FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeSaturday, December 5, 2015
eoeke@aol.com


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ON RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE AND ETHNIC HATRED

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s the agitation for Biafra grows, it would seem that the threat to the existence of Nigeria is the people protesting against marginalisation.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that the peaceful protest for Biafra by Igbo youth, who have borne the consequence of marginalisation and discrimination against Igbos, does not threaten the existence of Nigeria. What Igbos say loud and clear is that they can no longer accept the status quo that limits their rights and make them second class Nigerian citizens.

It is up to the government to offer a coherent and acceptable responses. A good, sensitive and honest government can easily take the oxygen out of the Biafran protest by addressing the marginalisation of Igbos and implementing even development agenda, which remove institutionalised discrimination and marginalisation of Igbos and give then a sense of belonging.

What really threatens the Nigerian nation is corruption and criminality of the ruling elites and, religious extremism of the type prevalent in North Nigeria, which has given rise to sharia Lawson the region and Boko Haram.

While the government can deal clinically with the danger the Biafran protest presents to the existence of Nigeria, it cannot do so with extreme Islam, which seeks to impose Islamic law in the country and introduce Islamic education in our schools. More so, when some people in important position share the dream of an Islamic Nigeria and are complacent in the attempt to actualise it. Therefore, the ball is squarely in Buhari's court and it is up to him and his advisers to produce a coherent and reasonable response.

What imperils the unity of Nigeria are:

  1. The continue effort by Saudi Arabia to export Sunni Wahab Islam to different parts of the world and Nigeria
  2. Terrorist activities of Boko Haram group.
  3. Continued refusal of the Nigerian state to expose those behind Boko Haram.
  4. The apparent inability of the Nigerian government to fight corruption across the board by institutional reforms and selective targeting of corrupt politicians .
  5. Corrupt and morally bankrupt judiciary.

The above would only embolden militant and extreme Islam, which will only become more intransigent and determined to impose its sectarian and primitive ideology on the whole of Nigeria as a cure for endemic corruption.

Therefore, Nigeria is a fertile ground for an Iraq type disintegration that has left its north in the hands of the Kurds and the rest of the country split between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

It is this sectarian, divisive and nasty type of Islam and the corruption of the elites that imperils the future of Nigeria. Sadly, the government continues to support the overt and convert Islamisation of Nigeria and protects some corrupt politicians because they are in the ruling party, Instead of taking the country towards secular democracy under the rule of law and, making education religiously neutral.

Why would any leader enlightened on nation building and multiethnic democracy, scheme to impose Islamic way of life on the entire country?

How can a leader claim to be honest when his associates are some of the most corrupt and morally bankrupt. One cannot help noticing the double standard which the government prosecutes its war against corruption and the difference between the way the Dasukis, and Tinubus, Sylvia's, Amaechis etc., are treated.

Why should any reasonable person think that imposing Islamic dress code in schools will enhance encompassing Nigerian identity, deepen democratic values and serve the cause of unity? Why would Buhari think that shooting unarmed Biafran protesters would bring peace and unity?

Nigerians need to wake up to the dangers of extreme Islam of the type being propagated in northern Nigeria and extolled by ISIS and Boko Haram. It provides a narrative for terror, discrimination and inhuman treatment of others. It is this extreme form of intolerant Islam, which claims to be right about God and justifies violence. Venerates barbarity and terror in His name that will bring an end to Nigeria.

Without confronting extreme Islam and exposing its ignorance, prejudice, aggression,intolerance, and use of subterfuge, Nigeria as one united country will fall apart under its strain.

All religions are problematic, especially, when they seek to use either political power or violence to achieve their objectives and arrogate to themselves the right to have the truth and condemn others. This problem seems is usually worse, when such religion gains power.

Today in our world, Islam presents the greatest danger to free society because of its rejection of gender equality, its intolerance of difference and determination to dominate. It teaches and justifies violence against others in the name of God because of who they are and what they believe. It also gives its adherents a narrative to justify brutality, and sadistic punishments for offence in the name of sharia law.

Yet it claims to be a religion of peace. It ascribed to itself the superior position of holding the truth and advocates inhuman and barbaric punishments, without redemptive value to those who break it laws.

No other religion portrays and paints such a suffocating and psychopathic picture of God. In extreme Islam of the type prevalent in Saudi Arabia and North Nigeria, which provides the orthodoxy for extremists, God does not believe in equality of men and women and, Liberty of all. God is a tyrant who punishes to instil fear and dominated by violence. This is what Islam says about its God by its teachings and practices.

In addition, Nigerians should worry that corruption, criminality and aggression have taken deep root in very strata of the Nigerian society. From the secondary schools, where students no longer make the connection between success and hard work, to the universities, where the lectures trade marks for cash or favour, to the students who find every avenue and opportunity to exploit one another; the Nigerian society is in a melt down and cannot survive, unless it gets a leadership that is fit for purpose.

As I have said many times than I care to remember, Nigeria is a ship taking water and will go down unless the holes in the hull are closed. Those whose responsibility it is to Keep the Nigerian ship afloat must be held accountable and must realise that they may not make it to the life boat, if they allow the crisis to reach point of no return. I hope Nigeria survives.

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