As fraudulent as organised religion is, it is clearly the bane of Nigeria’s journey to development. Rather than positively affecting the struggling country, it is one factor that has ensured that it has kept Nigeria stunted in every facet of development.
Since Nigeria became self-ruing, the country has remained a slave to organised religion. Armed with this knowledge, dubious politicians have mastered the wicked act of manipulating and weaponising the sentiments accruing from it to secure the sympathy of the people at every election cycle.
Due to the emotive conditioning of Nigerians, they have remained pawns in the hands of these dangerous politicians. In active connivance with bigoted, short-sighted religious leaders, these politicians have continued to supply abject poverty and poor living standards to the people while hiding their failures behind their religious creed.
Many Nigerians have failed to realise that allowing organised religion to becloud their sense of critical thinking is the reason the country has failed to develop despite the abundant resources it is endowed with. Rather than demand accountability from their elected leaders, they have been manipulated to believe that God knows their problems and only him can solve them.
One of the deadliest active politicians in Nigeria who have grown notoriety for playing politics of religion is the outgone Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai. He has become so rooted in religious politics so much that, unlike his liberal colleagues, he is now a chronic bigot.
The former governor was in the news again for the wrong reasons a fortnight ago when he was captured in a tape telling a group of Islamic leaders how the Islamic dominance in Kaduna which according to him had come to stay was going to be successfully replicated at the federal level.
To show how deeply bigoted he was and the insincerity of the agenda he wanted to drive, El-Rufai spoke in Hausa Language just so his message deeply resonates with his target audience. Those versed in the language have translated it to say that El-Rufai sniggered that Bola Tinubu’s emergence as President has silenced the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, which is the umbrella body of Christians in the country. El-Rufai did not stop there, He went on to vow that he would ensure an uninterrupted Islam-dominated government in Kaduna and Nigeria for the next 20 years and even beyond.
By El-Rufai’s standards, the only way to maintain peace in a deeply divided Nigeria was through a well-orchestrated Islamic dominance. In his small mind, the only way to settle the religious polarisation in Kaduna that has caused the death of thousands was to stuff the mouth of the ‘noisy’ CAN with Muslim-Muslim political lactogen.
For those oblivious of El-Rufai’s antecedents, his comments came off as deeply surprising. It was expected that since El-Rufai and his colleague-politicians had succeeded in ensuring that Kaduna State and Nigeria were now highly volatile and religiously-charged, such bigoted comments shouldn’t have come from a former governor in his late sixties who is supposed to be a bridge builder and elder statesman. However, those who know the diminutive Islamic fundamentalist know that there is nothing really surprising about his actions.
It is generally expected that in life, the position one has attained plays no small role in mellowing the activism in him or her. However, in the case of El-Rufai, the reverse is the case. His ill-contrived Islamic activism, ethno-religious bigotry, and unhindered chauvinism appear to be aging with him. He managed to carve an ugly identity for himself as a man that courts controversy and revels in it, even at the cost of public good. He is never tired of playing stupid games with issues of national importance, even at the expense of people’s lives. To him, everything is politics, and politics is everything.
El-Rufai’s bigotry is not new. As a sitting Governor, he flagrantly disregarded the complex religious and cultural sensitivities of Kaduna when he went against all odds to appoint a fellow Muslim, Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, as his running mate, manipulated himself to power and carried on as if it did not matter. He even encouraged his successor and protégé, Senator Uba Sani, to follow the odious step, and just as he claimed, that was his permanent solution.
The problem with El-Rufai is that he doesn’t know his limits or maybe doesn’t care about them. In the build-up to the 2019 presidential elections, he openly threatened international election observers who were coming to monitor the rigging of the All Progressives Congress, APC was planning to unleash. El-Rufai shamelessly went on on national television to threaten that those observers will return in body bags if they do not behave themselves. What a man! El-Rufai speaks without tact and often describes himself as blunt. El-Rufai is simply a delusional nuisance with hidden psychotic issues.
During his screening for ministerial appointment in 2003 under the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency, El-Rufai came out to announce that he was asked to offer bribes by senators to be confirmed as minister when this same unstable character was pressed to provide evidence to back up his claims, he chickened out like the coward that he is claiming that Allah was his witness.
His chameleonic character is unmatched. The same man that went to Lagos to teach members of the APC in the state how to destroy godfathers in an apparent dig at Tinubu is the same El-Rufai that gathered jobless clerics to thank them for helping the same Tinubu to manipulate their followers to win. El-Rufai’s antecedents clearly show that all that matters to him is his interest at any point, and he can do anything to achieve it.
It is apparent that El-Rufai is currently courting Tinubu’s attention, and he is willing to do anything to have it. However, he must be reminded that while pursuing his personal interests at the expense of people’s lives, there should be red lines that one must not cross. He must be reminded that he cannot be allowed to create the bubble and move on, as he has always done simply because he is the poster boy of the Fulani Oligarchy in Nigeria. He should and must be stopped from his antics before they inflict enormous harm on Kaduna State and the country at large.
El-Rufai must be duly prosecuted for his highly flammable comments to send a powerful message to other politicians and religious leaders both on the Christian and Muslim sides who consider themselves untouchables. Extremists’ views and careless comments such as those are ones that are capable of pushing a country to the precipice and setting it on the edge.
Recent reports by the people of Southern Kaduna, under the aegis of Atyap Community Development Association (ACDA), indicate that under El-Rufai’s watch, 518 people were killed, 20 villages ransacked, 18 burnt down, and thousands of victims rendered refugees across many communities from 2017 till date, over the persistent attacks and killings in Atyapland in Zangon Kataff Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The figure speaks volumes of what lies ahead if he is allowed to forge on with his Islamisation agenda across the country.
In conclusion, it is high time all men and women of good conscience rose to the occasion and proffer lasting solutions to the lingering challenges facing the entire country which are, no doubt, rooted in ethnic and religious chauvinism. People like El-Rufai have no place in leadership in a decent society.