Let me start by saying that the name Nigeria is synonymous with Religion and that Nigerians are deities and gods in every small space. With over 270 ethnic groups and 370 languages tied together by shared boundary, the diversity is deeply rooted.
Firstly, let it be known that religion is created by man and religion did not create man. It is simply people’s belief in some supreme being or spirit. There are so many things in nature and the universe, so many human encounters, that a major population of the universe is yet to find explanations to. And just as it is in human nature, there is a high tendency to ascribe what can’t be explained to a more superior cause or origin.
This human nature seems to have picked Nigeria as a permanent place of residence. As a Nigerian, if you spend six hours with the average population in Nigeria and not hear statements like God dey, it is well, we will be fine last last, God will help us, God will save this country, God will provide, and the likes then that day is your lucky day.
What I Think is the Reason for Religion
In my opinion, I think that the reason religion came into existence is as a result of man’s constant need to find closure to all his questions. I think that at the beginning of time, the focal point of religious relationships between people was born out of having similar confusions.
Like the people who did not understand the sun stuck together, the ones who were confused about day and night hung out more often to talk about it. And with the passage of time, assumptions and speculations and with the answer in sight, they decided to let go and just assume that some superior beings must be backstage controlling things.
Still in my opinion, as time went by, they discovered that there is a perfection of the act by whoever is behind the screen and thus, ascribed the supreme being to the most perfect existence. Hence, it is easy to assume that the supreme being is the opposite of all the vices and shortcomings of the daily human. Over time, these groups of people with similar confusions became organized and revered the closure they found, the supreme being. To me, this is the reason religion has been teaching love, peace, happiness and all other things that are expected to lead to perfection in life.
So, this leads me to the question, if the focal point of religion is supposed to exude love, affection, peace, honesty, perfection, and all other virtues, how come the people who choose this focal point are constantly in opposition to these values.
What About Just Being Human?
Ignoring religion, we as humans share a common space in the universe, are bound to relate with ourselves and the environment we find ourselves in. “Humanity” is the full extent of whatever it is that counts as human. It is the entirety of the group. Humanity is to humans as dogness is to dogs. It is the things that unify us all together under one idea.
It is also used to predicate sociable kindness to individual humans. You are said to have humanity if you are a “good” human. If you are kind to other humans and animals in a way that seems socially positive or respectful of them as living things, then you are humane. You recognize that they are things that feel emotions like you do, and so you treat them with humanity. You do not want them to suffer. The opposite of humanity is cruelty. To be cruel is to be inhumane.
Religion and Humanity in Nigeria
Now, it is clear that both religion and humanity abhor cruelty. In theory though, because the reality is that cruelty is the norm because of religion. With Nigeria in the light, having more than three distinct religious groups in the same boundary space, one would expect that it will be a hub of near perfection of humanity. However, what we see daily is a constant increase in cruelty because of acclaimed freedom of worship or religion or belief or whatever the law calls it. What we see is a constant division along the lines of religion.
Religion in Nigeria is plagued with conflict and violence for dominance. This, we have seen play out a lot of times in wars, massacres. Lots of lives and properties are lost on a steadily increasing rate due to conflicts that breakout on the basis of religious differences. Nigerians, who are known for ease of adoption of practices have now forgotten that we were humans before even becoming Nigerians and before we knew what organized religion is.
Because of the volatility of religious messages and the manual that guides them, the occasions for misinterpretations are not rare. Ignoring our consciences and instincts, we are now dependent on the understandings and interpretations of various religious leaders.
Who even made these religious leaders? On what grounds are they placed so high that they became so influential? This whole terrain is a messy stage. People have now mastered that act of subduing their will power, conscience, and instincts and they now follow some precepts set by another human. Precepts that have invalid audacity to undermine the existence of another human.
Nigeria is a great nation indeed but has immensely failed in handling its diversity and various religious groups. With more National funds used for religious activities than human empowerment, the trail has been set. At this point, it would not be wrong to say that religion is a curse to Nigeria instead of a blessing. As religious activities constantly grow in the nation and more people becoming more religious conscious, the relationship amongst the humans in the country is becoming terrible. The lines of divisions are deepening as the high-pitched prayers and songs are let out every day.
At this point, it is tempting at this point to begin linking the reducing humanity against religiosity in areas of politics, employment, appointments and all what not that happens in the country. But these things are secondary to compare to the discrimination everyone faces in their daily living in Nigeria and as Nigerians.
With the possibility of the essence of religion and humanity having a comeback in the consciousness of Nigerians, not in sight, may it be engraved into our minds that we were humans with conscience and instincts before we were called blacks, Nigerians, Christian, Muslim and the rest.