheid in South Africa.
Indeed, is there any state, local government or village in Nigeria in which African Religion is not practised? Yet, entrenched colonial interests collude to exclude African Religion from the socio-political and religious space in Nigeria. A nation that so blatantly deceives itself puts its continued existence in mortal danger.
As part of this entrenched neo-colonial conspiracy, it is worthy of note that our own president, President Goodluck Jonathan, in his Media Chat a fortnight ago, studiously evaded the question of the exclusion of African Religion at the Conference. Also our appeals routed through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation went unheeded.
In conclusion, we note that, as in several instances of life, when entrenched Conscienceless Power confronts Powerless Conscience, the former laughs first, the latter laughs last. We are clearly confident that practitioners of African Religion will laugh last in this matter and we eagerly await the outcome of the National Conference.
•Being text of a press statement released in Abuja and signed by Professor Idowu B. Odeyemi, President, International Council for Ifa Religion, entitled ‘African Religion Practitioners Reject the List of Delegates to the National Conference’. Photo shows National Conference Chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi.
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