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1 million Nigerians killed in religious crises — Don

By Benjamin Njoku
A university don, Professor Oyin Abogunrin of the University of Ibadan, has blamed Nigeria’s woes on prevalent religious uprising in the Northern part of the country.

Speaking at the 11th convocation and investiture of fellows of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) yesterday in Lagos, he said national unity, transformation and political advancement will remain a mirage as long as corruption, electoral fraud, bad leadership, poverty, religious intolerance and social injustice still prevail in the polity.

In his paper titled, “Religion and Morality as Instruments of Transformation, National Integration and Development” blamed the many woes that had befallen the nation in the past on the prevalent religious uprising in the northern part of the country, election rigging, poverty and bad leadership, insisting that unless these anomalies are addressed, the nation’s quest for true federalism will continue to prove abortive.

According to him, religious uprising, which has caused the death of over a million Nigerians in the recent past has turned out to become a dangerous weapon in the hands of some politicians, and misguided individuals who use it as a platform to achieving political ambitions, or divert attention from the real issues in the country.

He criticized a situation in the country, where individuals who sponsored or perhaps, led a religious crisis in the past were not brought to book, wondering why it should be so, since it is said, no one is above the law of the land.

However, lamenting the steady decline in the standard of living in the country today, the university don blamed the rising in crime wave in the country on bad leadership, saying it remains a direct consequence of lack of job creation in the country, which has given rise to armed robbery on the part of the youths prostitution and other social vices.

Although, acknowledging the role religion has played in the nation in the past, especially in the area of promoting unity and oneness among Nigerians, Professor Abogunrin admonished leaders of the two religious divide, regarding the recurring religious crises that pervades the country.

He also fawned at what he described as ‘a national tragedy, a situation where our political leaders are today celebrating state governors, who originally won an election under the platform of another political party but, later abandoned the party for obvious reasons to another party without duly and officially resigning from that party.

He called on Nigerians to rise to condemn the act of cross-carpeting for the survival of the national. Also, the university don berated the role played by the Independent Electoral Commission, INC in the last general election, noting that since 1999, that election has remained the worse electoral conduct in the country.

His words, “ the quality of life in Nigeria is steadily on the wane, due to bad leadership. In recent years, people have taken to recruiting the youths to foment trouble in the country. Owing to lack unemployment, the idle youths are taking to armed robbery, while the women prostitution as way of earning a living,.

And some of our leaders are arrogantly pretending not to be aware of the predicament in our society. Today, religious crisis has become a weapon in the hands of some politicians or individuals either to win an election or to divert attention from the real issues in the country.”

“Religious crisis has caused the death of over one million Nigerians. What of the prevailing electoral fraud in the country. General Ibrahim Babangida(rtd), during his eight year rule as a military leader, institutionalized corruption, while Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s quest for national rebirth was abortive, two year into the Umaru Yar ‘Adua four year administration has shown that things are not improving either.

In 2002, Nigeria was declared as the most corrupt nation in the whole world. The present administration recently came up with a project called “re-branding the nation. We need to rebrand ourselves first and foremost before talking of rebranding the nation. In Nigeria, corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of the nation. What we celebrate today is no longer good character but bad governance.

“Since 1999, election in this country has become a do or die affair, which is not supposed to be so. We are celebrating those governors and politicians who are abandoning the party under which platform they secured the ticket to the Government House to the ruling party without firstly resigning honourably from that party.”, the university don stressed.

He said, for the nation to move forward, there is need for Nigerians to come together once again and discuss the future of this country, especially in areas relating to resource control, and creation of new local governments. He also recommended seven years imprisonment for anybody caught in the act of rigging of election in future.

At the occasion, four distinguished Nigerian scholars were inducted as new fellows of the Academy of Nigerian Letters. They included, Professor Stella M.A. Johnson, a professor of African Literature, Professor Moses Akinola Makinde, Nigerian pioneer of African Philosophy, Professor Ernest Emenyonu(Overseas Fellow) and Professor Alfred Opubor, teacher, broadcaster, researcher and professor of Communication. Mr. Gabriel Imomotimi Gbaingbaiin Okara, was crowned Honorary fellow of the Academy.


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