Religious Crises in the North: Which Way Out of this Quagmire?
Aliyu A. Ammani
This essay is an attempt at identifying the remote and immediate causes of the incessant religious crises in northern towns and cities, if you’d rather the so-called middle belt political zone of the north. In expressing this view, there is no intention on my part to mock the bones of those who died so long ago and who tried, however ineffectually, to lead their people.
The thrust of this piece is that the nuisance of religious crises in the North is essentially a result of the manipulation of religion to score political goals: using religion to confuse or destabilize; which set the stage for what we experienced time and again: series of violent provocations, reactions and counter reactions; all in the name of religion. This manipulation of religion is orchestrated and masterminded by selfish elements within the so-called elite class of both the Islamic and Christian religions, herein referred to simply as the manipulators.
The motive for the manipulation of religion is a self centred one, a means through which selfish politicians seek to attain undue political leverage in an otherwise politically competitive level playing field. The reason for this is, in the words of the late Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman “to enable this class (the manipulators) to cover themselves with religious and ethnic disguises in order to further entrench division among our people (and) slow down their awakening at any cost.” This is because any single one of them (the manipulators) “cannot appear as what he really is in the political economy of Nigeria. He has to find a cover. He cannot claim political leadership openly on the grounds that he is, or wants to be, an exporter-importer, a contractor (etcetera)… he has to take cover as a Muslim or Christian … the manipulation of religion in Nigeria today is essentially a means of creating the context for this...