The Bishop of the Anglican Communion, Ibadan Diocese, Most Rev. Dr Joseph Akinfenwa, has identified religion as a major factor fueling political tension in Nigeria.
Rev. Akinfenwa made this call on Wednesday at the opening ceremony of the maiden Biennial Conference organised by the Department of Religions, Faculty of Arts; University of Ilorin.
The theme of the Conference was entitled: “Religion and Contemporary Issues in Nigeria”.
The clergyman, who was Chairman of the occasion, declared that politically, Nigeria was sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
He observed that while all religions preach peace and would be expected that religion could be used to diffuse political tension, lamented that the opposite was the case in Nigeria.
“In fact, religion is perhaps one of the main factors fuelling political tension in our nation,” he said.
The Bishop, who noted that Nigeria was a nation of extremely religious people, also lamented that the country was at the same time deeply immersed in corruption.
“Today in Nigeria, religion influences something as basic as population census.
“And we have continued to suffer because we simply do not know for sure how many we are, and who exactly are the citizens of Nigeria.
“So, the place of religion and our contemporary political situation needs to be well examined”, he said.
The clergyman further identified class prejudices as another factor fueling underdevelopment in the country.
According to him, “the son of the pauper has to struggle against the odds in his quest to become somebody, and kept down by an elite class that is determined to forever suppress and undermine the underprivileged.
Akinfenwa pointed out that, “the frustration of the masses which used to find vent in religious and ethnic tension is gradually coming to roost.”
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Sulyman AbdulKareem, represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services), Prof. Adedayo Yusuf Abdulkareem, described the theme of the Conference as very apt.
According to him, Nigeria is a nation committed to religion as number of mosques and churches abound all over the place.
“In recent times, we are seeing shrines all over the place and yet what religion is expected to do in man’s life are still lagging behind in Nigeria,” the VC added.
The VC expressed the hope that the outcome of the conference will contribute significant solutions to problems confronting the Nigerian society.
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