Bigotry: Nigeria’s leading cobweb
To say that Nigeria is plagued by myriads of nagging problems can only be categorized as a raging understatement.
It’s doubtful if there can ever be any gathering of Nigerians without discussions centred around the various problems facing the country cropping up and dominating the entire space.
An adage states that it never rains but pours probably referring specifically to what Nigerians have had to face through the ages without any seeming respite in sight either now or in the nearest future. It’s sad that rather than the proverbial coconut leaf getting softer, the nation’s experience has been that of jumping from the frying pan into a burning fire outrightly.
Nigerians are no more than pawns in the hands of utterly arrogant leaders who had got their mandate through the ballot and continue to subject them to various levels of the harrowing experience that are always difficult to explain or understand. But of all the problems facing the country, there is a hidden aspect that no one seems to consider as a major contributory factor to whatever Nigeria is or has become.
Everyone only seems to complain about the sad situations the country has found itself in without realizing a particular issue that continually proves to be a major setback for the entire country. No one, it seems, even thinks of the untold damage such issue which is none other than bigotry in all forms, especially religious and how it is a major cog in the wheel of national development.
To begin with, almost all Nigerians claim to belong to one religion or another, and they go to any length to prove their faith and commitments to all their various religious inclinations, sometimes even killing others in the defence of their own faith.
Just recently, a lady, Deborah, was lynched in Sokoto after some unsubstantiated allegation was levelled against her. It’s difficult to believe that such dastardly religious intolerance can still persist in some areas of the country despite the long years of inter-ethnic relationships.
It however goes a long way to prove how dangerously devoted some people are to their religions.
In spite of all superficial piety displayed by Nigerians, two things that are very difficult to find are: love for others and saying and upholding the truth. Trying to unravel the veracity of anything in Nigeria is tantamount to embarking on a wild goose chase because, at the end of the day, nothing will be achieved.
Apart from the fact that most Nigerians find it utterly difficult to say and uphold the truth, they are also not ready to accept the truth and neither do they love whoever tries to stand by the truth.
The most hated beings among Nigerians are those who are known to say issues as they are without minding words or withholding anything. Such people are disowned completely and gradually ostracized by society.
Due to such a known attitude of the people, those who seek their votes also understand this fact so clearly that electioneering campaigns are always about deceit and propaganda pushed forward with the assistance of slush cash as the usual bait.
Once the target is hit and elections are won, the winners assume a new status of arrogance as champions and emperors! And since deceit and tricks were usually the main tools of winning elections, propaganda also easily becomes the main machinery of governance as the winning team continues to spread its tentacles in enriching its own card-carrying members to the detriment and total exclusion of all others.
Having been abandoned by those who merely deceived them to gain their votes and political powers, the citizens turn to their religious leaders for miracles and succour.
While doing so, they fail to realize that those they are running to for solutions are also part and parcel of the same society that hates the truth and has no genuine love. So, what happens continually is a situation where the masses think that the government is not doing enough to assuage their sufferings and they seek solace in their religions.
Quite unfortunately, they still fall into another trap of deceitful religious leaders who encourage them to put their hopes and treasures in heaven while such leaders themselves are busy building theirs here on earth by investing in all manners of exotic properties.
Bigotry will never allow Nigerians to see very clearly that there is no difference between those who deceive them repeatedly to gain their votes and religious leaders to whom they turn for help.
While the masses dissipate so much energy serving their religious leaders, thinking that they are worshipping God, funds that should be used in paying taxes are remitted regularly to religious houses and leaders who swim in billions through endless all-year-round crusades.
Leaders who are bereft of ideas for creating jobs for the citizens are usually unable to enforce the payment of taxes by jobless citizens but since the development which everyone clamours for can never be achieved without adequate funds, the next strategy of the various tiers of government is to clandestinely devise so many illegal means of generating funds including deploying some agents of the state and even miscreants at enforced revenue drive which leads to such agencies being labelled as public enemies.
To achieve the same purpose, some state governments are known for the creation of unconstitutional so-called development areas which are run as full-fledged local councils and nobody could raise any eyebrows.
Sadly, religious organizations and leaders who benefit immensely from bigotry rather than using the billions at their disposal to build infrastructures and industries that can assist in solving the nation’s unemployment problems only fold their hands and watch things deteriorate or build schools that are difficult for the children of the poor to access because most religious leaders themselves do not have a genuine and sincere love to help humanity in their hearts.
When therefore will Nigerians understand that there’s virtually no difference between those who govern them and their so-called religious leaders? When will Nigerians realize the need to uphold the truth in all their interactions for the country to move forward? When will Nigerians discover the need to love one another sincerely in such a manner that can translate eventually to electing leaders with a good conscience who would ensure good governance in all ramifications and everyone will be able to heave a sigh of relief?
Oyewusi the coordinator of Ethics Watch International wrote from Lagos.