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Religion as opium in Nigeria, By Yahaya Balogun

By Yahaya Balogun

Religion in Nigeria is a form of mental robbery and slavery. Our country has become a nation where the government is defined as coagulation of cult politicians and religious brigandage. According to Wikipedia, “Brigandage is the life and practice of highway robbery and plunder. It is practiced by a brigand, a person who usually lives in a gang and lives by pillage and robbery.” The Wikipedia definition perfectly fits Nigeria’s current situation, where government and religion are the quickest means of getting rich quickly at the hapless citizens’ expense. And, of course, nobody will challenge your sources of stupendous wealth if you get extraordinarily or circumstantially rich overnight. The manner with which people shout hallelujah and In sha Allah to religious manipulation of the manipulators is beyond rational thought.

In the United Arab Emirates world, Saudi Arabia, and other advanced countries, they worship Allah/God without denying the 5G revolution and Covid-19 pandemic to make money off their boisterous citizens. There’s no religious and ethnic mercantilism. I cry literally anytime I see the hopelessness and self-inflicted anguish the religious and political leaders daily heap on Nigerians. It’s pertinent to note that Nigerian religionists mock Allah/God daily with the Holy Books. Everything they do is the antithesis of what they preach daily.

It is not uncommon for people to ‘pray’ (mock) in the (dawn) morning; steal the minds of the people, and people’s money throughout the day, and then come home at the twilight of the night to (mock) ‘pray’ to Allah/God for more ‘miracles’ the next day. Any country that romanticizes this blasphemous situation in Nigeria will continue to witness the current nation’s abnormalities and calamities.

Mindfully, the Nigerian version of religion’s adherents in Nigeria wantons in squalor, while their clergymen and women live in luxury and megalomania and hedonistic lifestyles. Yet, no matter the level of Nigerians’ education or knowledge acquisition, the collective followers’ mental cognition corded with their Alfas through Stockholm syndrome and the opium of Nigerian theologies. If you are tempted to challenge the followers’ (deliberate) ignorance, you will be the devil’s incarnate and devil’s advocate. We’ll continue to be in deep trouble if the trend and religious blasphemy continue unabated. There’s a need for us to “emancipate our people from mental slavery.”

Inadvertently, my people must wake up to the reality of 21st Century development. Every time one travels from coast to coast across the United States of America, one is moved to tears for Nigeria to see how a modern society should function. Nigeria is not working! It is not even close to a work-in-progress. As a citizen in glorified self-exile yonder, you’re frightened to plan a visit to your loved ones in your beloved country. If you don’t get killed by a road accident, the spate of kidnapping, armed and mental robberies occasioned by leaders’ (religious leaders and government) attitude towards the followership will sicken your heart. Our leaders nestled in our mental nomenclature. The souls of those who claim to bridge our relationship with Almighty Allah/God always think of religious enterprise. The God most of us worship doesn’t need Alfas, Daddy GOs, Mummy GOs, or marabouts to serve as buffers, intermediaries, or catalysts between the Almighty Allah/God and us. Those who lead us (preachers) worship Allah/God and remind us of our eternal salvation do so with “In God’s name Plc” and mercantilism. They don’t preach what we need to do to avoid the sinful things that will deny us heavenly rewards. Existential prosperity has dwarfed or replaced divine salvation.

The Nigerian version of religion is a means to emasculate and encapsulate vulnerable people’s minds in a vortex of (deliberate) ignorance. Rather than fostering an egalitarian society, they’re using religion to destroy many homes and families. People have used religion to turn wives against husbands, children against fathers, mothers against in-laws, children, and families, blossom friends against merrier friends. Religion has shortened lives and created a dysfunctional and pariah society in Nigeria. The list of Nigerian mental slavery and robbery goes on and on. In the rancorous of religion, societal growth and development have eluded Nigeria and made the people more impoverished. It’s a society of anomie where hapless lives wanton in squalor, brutish, nasty, and short-lived. Despite our raw talents and human capital, we have wasted our energy on mundane things that have no bearing on our well-being. Nigerians are quick to celebrate mediocre people at the expense of deserving people. Mediocrity holds sway in government, private, and individuals circles. A potentially rich country has relegated the chunk of its people into the backyards of squalor, hardship, and adversity.

Religion has rewired and distorted many minds. Many Professors and academically inclined people are not exempted from the mental slavery of the Nigerian version of faith.  Nigeria is one of the most religious nations in the western hemisphere, and yet, it is the most crime-infested region in the world. The protagonists of religion are political leaders, their bondage, and warped religious minions. They have spiritual surrogates in faith as leaders. The protagonists reside in the minds of #Leadership and #Followership. The religious marabouts help in festering ignorance between the leadership and followership and make them live in the same cocoon of mental slavery. The three nuances (leadership, followership, and marabouts) of religion above are the bane of national growth and development in Nigeria.

In today’s Nigeria, everyone seems to be motivated by instant gratification and a quest for instant wealth acquisition. It’s not uncommon to hear a “too long article” to read. Or “na motivational speaker go put food for my table?” from the apathetic audience or readers. In contrast, motivational pastoruers and cults of politicians can quickly speak diabolically to colonize their minds with monetary value to buy private jets and live in luxury. Our society is featured in (deliberate) ignorance, grandiosity, and poverty of mind. This article speaks to everyone’s conscience in our religion, geopolitics, and cultural nuances. The poverty of mind with ethnicity and religiosity are not mutually exclusive. Every region in the Nigerian geopolitical entity is guilty of the substance of this presentation. Until there are a collective will and purpose to develop a nation fraught with lies, pseudo-religiosity, hypocrisy, the spirit of individualism, etc., the impoverished North will continue to act with privilege and play the born-to-rule. Their poverty-stricken almajiris and the rest of us will be the victims. We will continue to dwell on the hypothesis of hypocrisy and deceit in the Southern and the Eastern parts of an ineffable and beleaguered nation called Nigeria.

The unanswered and lingering question is: how will our people be emancipated from the shackles of the Nigerian version of religion? It is very concerning! If Nigerian religionists continue like this, we are in the long haul to the promised land, if, at all, Nigeria has any promised land on her plan through a collective journey on our road to nowhere!

  • Balogun wrote from Arizona, United States