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For a national religious conference



International Management Institute (IMI), New Delhi

Exactly one year ago I, alongside other classmates of mine at the International Management Institute (IMI), New Delhi visited a religious tourist centre in Tamil Nadu, where different religious faiths including Christianity, Hindi, Islam, Krishna etc took turns to recite portions of their respective Holy Books to a congregation of all religions present.

It was a pleasant sight to behold the orderly manner in which adherents of different religions in regular intervals ministered to members of their faith and non-members of their faith alike under same room and in healthy brotherhood. For me, proceedings there brought home the stupidity in religious intolerance, the oneness and universality of God and indeed the fragrance that comes with religious harmony.

As soon as I returned home, I had in the course of my post-mortem of my sojourn established – effortlessly, too – the nexus between the healthy religious orientation obtainable in India and the more than 35% the service industry contributed to that country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Further, I had also sought to see whether there was a correlation between the elevated place of religion in Nigeria and the distress our economy faced at that time.

The reason for the comparative analysis had been the obvious similarities between the two heterogeneous societies. Like India, we are a densely populated nation; like India, Nigeria is multi-ethnic and multi-religious; like India, Nigeria is reasonably assailed by sleaze and assorted variants of corruption; and like India, we are a former British colony. But unlike India, “religion” enjoys a most regrettable premium in both our private lives as citizens and as a community.

Somehow, I couldn’t run away from the fact that unlike in India, we pray so hard for God to do for us what He had already given us the ability to fix. And the last time I checked the scriptures, God is not wasteful – He is not only prudent, he actually expects his creatures to diligently make the most of his endowments. So we end up praying amiss oftentimes.

Similarly as a nation, we have also allowed that which ought to strengthen us both as a component part of humanity and as one people under one God to divide us unnecessarily. Religion. It thus becomes understandable why Indian youths are busy doing exploits in the service industry and ICT environments whilst our youths are busy reading the Holy Books upside-down. Yet we hope to prosper! Otherwise, how can one satisfactorily explain the lingering Boko Haram madness in this country? And worse still, the growing spate of killings in the North on account of religious intolerance?

Yes, Nigeria has slipped into economic recession; we can also clearly see prospects of our going further southwards into economic depression, and ultimately end up, if care is not taken, in the cesspit of economic inferno, but that I can assure Nigerians is of lesser consequence than the hell certain Muslim elements appear set to visit on the nation. I will refrain from recounting the series of religion-motivated killings witnessed on our shores in recent times in order not to precipitate a resurgence of emotion, but suffice it to say that the height it has climbed to is, for want of a better word, alarming. Pray, does President Muhammadu Buhari know this?

It is even more nerve-racking because the general Christian public perception appears to be:
a) That this phenomenon has grown much worse under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch;
b) That there appears to be tacit endorsement or at least a certain level of conspiratorial tolerance by security and law-enforcement agencies; and
c) That there is a grand plan to Islamize Nigeria.

Whilst I may not be in a position to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the “claims” above, it appears quite clear to me that the state is in breach of the constitution that clearly defines Nigeria as a “secular state”, by not addressing the legitimate concerns of Christians. Were late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (though a Muslim) to be alive today, I am sure he would have approached the Supreme Court to interpret the meaning of “secular state” as enshrined in our constitution.

I sure do have a more than average acquaintance with the Holy Qur’an and also have robust relationships with fine (I mean very good) Muslims as friends and colleagues, but the excuse that these killings are being carried out by “misguided Muslim elements” is no longer tenable. The President Buhari-led administration has also failed in its duty to protect lives and property of innocent Christians living in Nigeria who have lost their lives to ungodly elements calling themselves “Muslims”. Islam, I am told, means” peace”; why then should Muslims (if they’re true Muslims) derive joy in cutting short the lives of their Christian brothers and sisters? God the One that I know and serve – does not glory in the spillage of blood of the innocent!

Reader, while we share thoughts on the fore-going which is the tragic situation we find ourselves in, pause for a second and read Mr. Chandran Nair, Founder and CEO of Global Institute for Tomorrow:

“Back in the summer of 2015, the heart of a Hindu man was transported across Kerala for a Christian patient in dire need of a new one. Funds were raised by a Muslim businessman to pay for the operation, which was performed by the state’s top-heart surgeon: A Christian.”

Back to our matter. The times are evil. Nobody should pretend that all is well and nobody should lie to the president that the situation has not approached a highly combustible stage. With the way things are going, Christians – especially those living in the North are under some kind of siege due to this rising religious intolerance – made worse by the authorities’ failure or inability or refusal to nip such satanic plots in the bud. It is against the foregone backdrop that I wish to call on the authorities to immediately convene a NATIONAL RELIGIOUS CONFERENCE to retrieve the nation from this path of unmitigated disaster. A stitch in time still saves nine!

Chuks Akamadu, Mamging Director/Editor-in-Chief, The COLUMN Publishers Nigeria Limited

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