In this paper, we take a look at the roles of religion in addressing conflicts in Nigeria. This is because religions can serve as one of the best tools for social engineering to quell the incessant conflicts in the country. This makes it important for religious organizations to be partners in progress to achieve social development and peace.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. It embodies belief, trust and confidence.
Models of political organization and regimes failed in Nigeria because the citizens had lost faith in them. The legitimacy, authority and power of any administration or a political system rely on the citizens’ belief trust and confidence. All religions teach faithfulness and before there can be national unity, Nigerians must be seen as faithful citizens. A politician who engages in corruption, exploitation, misuse of power and economic resources does not give room for national unity among the ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Religion teaches honesty to everyone. Honesty is the absence of deceitfulness and untruthfulness. Due to dishonesty in Nigeria, there is no unity among different ethnic groups across the nation. This is because cheating, misappropriation and embezzlement are acts of dishonesty.
An honest person is found to be faithful in taking care of what belongs to other people or the nation.
In Nigerian politics the manifestations of dishonesty include electoral malpractice, inflating census figures, overestimating of contract prices, misuse of public funds, and other forms of corruption.
We must learn to appreciate the value of honesty if we need national unity. It is noteworthy to state that national unity is firmly secured when the rulers and the ruled practice honesty.
But those who oppress and exploit their fellowmen shall be severely punished by Allah because the Qu’ran states “Great is the guilt of those who oppress their fellowmen and conduct themselves with wickedness and injustice. These shall be sternly punished”.
Another contribution of Religion to addressing conflicts and crises in Nigeria is its teaching of impartiality. An impartial Nigerian would not make distinction in his treatment of individuals and social groups. In a country where this is practicable, national unity is bound to reign.
For God shows no partiality, if our leaders at the helms of affairs do not make distinction in their treatment of ethnic groups and individuals, it is believed that, the unity of this country-would be sustained.
Also, the ethnic groups in Nigeria must be treated equally if and only we want unity to prevail in our country. In a country where there is disunity, it means our rulers are partial, and can be regarded as the cause of disunity in the country. They will eventually give accounts of their deeds while on earth before God. This is confirmed by the saying that: The judgment of man’s character is in his hand.
Religion teaches us to love God in everything that we do and show same to our neighbours as he has loved himself.
Without the love of the country, Nigerians will continue to be selfish, greedy, intolerant, and continue in looting the country’s human and material resources.
In a country where there is lack of love among its ethnic groups and citizens, there can be no unity and peace let alone of economic development and political stability.
If our leaders actually love the governed, they would seek to improve the conditions of the masses rather than accumulating wealth in their personal accounts in various foreign banks at the expense of the masses.
This is one of the important contributions of religions be it African religion, Christianity or Islam, to national unity. In a country where there are many ethnic groups, whose religious are not the same; religions tolerance is of great significance for peaceful coexistence.
In Nigeria, lack of religious tolerance is common among Muslims and Christians. This is because the preachers of Islam and Christianity sometimes use abusive languages in their sermons thereby creating hatred, distrust among people of different faiths to the disunity of the country.
The continuation of this attitude, leads to religious riots which at the end lead to national disunity.
Religion teaches against corruption. It is believed that love of money and greed among millions of Nigerian citizens leads to corrupt practices. In a country where its rulers and political office holders are corrupt, such a country can never be economically buoyant. This is because the billions of Naira siphoned from Nigeria to overseas countries could have been used to develop the neglected areas in the country.
The people of these neglected areas would be bitter for underdevelopment of their areas by the government. This leads to national disunity instead of uniting the main ethnic groups together in the country.
The Bible states, he who oppresses the poor to increase his personal wealth or gives to the rich will only come to want. Indeed, there is no religion in the world that does not teach against cheating: Cheating one’s neighbour or people of other tribe does not please God.
In a country where millions of people are being cheated one way or the other, such could lead to conflicts and make it difficult for the country to move forward. For national unity to reign in our country, both the rulers and the ruled should do away entirely with cheating. Nigerians who cheat their neighbours one way or the other are wicked and God’s curse is on the house of the wicked no matter their status, but he blesses the house of the righteous.
Discrimination does not give room for national unity because the people discriminated against can never be glad with those in position of authority and this can lead to conflicts. Religion does not support discrimination of human beings whether in Nigeria or in the world at large.
In Nigeria today, tribalism prevails, making it very difficult for citizens to be united. This is because right from the time Nigeria became independent on 1st October, 1960, many of the political leaders have been tribalistic and this has bred conflicts in various instances.
No wonder one sees a project which is to be cited in a particular state been cited elsewhere for ethnic reasons to the disunity of the country. This type of wicked attitude should cease so as to give room for unity.
Greed is that excessive, uncontrollable, burning passion to have more of anything than one really needs or deserves. It is an insatiable appetite for more. A greedy person is he who is so self-centred that all that matters to him is to have more and more of anything.
He wants more food, more drinks, more money, more houses, more cars, more power – the only thing he lives for is the acquisition of more.
The problem can be traced to the mid 70’s when the then military regime “fired” all workers it considered to be deadwood. The mass retrenchment of workers and the general purging of the establishment were hailed by many Nigerians. Workers who could not cope with their untimely dismissal from service for which they were most unprepared, died of heart attack. The families and friends of those who survived the purge soon began to put pressure on them to stop being ‘foolish’. They were encouraged to get as much as possible out of Government while they had time and the opportunity because they too could be fired at any point in time.
Greedy political office holders had stolen billions of naira to overseas countries; this money could have been spent to develop the country. The neglected areas can never be co-operative and united in the country. But the moment Nigerians do away with greed. It is believed that the unity of the country is certain.
From the foregoing, it is necessary for Nigerian citizens to:
In this paper, we examined the roles of religion in addressing conflicts in Nigeria. From our findings, religions would serve as one of the best tools for social engineering to quell the incessant conflicts and crises in the country. Thus, there is need for religious organizations to be partners in progress to achieve social development and peace.
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