The Supreme Being and Politics: The Nigerian Politician

1 Comment » March 13th, 2009 posted by // Categories: General Articles

Cornelius Ewuoso OP
Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

When a Muslim agitates for Sharia in his State, he is only seeking to do Allah’s will, so who can object to that? When a devout Muslim fights in the Holy war, he is only obeying Allah’s commandments, so who dares object to that? When a dedicated religious man gives his daughter away in marriage to a man old enough to be her father two times over, he is only observing his religious practises which relate him to his Supreme Being, so who dares question that? Who can object to an individual serving his God wholeheartedly, since we all understand that there is more to life than the material things we see around us. Who dares condemn an individual practicing his religion? Freedom of religion is our fundamental human right, so who dares stand in our way. The worship of God or Allah, or whatever it is we call the Supreme Being, is encouraged by all since it brings out the better part of the human person; makes him loving, charitable and affectionate.
    But what is not clear, at least in the Nigerian society, is whether when a Muslim or any man fights in a Holy war, agitates for Sharia or gives his ‘very’ young daughter’s hand away in marriage to a ‘very’ old man, he  is actually doing that principally for religious purposes or for his own selfish political gains.   What is not clear is whether when the Nigerian man does these things, he does them because he wants to please his Supreme or because of his own private interests. And that is my concern.
    My experience in Nigeria is that religion has been used and subjected by politicians to perpetrate all kinds of injustice. Religion has become a powerful weapon in the hands of politics and politicians for amassing, stealing, maiming and committing grand injustices in Nigeria. It has been subjected for both personal and political aggrandisement.
    But politics, which aims at the proper ordering of the State, has its own characteristics clearly distinguishable from Religion. This is not to claim in anyway that both politics and Religion are mutually exclusive. Politics concerns itself with the physical well-being and the common interest of the society. Hence, politicians are challenged to establish an atmosphere whereby, individuals can freely pursue their happiness. Religion, on the other hand, concerns itself with relating the individual to the Divine. It is there constantly reminding the individual that over and above the material things, there is the ultimate need for the Divine.
    Politics does not and cannot answer all the questions put forward by man. It can only go as far as it is able to; religion supplies what is remaining. It completes politics. Hence, I totally agree with Chief Obafemi Awolowo that politics informs religion as it is informed by it. It influences religion. This truth is particularly evident in both Catholicism and Islam. One very important factor, according to William Rusch, in his Trinitarian Controversy, which contributed greatly to the Christianization of the doctrine of the Trinity in Catholicism, for example, is the non-theological factor of politics. The first Catholic council of Nicea, in 325AD, was not convoked by a Pope but by the emperor Constantine. Similarly the doctrinal formulations of the teachings of that council were not a coinage of a theologian but of the politician Constantine. Irrespective of this, we may equally add, there was ‘the decisive or principal religious reason’ for the council. Politics only played a secondary role not a decisive role. To maintain the contrary, is to claim that Politics determines religion, which is not the case. There is a difference between determination and influence. Politics influences religion and not determine religious beliefs.
    Similarly, the reasons for the first Holy wars in Islam, were principally for the purpose of the spread of Islam; to convert the ‘infidels’.  But these wars were called by the political leaders who equally had the intention of expanding their frontiers.
    It would, nonetheless, be egregious to subject religion to ‘political torture’. Merely reasoning from the point of view of their objects equally supports this claim. Religion aims at the divine, which is higher than the man centred Politics. Any attempt to reduce one to the other always ends up in chaos. The Jos mayhem supports this claim. I affirm the mutual complementariness like Chief Awolowo did, but I equally recognize each one’s distinctiveness. The Jos debacle reiterates why it is necessary for us all to understand, consistently emphasize and appreciate the distinctiveness of each of these two terms, religion and politics.
There was a Local Government election in Jos. One party was perceived to be gaining the upper hand in the election by the other, which in my own opinion is normal in every election. This second party immediately gathered a group of idle young men and incited to see the first party’s progress as a threat to their own religion. These young men responded to this calling in an onslaught of the members of the other religion and of course, these other men retaliated. Blood was shed everywhere. What ordinarily started out as a political exercise of electing a new leader, ended up being a war between religions. The damage was disheartening.
    The response to the situation, from the political authority further complicated the issue. The committee which was set-up by the Presidency to examine the situation was very biased. But of course what do you expect, when it was largely made up of Northerners. The Governor’s men showed affection principally to the Christians. The first Lady came around and pitched her tent with Muslims. Members of the Christian Association of Nigeria felt inclined to the Christians alone. At the end of the day, what was supposed to be a political responsibility of bringing about peace and justice was lost in the whole show, resulting in a debacle; an abundant failure.
    Religious sentiments became the political response. As a result of this, enmity was further entrenched between the two religions resulting in another clash in the President’s son-in-law’s State, Bauchi, where about 5 Christians died and hundreds more were displaced from their homes. And the Presidency simply looked the other way. No one saw it as a course for political alarm. The political response was lost in the pretence of religion. Yet the Director of NYSC still wants many corps in that State, to suffer martyrdom.
    At least the State Governor was kind enough to have promised to build new structures for the displaced Christians. What about justice? What about the political responsibility of bringing the perpetrators of that dastardly act to book? In all 23 years on earth, I have never seen a leader so careless and politically irresponsible so as to misplace the principal priority of making sure justice is neither denied nor delayed for anyone who seeks it, as we have them in Nigeria.
    Another experience which equally relates the Nigerian man’s failure to appreciate the distinctiveness of religion and politics is portrayed in the recent marriage of Nafisa Yar’Adua to governor Yuguda of Bauchi. But notice that in Islam, there is nothing wrong in giving a young lady’s hand in marriage to a very old suitor. Such religious gestures are common in Islam. And if President Yar’Adua had done this out of religious convictions, there would have been nothing wrong with it, since he was only practicing his faith. But it was not done out of any religious convictions but political interest. This political motivation will be made public as soon as Governor Yuguda is made the Governor of Central Bank, as it is widely rumoured.
    My concern here is why beautiful Nafisa would allow herself to be used by some fellows for their own political end. At 21years, the future was filled with endless possibilities for her. I graduated last year and at 23 years, still in my house, I cannot boast of the unimaginable possibilities open to her. Instead, she accepted to be used by some greedy political fellows, who would do anything including subjecting religion so as to fulfil their own person interests.
    As I have argued in my previous article, An Army of failed Systems in Nigeria, (published on this site) ‘religion in Nigeria has been reduced to mundane and selfish purposes of men and women who will never cease to use it as a means of exploiting the unsuspecting masses’, and unless their distinctiveness is properly emphasized, this injustice may most likely continue. 
    There is the case of the recent visit of James Ibori to Pastor Adeboye’s Redemption camp. Some said, he paid the Pastor a visit so as to ask for God’s forgiveness; hoping that by asking for God’s forgiveness, he will equally be spared the rods of both agents of the national and international criminal investigation departments. But, here is the Good news I have for him, God has forgiven you, Ibori for the untold hardships you brought to lives of many because the Supreme Being of religion is a merciful one. However, the State condemns you and will bring you to book. Albeit the Nigerian EFCC may fail in this regard which will not be a surprise to me, the Court trying you now in London will not. You will be brought to book and justice will prevail in the long run.
    The challenge here, dear friends, is to understand, appreciate and consistently emphasize the distinctiveness of these two terms, religion or the speech about God or Allah and politics while at the same time not neglecting their mutual complementariness. If we fail in this regard, our politicians may never stop using religion as an excuse for the failure in their political responsibilities. When a serious crime has been committed, the political elites must be challenged to see to it that justice is done and not couch it in some religious speech. We cannot afford to spare the rod and spoil the child at this stage of our historical development.

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One Response to “The Supreme Being and Politics: The Nigerian Politician”

  1. Inaran says:

    You are correct to state that Almighty God is merciful but who informed you that God has forgiven Ibori? Almighty judges all things and shows mercy to whoever GOD decides to show mercy.

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