Now, I’m about to Point Fingers
Truth must be told…
In Nigeria, the North is guiltier of religious intolerance than the South. As I travel around this country, evidences pop-up every so frequently. A few general examples will do for now.
There are still universities (federal and state) in the North, where Christians are denied right to own a place of worship, while Muslims have multiple places, built by the school authorities – many times. There was a case where a school allocates and revokes, and allocates and revokes plots of land for the Christian community. More painful is the fact that the revocations happen when a structure was midway in construction, on an allocated land.
The story is the same for NYSC orientation camps. In some states in the North, Christians are not given a place (to develop) for use as a worship venue. But of course, Muslims are. It is not different with government owned radio and TV stations in parts of the North. There are states where Christians have repeatedly asked to be given slot for religious programming, without success.
Are these evils present in the South? Yes. But they are the rare exceptions, compared with what goes on in the North.
We cannot make progress as a nation until we face the truth and say the truth and demand compliance with truth, especially, from those in our ‘camp’. Christians must do a lot to educate Christians and Muslims must do so much to educate Muslims on this matter.
Together we must all speak up against religiously induced oppression and victimization. We must identify such evil for what it is. We should give it no politically correct tag in a bid to avoid offending some people, people who are violating the basic rights of fellow human beings at that.
I know, some people feel we should not offend the bullies, as if the bullied are not very much Nigerians with rights like the big bullies. Several people have been harassed, and victimized at the hands of religious bullies. They have no voice, many times, because the system to fight their cause is the system that oppresses them. Sometimes, this oppression is not just about individuals. Whole communities have been branded and penciled for oppression because they are predominantly adherents of a particular religion. We are aware.
If we don’t speak up, the dream of building a united big nation will just be that, a dream! When people are made to feel like outsiders and liabilities in their own state, simply because of their religious affiliation, how can they be made to believe in a one Nigeria? How will you convince them to give their best for the good of the nation? How?
Let’s arise, shake off the silly dust of our indifference-to-religious-bullying, and face up to the bullies, whether they are Northerners or Southerners. We must also begin to heal, and to win back the hearts of our oppressed brothers and sisters, wherever they are in the land. Let reparations be made where possible.
It is possible…
If you are aware of cases of religiously motivated oppression, anywhere in Nigeria, speak up. Share your experience.
Problems don’t go away because we pretend they don’t exist. They go when we acknowledge and tackle them.