Home Opinion Religion and Politics in Nigeria: A Mutual Weapon of Control

Religion and Politics in Nigeria: A Mutual Weapon of Control

Religion and Politics in Nigeria: A Mutual Weapon of Control
L-R: Babatunde Raji Fashola, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Bola Ahmed Tinbu

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. — Seneca

Religion and politics have been mutual weapons of control throughout history, often serving as tools for maintaining or challenging the status quo — the former has always been the case in Nigeria.

Nigerians have been taught to respect their elders, particularly religious and traditional leaders. This unchecked cultural belief has created zombies who can’t question anything and must comply, even if it means giving up their rights.

For centuries, these twin pillars of power shaped Nigeria’s beliefs and values and profoundly influenced the status quo. From the mouths of religious leaders to the corridors of government, the marriage of religion and politics has often been employed to sustain existing power structures and stifle dissent.

At the heart of this mutually beneficial relationship is the legitimisation of authority, even if it is an illegitimate administration.

How Does Religion and Politics Work?

Religion’s role extends beyond mere legitimacy to encompass social control and conformity. Embedded within religious doctrines are moral codes and norms that regulate individual behaviour and societal values.

Politicians exploit these beliefs to enforce social conformity, discouraging dissent and disobedience. By harnessing the power of religious institutions to propagate these norms, they ensure the preservation of the status quo.

In times of social unrest or political discontent, leaders often invoke spiritual concerns to quell unrest and discourage challenges to their authority. Pastor Enoch Adeboye recently portrayed a nonsensical expression, “Nigeria’s problem is spiritual“.

Words like these direct the focus away from government and towards transcendent ideals. They effectively neutralise opposing voices demanding that government responsibilities be met to shield the existing power structure.

Propaganda and ideological control further entrench the nexus between religion and politics. Through skilful manipulation of religious narratives and symbols, political elites mould public opinion and justify their negligence.

By framing political agendas in religious terms, they tap into deep-seated beliefs and emotions, portraying their actions as righteous and legitimate, thus cementing their hold on power.

Nigerian politicians align themselves with religious authorities to uphold societal norms, entrench inequality, and resist challenges to their dominance.

Meanwhile, amid all of these exists the potential for change. Just as religion has been used to uphold the status quo, hunger, insecurity, and inflation can also be a force for resistance and liberation.

Religion ought to speak for the oppressed and advocate for social justice, offering a powerful counter-narrative to the entrenched power of the political elite, but the opposite is the case.

The zombies are waking up to take their positions back, and it is only a matter of hunger, insecurity, and economic setbacks before the massive awakening. And it is already happening.

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