Interrogating religion, politics and conflicts in Africa : the case study of Nigeria
Laure, Ndjepel Mbiadjeu Liselotte
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Nigeria is a pluralistic society in which secularism has been proposed as an alternative to the practices in democratic states.Although all religions have differing ideologies and ways of life, they all playa dominant role in the political calculations and outcomes of elections in the country.Under the democratic regime, there arosein the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) an unwritten gentlemen's agreement of power rotation between the political representatives of the North(dominated by Muslims) and the representatives of the South (dominated by Christians). The existence of such an agreement did not prevent Nigerians from integrating religion to the state's political activities and thus creating an atmosphere governed by conflicts as a result of religious factors. One can argue that most conflicts in Nigeria are not only caused by political motives such as the issue of bad leadership or the corrupt character of government but also by religious factors. Additionally, economic reasons such as the improper distribution of Nigeria's resources, which helps increase unemployment and low living standards of Nigerians, have also been accounted to cause conflicts in the country. The reality however remains that it is as a result of religion being associated with Nigeria's politics which indirectly contributed to the formation of the Boko Haram Sect, which has as its principal objectives the Islamization of the country and rejection of all forms of western education or lifestyle, that the country has not been able to enjoy political, economic and social stability for a long time. The thesis employed a qualitative research method alongside the content and triangular method of data analyses. Data collected were derived from primary sources such as interviews and questionnaires, and secondary sources such as published and unpublished books, journals and newspapers. The thesis argues that religion influences Nigeria's political activities and electoral processes as well as playing a role in fueling some conflicts such as the recent Boko Haram sectarian violence. The argument is based on the reasoning that in order to get support,most Nigerian political elites rally behind the church or mosqueto attract the believers of that group. Similarly, such political elites, in order to make sure their interests are widely known and manifested across the country,contribute to the formation and financing of religious organizations like the Boko Haram sect whose activities help in destabilizing the incumbent government. Therefore,Nigerian political elites by using religion either to campaign for votes or through religious organizations to publicly express their intentions, help to demonstrate and encourage the influence of religion in the Nigerian society. The resultant effect is the occurrence of a number of religion-political conflicts that contribute to sinking the country into political, economic and social instability. Therefore, it is advisable for the Nigerian government, like most pluralistic societies, to create awareness among the elites on the importance of classifying religion as an individual's private affair.
- Humanities