Readers familiar with religion and politics within the Nigeria socio-cultural, political and economic framework will not be surprised to learn that in the years immediately preceding and following the attainment of independence, the country has returned to the questions about religion that matters so prominently there. We who live in the post-independence era, have become disillusioned concerning the power of religion over human nature, and more alarming is the power of religion concerning the control of human affairs.
Recently, in the realm of political gathering and the educational sector, religion is fast becoming a threat to peace and unity. Central to the most populous religions in Nigeria (Islam and Christianity) is a sense of God’s supremacy over us and the common perception of God controlling man’s affairs. However, the conviction that one’s religion is superior to another and it is the only path for spiritual enlightenment and physical breakthrough is fast becoming a thorn in the flesh of society. While this happened to be a predominant characteristic of a religious fanatic, it is imperative to note that being passionate for one’s religion is praiseworthy but when such passion is wrongly channeled, it becomes dangerous for the community, thus leading to the abuse of human rights.
The incessant manifestation of violent religious conflicts has continued to threaten peaceful coexistence, the wheel of progress, and national development of the country. Therefore, to tame the perennial crisis, the following recommendation is essential:
1. Religious leaders during sermons should strive to use constructive language rather than inciting or being disrespectful to other religions.
2. For the sake of nation-building, religious leaders should not leap into a situation without first thinking about the consequences. Disciples of Islam and Christianity in Nigeria must reconcile and recognize what they need, which is peaceful coexistence and work together to achieve it. The Northern citizens, in particular, must wake up to this fact if the country is to be free of violence and insecurity.
3. It is important to remember that no matter how hot our anger is, it cannot cook yams. Therefore dialogue should be a useful tool in dispute resolution with a firm commitment to peaceful coexistence. With such, conflict can be controlled and avoided.