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Religion for justice 


They were never in the world two opinions alike, any more than two hairs or two grains. The most universal quality is diversity.Michel de Montaigne, French Essayist

Sir: Are there educational resource centres run by religious institutions in Nigeria and for free? A place where people can be trained on entrepreneurial skills to be safe reliant. A centre to coach and provide career workshops and give certificates to attendees without asking about their spiritual affiliations or even invitations to attend their religious programmes. Professional and non-partisan without knack for membership drive. Can youths find a place in religious homes where they can sit to read newspapers, to search for jobs after which they can be provided with one hour free time to use on the internet to apply for desired jobs seen? On days with no-where to go, can they go sit in the air-conditioned office in religious homes, fully equipped with water dispensers for visitors.

They can stay till closing time and go home as though they just returned from work. No need saying, people whose minds are engaged are hardly depressed with such opportunity to interact and network with people with same values and ambitions.  These centres will give people hope until they find jobs to do.

Imagine if all religious institutions’ give back to society by setting aside proceeds to build roads, hospitals schools and so on that are affordable to the needy. We may never have had militancy, Boko Haram and social disorder to the types Nigeria faces daily and, maybe the state wouldn’t have been a boiling cauldron. As a youngster, I saw a late cleric on state television and his sponsored sermons on private television, heap dangerous scorn on adherents of other faiths; what the televiser cared about was the money paid for air time. Ethics of the profession went with the mind. Don’t the regulators and the management of that station know the importance of censorship, the importance of peaceful co-existence in a pluralistic country like Nigeria battling with a fratricidal war?


State apparatuses are used in Nigeria to promote hatred and hate messages, and clerics on the loose do the same in motor parks.Gone are the days when children of different faiths slept and ate with their neighbours, sharing joys; the days when people interacted but not on the basis of religion. Now religion has been elevated negatively, not for the good of society but for some selfish and mundane considerations. It is a clear statement from them that they are above the law. And that is not acceptable in a nation that has law and order.

Anywhere you go to in Nigeria you hear daring assertions not Sotto Voce with pride. Core traditional values of the pursuit of knowledge, equal justice, self-reliance, family, hard work and universal brotherhood doesn’t appear to work anymore in Nigeria. Diversity, inclusion appears to be concepts that are hard to grasp. Nigerians are habituated to x-raying fellow country-men narrowly by judging people from where they are from, their beliefs, social status etc.  Instead of looking at other people’s uniqueness because of different cultures and perspectives that they bring to the national table. The moral cosmos is relativists.

Inclusion into national life must be far removed from talks always about tolerance. Diversity is more than tolerance but about respect for the dignity of all people and the sharing of opportunities, power and wealth.  Why then can’t we fight shy of ethnic groupings, and allow people into the larger room that development provides. Until we operationalise diversity in Nigeria and make people know that diversity means that people think differently and act in a different way absent superiority we can never develop strategies to make Nigeria grow. Not with these knavish feelings and serpentine entitlements everywhere. Not with moneyed interests elevated above love for man and the gaudy panorama of supremacy without reason. There is a language common all man, and it is the language of multi-culturalism, social justice, diversity and inclusion and it is no respecter of boundaries.

Everyone is unique in characteristics, thoughts and actions and people must be respected, appreciated and be understood for having wavering characteristics. That is the condition for being diverse and it should never be a curse and burden. Prejudices are damaging to any country. Hear me. A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong. Tecumseh, Shawnee 1795 Let religious institutions set the way for greatness in partnership with government
Simon Abah wrote from Abuja.


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Simon Abah
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