By “influence” is meant ability to get others to act, think, or feel as one intends. However, influence as a word in this context carries weight than its vocabulary strength when it comes to politics. Everyone has influence in way or the other. This influence is equally seen in religion as the use of power of influence to remain at the top of governance in Nigerian politics. Influence can be synonymous to forceful domination, lobbying, and consistent control, having increase in promotion of ideology without intrusion and also ruling out conscience effects. Nigeria has been on the influence roll of religion from womb, to the delivery and also as she grows in all structures. Before, during and post-colonial rules, Nigeria suffers the negative effects of religions influence and also enjoys the good impact of the influence. However, politics in Nigeria still sails on the boat of religion due to her diversity in ethnics, landmass and religious ideology. To really know the level of influence, there is need to know some facts about Nigeria and her religious diversities.
THE STRUCTURE OF RELIGION IN NIGERIA
Religion has always been important in Nigeria and in Nigerian politics. “The intensity of religious identity in Nigeria is regarded as one of the highest in the world”. This claim is supported by the fact that Nigerians are more likely to define themselves in terms of religion than any other identity. Indeed, according to the authoritative May-June 2006 survey on Religion and Public Life conducted by the Pew Forum on “Religion and Public Life”, 76% of Christians say that religion is more important to them than their identity as Africans, Nigerians or members of an ethnic group. Among Muslims, the number naming religion as the most important factor is even higher (91%). In effect, Christian and Muslim identities have been the mainstay of religious differentiation and conflict, with Nigerian Muslims much more likely to evince or articulate a religious identity than Christians. The CIA Factbook lists Nigeria as 50% Muslim, 40% Christian, and 10% indigenous beliefs. The intensity of religious identity in Nigeria is regarded as one of the highest in the world. Relations between Muslims and Christians exhibit some tension to national politics which remain extraordinarily complex, with the country divided regionally, ethnically, and religiously. The Igbo people make up 18% of the population, live in the eastern region, and are predominantly Christian. The Yoruba people comprise 21% of the population, live in the southwestern region, and are half Muslim and half Christian. The Hausa-Fulani account for 29% of the population, live in the north, and practice Islam. Nigeria contains both zones, so religion is often intertwined with regional (three northern and three southern regions) and federal-state (36 states) issues. In the 2007 presidential elections, all three major parties nominated a northern Muslim for president and a southern Christian for vice-president. When the southern Christian president unsuccessfully sought to change the constitution so he could serve a third term, it caused great tension within the system.
According to a Pew Survey, most of the country’s Christians (62%) say they trust people from other religions only a little or not at all. A similar percentage of Nigeria’s Muslims (61%) say they trust people of other religions little or not at all. Nigeria is usually characterized as a deeply divided state in which major political issues are vigorously and or violently contested along the lines of the complex ethnic, religious, and regional divisions in the country. From its inception as a colonial state, Nigeria has faced a perennial crisis of territorial or state legitimacy, which has often challenged its efforts at national cohesion, democratization, stability and economic transformation. The high point of the crisis seems to have been the civil war in the late 1960s, which ensued shortly after independence in 1960. Since Nigeria’s transition to civilian rule in 1999 there has been a rapid increase of conflicts in the country. Since 2009 to date, seeking for religion autonomy has now caused the highest woeful identity for Nigeria on the note of influencing politics to her ideology. Bombing and killing are result of religious imposition on politics on Nigeria. It is this unique religious divide that prompted Archbishop Onaiyekan to describe the country as “the greatest Islamo-Christian nation in the world” by which he meant that Nigeria is the largest country in the world with an evenly split population of Muslims and Christians, and “really the test case of the ‘clash of civilizations,’”.
However, the diversity of religion with political influence could be traced to amalgamation period. It will not be correct to say that Nigeria was created with a faulty foundation. The interest of its creators was not to build a nation, but to find an area for exploration. The administrative, political, social and economic system they adopted and employed was to facilitate this one goal. Nigeria was born as a result of the scramble and partition for Africa by imperial Europe. In 1884, leading European nations net in Berlin and divided Africa into nations to end terrestrial struggle among them. Unfortunately, there was no African represented. From here they proceeded with the conquest of Southern and Northern territories, When the conquest was completed in 1903 they divided the nation into North and South Protectorates and the Colony of Lagos. In 1906 the Lagos colony was amalgamated with the Southern Protectorate to become the Southern Protectorate. Nigeria evolved as a nation when the Southern and Northern Protectorates were amalgamated in 1914 by Lord Frederick Lugard who also became the first Governor General of Nigeria. The North was dominated by the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group while the West was dominated the Yoruba and the East by the Ibos. The amalgamation really caused the problems of religion in Nigeria. This is the beginning of influence of religion in Nigeria.
CONSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE THAT GUIDES RELIGION
INFLUENCE IN NIGERIA
INFLUENCE IN NIGERIA
According to Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, it is stated that state religion is prohibited. Part II - Powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – Article 10: Prohibition of State Religion – “The Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion”. Also, Chapter IV - Fundamental Rights – Article 38: Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion – “(1) Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance. (2) No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if such instruction ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own, or religion not approved by his parent or guardian. (3) No religious community or denomination shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for pupils of that community or denomination in any place of education maintained wholly by that community or denomination.
POLITICAL STRUCTURE AND CONSTITUTION OF NIGERIA
Politically, Nigeria is a federal republic modeled after the United States, with executive power exercised by the president. The government of Nigeria is also influenced by the Westminster System model in the composition and management of the upper and lower houses of a bicameral legislature. The president, however, is the head of state, the head of government, and the head of a multi-party system. Nigerian politics takes place within a framework of a federal, presidential, representative democratic republic, in which executive power is exercised by the government. The presidential system in democracy allows both religions to nominate either Christian for the presidency and Muslim for running mate or vice versa. However, some sharia states have violated the procedures when Muslims co-run the post at state level.
THE BRIEF HISTORICAL GROWTH AND INFLUENCE OF EACH
RELIGION IN NIGERIAN POLITICS
RELIGION IN NIGERIAN POLITICS
The British colonization of Nigeria both ended the dominance of the Islamic Sokoto Empire and legitimized Muslim cultural, religious, and governance systems. British support for preexisting Islamic leadership, educational, and judicial systems thus created a unified, if less economically developed, northern Islamic political bloc. Muslim traders (wangawara) had first brought Islam to northern Nigerian urban centers in the tenth and eleventh centuries. In the middle of the eighteenth century, Muslim missionaries began to convert the rural and common people to their blend of traditional tribal practices and Qur’an-based teachings. But Sunni purists saw this blend as “impure,” and between 1804-12, the jihad of the Fulani cleric, Shehu Usman dan Fodio, replaced Hausa leaders with a new caliphate. This Sokoto Empire controlled northern Nigeria until 1903 when the British invaded and joined these northern lands to Bornu lands on the southern border. The British then protected Muslim areas from Christian missionaries since they believed the latter would destabilize colonial rule. In the North, the British made use of Muslim emirs. Their centralized administrative system gave them this advantage. The Northern emirs based their administrative system on Islamic religion. The British used them as agents of colonialism not just over Muslims but non-Muslims as well. The emirs were charged with collecting taxes, local administration, and justice. For effective administration, the North was divided into emirates, and not just the Muslims areas. This whole system can be best described as joint British-Hausa/Fulani rule and political control over the North.
Another way that Islam influences politics in the midst of Non-Muslims in the South is noted when Afonja, the powerful leader in Ilorin sought for assistance. To strengthen Ilorin's position, Afonja called on the support of Muslim elements in the kingdom. He was not a Muslim himself, and it appears to have been a piece of political opportunism, to harness forces which were proving to be invincible in the states to the north. He enlisted the help of an itinerant Fulani scholar, Alim al-Salih, better known as Mallam Alimi, who declared a jihad at Ilorin. Other support came from Yoruba Muslims led by a man called Solagberu, from pastoral Fulani, and from Muslim slaves who deserted their owners and fled to Ilorin from the adjacent towns. From these, mainly northern, elements, a military force was created which started to lay waste large areas of the Oyo kingdom. Alimi's influence among these troops grew stronger, and Afonja belatedly realised that he was no longer in control. His attempts to disband them led to a civil war, and he was killed in the fighting, probably about 1823. Solagberu was also eliminated. On Alimi's death, control of Ilorin passed to his son Abudusalami. He declared his allegiance to the Sokoto Empire and was recognized as Emir. The Fulani dynasty in Ilorin has survived to the present.
After independence, the Muslim north dominated politics. Even in the north, however, Muslim leaders split into the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), backed by Qadiriyya Sufi sect, and the Northern Elements Progressive Party Union (NEPU), backed by the more popular Tijaniyya. The Constitution divided the country into three regions: Northern, Western, and Eastern. Muslims became the Federal, Northern, and Western Prime Ministers.
The Nigerian Christian community is one of the major institutions in Nigeria. In numerical terms, it is bigger than any political party, trade union, or the rank and file of the Nigerian Army. From the 1990s to the 2000s, there was significant growth in Protestant churches in Nigeria. The Yoruba area contains a large Anglican population, while Igboland is predominantly Catholic and the Edo area is predominantly Assemblies of God. Christian missions also carried out their mission work within these two broad societies in the North. The Church in Northern Nigeria was born within three powerful contexts: (1) the traditional context, mainly in the Middle Belt areas; (2) the Islamic context, mainly in the Far North; and (3) the colonial context of British rule over the whole of Nigeria. This northern context had been transformed by the Colonial Administration and Christian missions. The consequences of this transformation in post-colonial Nigeria have influenced greatly the nature of politics and religious conflict in Nigeria.
The growth of Christianity depends on the denominational strength, unlike Islam. Christianity has less involvement in power tussle on the nation. They were mostly after the propagation of the Gospel. Though the spread was hindered by the war lord and religious leaders, and war at the inception of pioneering work of missions, yet there was diversion to where it was accepted. During that time Baptist missionary W. H. Clarke explored up to Ilorin in 1857 but was equally disallowed by the Emir from settling in the city. European missionaries of the CMS Yoruba Mission also entertained serious plans to expand their area of activities further north up to Ilorin, but two visits, one by Reverend A. Mann in 1855 and another by Reverend H. Townsend in 1858, could not persuade the Emir to open his Muslim country to Christian missionaries. Their encounter with Islam was thus restricted to engaging with Muslims in Yoruba-land. And the presence of Church affected health sector, education and civilization of the area than others that disallowed. Nevertheless a few of the leaders allowed Christianity for personal gain. During time of Bowen of Baptist Mission as a case study, Kurumi received him very cordially and told him to select any place he wished in the town on which to erect his house. That personage evidently thought the missionary was a trader, and, when he saw there were no goods for slave, and the missionary did nothing but talk to the people, he called him to task, rebuking him as a lazy person who did nothing but sit in his pizza and talk. The interest of Kurunmi who invited Bowen to Ijaiye seemed to lie in the prestige and political advantage that his town would derive from the presence of a white resident. In Abeokuta, he was on the side of those who did not want the slave trade. Other missionaries from different denominations (e.g. Rev. Henry Townsend, of the Church Missionary Society) were also in the same town as Bowen.
Christianity has distinguished itself in the areas of health care, education, the development and inspiration of African nationalism, and social relationships. What was not explicitly encouraged was active Christian participation in partisan politics. However, the missionaries laid the foundation for the church to oppose governmental policies that deprived citizens of their rights. The intimate relationship that missionaries had with the colonial masters did not stop them from opposing inhumane policies. In some ways, the lack of explicit Christian interest in politics was alleviated by its focus on the implicit socio-political emphasis in the Gospel. Today, Christianity has grown beyond the wall of the Church into politics as she formed a formidable body, CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) to speak for the Christians in government policy. Though CAN is not directly governmental body but she has impact in influencing the politics of the nation through special advice to the presidency on religious affairs, through her members in legislature, judicial and executive arm of the government.
THE ROOT OF INFLUENCE ON NIGERIAN POLITICS
1. Ideology of Sharia for good governance
In all but a handful of the 39 countries surveyed, a majority of Muslims say that Islam is the one true faith leading to eternal life in heaven and that belief in God is necessary to be a moral person. Many also think that their religious leaders should have at least some influence over political matters. And many express a desire for sharia – traditional Islamic law – to be recognized as the official law of their country. Solid majorities in most of the countries surveyed across the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia favor the establishment of sharia, including 71% of Muslims in Nigeria, 72% in Indonesia, 74% in Egypt and 89% in the Palestinian territories. Before colonization and subsequent annexation into the British Empire in 1900 as Colonial Nigeria, the Bornu Empire ruled the territory where Boko Haram, a terrorist group, is currently active. It was a sovereign sultanate run according to the principles of the Constitution of Medina, with a majority Kanuri Muslim population. In 1903, both the Bornu Sultanate and Sokoto Caliphate came under the control of the British, who used educational institutions to help spread Christianity in the region. Now in Nigeria, Boko Haram was founded as a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist sect advocating a strict form of sharia law.    Eventually, the sharia law was imposed by local authorities, beginning with Zamfara in January 2000 and covering twelve northern states by late 2002.  This is the ideology of Islam; to impose her law as the law of the nation. This actually has influenced the political structure of Nigeria. Islam jihadists use every means to appropriate their ideology into the system of the nation. From the inception, Boko Haram started good and kind just to enter the heart of the country. Mohammed Yusuf founded the sect that became known as Boko Haram in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of the north-eastern state of Borno. He established a religious complex and school that attracted poor Muslim families from across Nigeria and neighbouring countries. The center had the political goal of creating an Islamic state, and became a recruiting ground for jihadis. Yusuf attracted followers from unemployed youths.   He used the existing infrastructure in Borno of the Izala Society (Jama'at Izalatil Bidiawa Iqamatus Sunnah), a popular conservative Islamic sect, to recruit members, before breaking away to form his own faction. The Izala were originally welcomed into government, along with people sympathetic to Yusuf. The Council of Ulama advised the government and the Nigerian Television Authority not to broadcast Yusuf's preaching, but their warnings were ignored. Yusuf's arrest elevated him to hero status.
The question of using Shari’a Islamic law has generated additional public controversy since the 1970s. In the writing and ratification of the constitutions of the Second and Third Republics, the demand for a Federal Shari’a Court of Appeals created political crisis, requiring the intervention of the military. In both instances, the South interpreted the debates on Shari’a as an attempt to impose Islam on the country. There has always been a political side to the demand for the Shari’a. Its most forceful advocates are not religious preachers or scholars, but a new breed of politicians. The demand for Shari’a enables these ambitious politicians to always seek an ideology to unite the North, to halt the inroad of southern competitors to the north, and to even discredit established northern politicians who are regarded as too soft in advancing the agenda of the North.
Religious tensions between Evangelical Christians and Islamic groups have long existed, but the anticipated extension of sharia law in a number of northern states has caused increased religious tension since December 1999. For example, in Ilorin, Kwara State, fourteen churches were burnt to the ground by suspected Islamic fundamentalists. News of the introduction of sharia law on 1 January 2000 in Zamfara State led to widespread violence in February/March 2000 in which property was destroyed and more than 1,000 people were killed. A second state, Kano State, adopted Islamic law in June 2001 and in 2002, a further ten northern states followed suit. Though the Nigerian central government has openly recognized the incompatibility of sharia law with the federal constitution of the nation, President Olusegun Obasanjo has avoided intervening in decisions taken by states that apply Islamic law, merely calling for moderation. As an outspoken born-again Christian, he knows that vigorous condemnation of strict Islamic law will only inflame passions further and at the same time he fears that the spread of sharia law will increase religious tension and undermine Nigerian unity.
2. Correcting injustice
Nigerian was rated high in corruption in the world. Therefore, Islam came on board on the basis of healing the nation from the malady of injustice. The leader of the terrorist group, Shehu, is quoted: "We are doing what we are doing to fight injustice, if they stop their satanic ways of doing things and the injustices, we would stop what we are doing”   This was one of several political and religious assassinations Boko Haram carried out in 2001, with the presumed intention of correcting injustices in the group's home state of Borno. Islam adherents believe that their religion brings absolute sanity over the decadent land and the stability of this nation.
3. Indifference to Western culture in governance
In the decades since the end of British occupation, politicians and academics from the mainly Islamic North have expressed their fundamental opposition to Western education. Western culture is the product of America such as democracy in government, scientific advancement, academic and educational development, English legal system, American dressing culture, etc. Most Muslims do not necessarily agree upon a number of these major issues: the secular, or otherwise, nature of the Nigerian foundation; the distribution of federal positions to ambitious members of the political class; the continuation or not of the English legal system; the retention of Nigeria as a federal structure; and the distribution of power between the federal and states; the place of women in society and politics; the number of Nigerians and their regional distributions; the number of states and local governments in the federation, etc. The access to and manipulation of Western education has long been a source of tension. The South had an early advantage, as Christian missionaries came via the Atlantic Ocean to evangelize and promote formal Western education. When Independence came in 1960, the South had more educated elite than the North. To the North, this was a source of domination. This disparity fueled regionalism and attacks on Southerners. As the North established more Western-style schools, so too did the South, with the result that to date, that the South continue to have more educated people than the North. As economic opportunities shrink, the Southern educated people, especially the middle class and fresh graduates, have resorted to migrations to all parts of the world. To these migrants and to the jobless in the South, Muslims and the North have held the nation back and must be blamed for their predicament. As many Yoruba and Igbo in the South have said, their “nations” would have developed but for the inclusion of the North in Nigeria.
4. Ethnicity and Religious domination by region and population
It is generally believed that Northern part of Nigeria is mainly religiously dominated by Islam adherents, while South has the majority of Christians. In reality, the South is more afraid of the North. For most of the years since independence, the North has produced the majority of the country’s leaders, leading to the political concept of “northern primacy”. The British bequeathed a northern region bigger than the South combined. After independence, the northern political class used the army to control power and distribute resources to themselves. In the 1990s, a number of politicians were developing a political theory of domination: the East should control trade, the West the civil service, and the North political power. The Northerner believes that governance belongs to them as inheritance. However, the fear of this domination gave rise to suggestions on zoning, an arrangement whereby each region, a cluster of six states, would produce the country’s president in a rotational arrangement. The fear of domination is unlikely to disappear as long as religion is part of the definition of community and ethnicity in most parts of the country. In the North, minority elements define themselves as Christians, and they have actually resorted to Christianity to solidify their identity, as in the case of the Kataf of Zangon-Kataf. At the national level, the North-South divide is treated both as ethnic and religious fault lines. Nigeria is a multi-plural society, with many ethnicities and languages. Religious pluralism and ethnic differences do undermine the process of building a Nigerian nation-state. But the divisions prevent or undermine equally the attempts by one group or religion to impose itself on the country. For instance, Muslims have been accused of wanting to impose Islam on Nigeria, but mobilization by southern Christians has suggested that there would be secession or warfare. The use of Islam to promote the politics of “One North” began after 1945. Both Islam and Christianity compete for space, converts and political domination. Leaders of religious organizations use the style and language of politics, in their quest for propaganda, control of converts, and the prevention of one another from dominating the political environment.
5. Hiding under Political propaganda
Everyone that uses Islam as a tool has a mission under veil as a propaganda; to extend domination and control over the people. Muslims tolerated, temporarily, a king accepting Islam and at the same time continuing to practice the traditional religion. The king would want to straddle the fence this way because he was expected to be the father and high-priest for all his people. If a significant number of them or even a few prominent citizens adopted a particular religion that did not threaten his power, he would be expected to lead them in their religious practice, thus providing religious leadership to all groups, and not allowing it to go into political opposition. The kings found Islam a convenient support to their imperial authority, since it was a unifying ideology bridging the many tribes and presenting them with a wider brotherhood, citizenship or nationality. This produced the phenomenon of "state Islam", whereby Islam was controlled and used to promote the interests of the rulers. In history of propaganda with Islam influence, a new impetus to the spread of Islam was provided by Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the Northern Region after Nigerian independence in 1960, with his Islamization programme that led to the conversion of over 100,000 people in the provinces of Zaria and Niger. The military coup in 1966, which claimed the lives of many politicians including Ahmadu Bello, brought his Islamization programme to an abrupt end but the 1970s saw continued government policy favouring the dominance of Islam. History has shown that Islamization was easier under military dictatorship and Islam spread quickly under Ibrahim Babangida (1985-1993).
A combination of factors has made religion a powerful factor in Nigerian politics. First is the failure of political leadership. To many Muslims, Mhumar Gadaffi of Libya and Ayathola Khomeini of Iran provide alternative models to emulate. Second, the failure of institutions and structures of governance have been interpreted as the failure of the state itself. To many Muslims, the failure represents the limitations of secular institutions. Third, the Structural Adjustment Program and its failures in the 1990s instigated tensions expressed as religious conflicts. As the economy declines, more and more people see in religion an escape or a source of opposition to the state. For instance in Kano, the country’s political decay and economic problems have not only drawn more people to Islam, it has also radicalized them. Fourth, religion, like ethnicity, is a source of mobilization for political actors. Once a political candidate defines himself as a Muslim and his rival happens to be Christian, politics can acquire the coloration of religious conflict. In the North, many politicians have turned to Islam for power legitimization. There have been power rivalries with Christians and bids to impose the Shari’a over a larger region. These attempts have radicalized the Christian Association of Nigeria to contest all religious symbols and what it perceives as efforts to use Islam to dominate politics. By and large, Northern politicians have continued to profit from Islam, using its symbols as political ideology and propaganda in order to unite the region against the South and to mobilize their different constituencies.
Why does church need to influence government? From the church history, Christianity had strived highly as the center of dominion and authority fir the state. Christendom from the word ‘Christian dominion’ filled the air during the early church and Roman Empire and that was the basis for some denominational root in their nations. There was no separation of state and church. Church was powerful with all domination. In Nigeria, this foundational strength of the church (Roman Catholic Church) has influenced the government in some decisions. The presidency and some state government houses also have Christian worship center as chapel in which the presence of church is identified in governance. Church of God cannot divorce herself from history. Influencing Nigeria politics is inheritance passed on from history. This can also be expressed as the body that cares for the Christians in Nigeria against aggression. However, CAN has been accused of excessively occupying itself with Muslim aggression. At the top of CAN’s is reducing the frequency of religious violence, establishing a more cordial relationship with Islam and weakening the political influence of Muslims. The average member of CAN would say that Muslim aggression towards Christians is the sole reason for the birth of CAN. Many believe that this is the one thing that has melded the Nigerian Christian churches together and gives CAN its strength. Incidentally, CAN has been the best known channel through which Christians affected by religious violence can voice their complaints and seek compensation from the government.
2. Expansion and extension of Gospel
Another root of influence that engages Christianity in politics is to join and make policies that will expand and extend Gospel of Christ. Islam’s mission is to islamize the whole nation and block the extension of Christianity by all means. The influence will be justified when the majority of Christians stand to enact laws that allow freedom of religion and execute fairness in worship in Nigeria. Christianity became an alternative religion to “a people looking desperately for something to counter the dominance of Islam”, which they associated with Fulani political domination. Also, the advent of Christianity in the Middle Belt gave the people access to western education, which was crucial in elite formation and political mobilization. This was more so as the Christian missionaries who were restricted from operating in the Islamic emirates by the colonial administration were welcomed into the “pagan” areas.
3. Strengthening of Fundamental Human Rights
From online archive, Nigerian Fundamental Human Rights are stated. What are Human Rights? These are rights naturally accruable to every person by virtue of his/her existence as a human being. The Nigerian Constitution under Chapter IV enumerates the following as fundamental rights: Right to life; Right to dignity of human persons; Right to personal liberty; Right to fair hearing; Right to compensation for property compulsorily acquired; Right to private and family life; Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; Right to freedom of expression; Right to peaceful assembly and association; Right to freedom of movement and Right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of ethnic group, place of origin, circumstance of birth, sex, religion or political opinion. Christianity flags up influence to stand to protect national human right which Islam in some states has been violating.
THE FOUNDATIONAL STRENGTH OF ISLAMIC INFLUENCE IN NIGERIA
Islam had enjoyed some levels immunity and licentious right during and after colonial rules. In the colonial period of Nigeria Islam was favoured by several factors:
1. Pax Britannica
Pax Brittanica permitted Muslims and everyone to move freely throughout the country in pursuit of trade or livelihood. Muslims were thus able to build mosques and interact with local people throughout the country, even though the system of sabon gari isolated them somewhat from the local culture. This was not the same for Christians, who were free to move around the country, but was restricted in building churches in Muslim areas and their priests were forbidden to evangelize Muslims. The colonial conquest established a rule that active Christian preaching could not occur in the northern Muslim region, although in 1990 the two religions continued to compete for converts in the middle belt, where ethnic groups and even families had adherents of each persuasion.
2. The increase of power during system of indirect rule
The system of indirect rule for the north of Nigeria (the former Sokoto and Borno Empires) strived during colonial era. The closure of the Atlantic slave market explains the relative atrophy of the Sokoto caliphate in the second part of the 19th century, so that it had little power to resist a British take-over. Instead of sweeping away these Islamic governmental systems, as the French did in their territories, the British propped them up and increased their authority. This was notable especially in areas, such as the Middle Belt, where most of the rural people were not Muslims. Outside the caliphate, Islam already had a foothold in Etsako and the Niger-Benue confluence area because of Nupe raiding, and was present in the Yoruba towns along the route to Lagos, such as Ogbomoso, Oyo, Ibadan, Sagamu, Ijebu-Ode and Abeokua. Hausa slaves in these towns became integrated in the social and political life of these towns, and many of the chiefs declared themselves Muslims, although they continued to be actively involved in the traditional religion. In these areas Islam came to symbolize the preservation of Yoruba identity against the intrusion of British culture. For the same reason, many Yoruba Muslims resisted Western education and this left the Muslim community at a disadvantage compared with Christians who were more progressive and successful in areas where education counts.
3. Ruling the economy.
Nigeria’s denominations have been scripted with Arabic words from the inception and are meaningful only to the Muslims as a symbol of domination on the means of economy. This has great influence on the nation. The then opportune leaders were Muslims and it is to their good record that Naira still maintains the Arabic words when Nigeria is not an Arabic country. The contention on the words has gradually been removed because non-Muslims are in power.
4. Population increase strategy and Brotherhood Tactics
Islam allows polygamy and polygamy gives chances of increase in childbirth. Tactically, population increase favours Muslims. Islam encourages brotherhood. Even when your brother is not qualified or inappropriate for a position, it pays them to handover to Muslim than to non-Muslim. Islam has great influence on a nation because of numbers of people who vote and be voted for. They involve themselves so much in politics than other religion.
THE FOUNDATIONAL STRENGTH OF CHRISTIANITY INFLUENCE IN NIGERIA
1. Rapid Conversion via Formal Education
Christianity always attracts education and education attracts conversion. There is little information about religious change during the colonial period, but it is a fact that Christian schools attracted many conversions of Muslim students in the south of Nigeria. The only requisite in these schools was for all the students to take classes in religious instruction and to attend opening school prayers. Conversions occurred where parents had no objection or even encouraged their children. The influence of Christianity began with education in which the Muslims stood against because of the rapid conversion of their children. Christians, however, founded their influence on education. Though, some states in Nigeria war against that by paying West African Examination Council (WAEC) fees for only Muslim students; discriminatory school fees against non-indigenous Christian students. The missionaries’ formal education was a means to an end. Through a sustained education programme both religious evangelization and social transformation might be realized. For, as Father Shanahan suggested, 'Those who hold the school, hold the country, hold its religion, and hold its future.' For the Africans, too, the acquisition of Western education was a means to an end; education would provide the weapon with which to fight colonialism. Stewart, Dianne notes that embracing Christianity provided African captives with opportunities for leadership, education, travel, and social mobility, which were unviable to them as adherents of African religious traditions. Becoming a Christian meant having the opportunity to learn how to read and write along with opportunity to receive standard theological training. This offered converts more potential for upward mobility than ancestral religions of Africa. Ekechi adds that the writers of the era had tended to stress the utilitarian aspect of Western education as a means to higher jobs and overall economic improvement to the neglect of its ideological aspect. From 1901 both the C.M.S. and the R. C. Missions were intent on expanding their education programme.
2. Relief and Health Programme Developments
Health facilities were in place during the colonial era through the missionaries. It was a great impact to affects the lives of people that were neglected by the government of the day. Babajide notes the benefits that were in place when the missionaries entered Nigeria, especially Yoruba Land. He observes that Christianity became so successful in Abeokuta such that the town was described by Miss Tucker as “the sunrise within the tropics.” Also, the various denominations that arrived in Abeokuta were able to translate into three fold programmes of the missionaries: Christianity, commerce and civilization (western education). Although, a fourth dimension was later introduced by the Baptist Mission, which is Healthcare. All these mark the point of influence that Christianity strikes as she raises leaders in government to enforce her agenda.
3. Commercialization and Modernization
From the outset, the Christianity was seen as ideal vehicles for gaining the trust and confidence of the tribal leaders, before the real money interest moved in. It could be argued that the Christianity was one part of the wheel of business and economics that starting to turn in Nigeria, while a substitute for slaves was sought. The humanitarian touch they seemed to bring disguised these motives behind a facade of peaceful and beneficent civilization. In the predominantly-Christian and indigenous south, however, British administrators developed a more specifically Western political system. Christianity, modernization, and Westernization eventually formed a competing cultural blend. These influences really hallmark newness in business approach and economic growth. With these, Christianity still strives to rise to the political ladder to influence further for development at all levels.
4. Freedom from slavery
British Imperialism in Africa provided missionaries the opportunity to spread Christianity and the word of the Lord in aims that the people would see the evils in slave trading. As a result, Nigeria became an attractive spot for Christian missionaries. Not only did British missionaries help foster the spread of Christianity in some part of Nigeria, but also freed slaves from British Colonies. When slavery was abolished in the British Empire many freed slaves returned to Africa. Back to history, slave trade ended as Christianity in treaty endorsed with Queen of England the abolishment of slave trade. In the Abeokuta Treaty of 1852 when an agreement between Her Majesty, the Queen of England and the chiefs of the Egba nation, for the abolition of the traffic in slaves was signed at Abeokuta on the 5th of January 1852, Rev. T. J. Bowen was among the witness to the treaty that stated that:
(Article 1) The export of slaves to foreign countries is forever abolished in the territories of the chiefs of the Egba nation… (Article 2) No Europeans or any other persons whatever shall be permitted to reside within the territory of the Egba nation for the purpose of carrying on in any way the traffic of slaves… (Article 5) Europeans or any other person now engaged in the slave trade are to be expelled from the country… (Article 7) The chiefs of the Egba nation declare that no human beings shall at any time be sacrificed within their territories on account of religious or other ceremonies, and that they will prevent the barbarous practices of murdering prisoners captured in war. (Article 8) Complete protection shall be afforded to missionaries or ministers of the Gospel, of whatever nation or country, following their vocation of spreading the knowledge and doctrines of Christianity, and extending the benefits of civilization, which the territories of the chiefs of the Egba nation. Encouragement shall be given to such missionaries or minsters in pursuit of industry, in building houses for their residence, and schools and chapels. They shall be hindered or molested in their endeavours to teach the doctrine of Christianity to all person willing and desirous to be taught; nor who may embrace the Christian faith be on that account, or on the teaching or exercise thereof, molested or trouble in any manner whatever… witnesses: Henry Townsend, C.M.S.; Isaac Smith, C.M.S.; Thomas J. Bowen, Am. B. M.; F. E. Forbes, Commander R. N.
Christianity influences Nigerian politics to restore freedom and peace in the land. There is enlightenment and civilization from those who take opportunity of ignorance to rule.
THE BAD EFFECT OF CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM ON NIGERIAN POLITICS
Even though Christianity and Islam have contributed positively to the growth of the country; they have also created a history of conflict and or violence. This includes a war of words motivated by conflicting beliefs: A good Muslim is one who is able to withstand Christian conversion tactics and campaigns. A good Christian is also one who is able to confront Islam and challenge the Quran’s authority. These beliefs sanction symbolic violence, and Muslims and Christians use each other’s sacred writings to perpetuate stereotypes that “express fear and anxiety about the domination of other..., reflect a narrow extremist subculture of either their community or their religious group”. Violence begins with the differentiation, dehumanization, stigmatization, and demonization of others. It takes place in cleavages, which Falola describes as marginalized and defensive groups - Christian minorities, the Islamic majority, Southern Christian Intelligentsia, Northern Moslem Intelligentsia, Intra-Religious groups, Reformist groups, and State establishments. These cleavages are “fairly permanent,” and their violence could be a quest for freedom from domination, or perceived threat to their socio-political position.
Similarly, there has been a corresponding upsurge in Christian extremism expressed in the rise of revival and Pentecostal movements in the 1970s. Christian fundamentalists regard themselves as engaged in a three-pronged conflict: with Muslims, with mainstream Christians whom they accuse of abandoning the basics of their faith, and followers of traditional religion. Just like the Muslim fundamentalists, they also seek to expand their support base, hence conversion and poaching of followers of other religions through stereotypes, hate preaching, distortion, misrepresentation and misinterpretation of the various religious texts in such manners that promoted prejudice and intolerance in both camps. Such intolerance could be deciphered form the following exhortations attributed to the Pentecostal community:
When a non-believer in Christ strikes a Christian, the latter (Christian) should stand up erect and look at the former direct in the face. A look can many times transform the non-believer, can pierce and melt the heart.... But there are moments when the Christian like the master should take up his whip and flog sense into people. Moments of open and direct confrontation may sometimes be called for. On no account should a Christian take himself as the one who always has to bear the stroke of the other. There are moments when he has to stand up on his two feet and say like the fly, ‘No’ to the huge cow! We Christians in Nigeria want peace and unity of the nation. But on no account shall we compromise our religion for any or both of them.
To be sure, Muslim-Christian conflict could be part of the dynamics of identity politics, and may not be dysfunctional as long as the rights of other Nigerians are respected. Rather, as Amadi noted, Nigerian politics is built on the appeasement of religion. Religion then becomes a deity that proves difficult to be overpowered and equally incapable of decisively breaking out of the constraints of liberal legality. In the elite’s intense struggle for access to power and state resources, “patterns of political domination are constantly being transformed. It is this constantly changing pattern of domination that has produced the fears and anxieties that underlie increasing conflict and intolerance”. Since the return to democratic rule in 1999 after almost three decades of military rule, ethno-religious conflicts have been a recurring decimal in Nigeria. Religious strife between Christians and Muslims in northern Nigeria and its ripples in other parts of the country has left thousands dead, wounded, and rendered many homeless over the years. For instance, as claimed by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, at least 12, 000 people have been killed in sectarian and communal attacks and reprisal between Muslims and Christians (US Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2009).
Despite the National interfaith dialogue that takes place between the establishment national religious organizations, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), the act of violence reprisal never ceased. Local Christian-Muslim clashes, therefore, often embody national political, ethnic, regional, and economic tensions despite the fact that there are no religious or ethnic parties, and neither religious nor ethnic questions are allowed on the national census.
Religion becomes a very powerful force during adverse conditions. During the economic crisis in Nigeria, the people segregated themselves by their religions, and the elites took advantage. Political actors have turned religious terrain into battle ground for contesting perceived marginalization and to gain political recognition and support from their communities (172). The enemy called ‘religion influence’ has negatively wasted many lives in Nigeria and still ready to fight on. Who will occupy the throne of Nigerian politics? Only peaceful coherence with one another will save Nigeria, looking forward again for another election of 2015.
MALICIOUS INFLUENCE OF ISLAM ON NIGERIAN POLITICS
1. Attempt of extermination of Christianity
The influence of Islam on Nigeria and her politics is gradually becoming cold war against other religion, especially Christianity. A plea of a noble Nigerian is quoted: "We are also worried that the Christians are been systematically eliminated by members of the Boko Haram Islamic extremists. We are forced to believe that the whole attack is a deliberate plan to exterminate Christians living in the affected areas." The church leaders urged the government not to downplay the events that have been taking place including killings and kidnappings. The leaders believe, “the whole onslaught is a deliberate attempt to exterminate Christians in the captured region.” Though the Muslims gain power to dominate, the excess of power now launches threat against the survival of Christians. Islam had gained ground earlier enough to hinder Christianity who was the threat to her to dominate the country. In 1842 Thomas Freeman founded the first Methodist Church in Abeokuta a village in southern Nigeria, and in 1844 the CMS (Church Missionary Society) arrived in the same village. Yet, Christianity was not as attractive as Islam was in the North. It was hard to convince many Nigerians to follow “the white man’s Lord.” The Islamic faith had such a strong impact on many northern cities, and missionaries found it impossible to convince people outside of southern Nigeria the benefits of Christianity, even till date. As part of extermination which was seen as a step toward “improving” the standards of the Nigerian education system, General Mohammed ordered the takeover of mission schools in the northern states with “immediate effect” (his trademark). What made his actions suspicious was the changing of the mission schools’ names to Islamic instead of neutral names. It was alleged that the Queen of Apostles school in Kaduna was renamed the Queen Amina College. Queen Amina was a Muslim warrior who led men ¡n her conquest of the Zazzau emirate. St. John’s College, in Kaduna, was renamed Rimi College. The Sardauna Memorial College, taken over from Islam, was left as it was. Christian chapels were converted to assembly halls, and mosques were raised in the schools at government expense. All these are malicious influence on Nigerian politics.
2. Danger of Islamization of Nigeria
The Muslims’ call for autonomy flies in the face of Nigeria’s secular tradition. The constitution does not allow elevating any religion to a state religion. Yet this principle is violated when governors in the North use state authority to islamize public life. In Zamfara, the first state to introduce a strict form of Sharia, the government claimed that its religious reform was bringing about major changes: all spheres of public life are being transformed into Islamic oriented institutions. This state-sponsored Islamization affected non-Muslims as well, as they were subjected to some Sharia proscriptions like the ban on alcohol and the gender separation in hotels and restaurants, in buses and taxis. In Zamfara’s state schools, boys and girls were separated without regard to their faith. In addition, all girls and young women were forced to conform to the Islamic dress code. By declaring the Will of God the highest authority, Sharia politicians have given believers permission to disregard all man-made laws and agreements that are at variance with Islam. This undermined the legitimacy of the Christian President, and it also threatens the authority of the emirs and other representatives of the Islamic establishment. The call to shape state and society by the rules of Islam has increased antagonism between Muslims and members of other faiths. Christians and Traditionalists are worried that Islamic law may spread to other parts of Nigeria and that it may pervade more spheres of social life. Where Sharia becomes dominant, non-Muslims are excluded, to a large extent, from political participation, and their social environment is determined by the laws of an alien religion.
3. Weakening the educational system and Marginalization of Christians
Islam influence is relatively bias. Some sects do want to promote western education while some still want to maintain Islam ideology and still enjoy benefit of western culture. There is the Ansarud-deen which is also conservative, but promotes Western education. And there are branches of the Muslim Students Society and various other youth groups influenced by Saudi Wahhabi ideas calling for a reformed purist Islam.
The ignorant ones will end up illiterate and be useless to them mainly to be adherents to Islam alone. In opposing the ideology of Sharia, Christians had based their arguments not only on their conviction that Islamic values will be imposed more rigorously on Christian’s everyday life, but also the fact that the extant marginalization that Christians suffer in the state will be intensified. Such cases of marginalization, according to them, include the non-appointment of Christians to political offices, especially the executive council ; the payment of the WAEC fees for only Muslim students; discriminatory school fees against non-indigenous Christian students; the conscripted space for Christian evangelism, a point underscored by inability of Christians to get land to build churches, and the stoppage of a film on Jesus in November 2000, a month to the formal adoption of Sharia in Kebbi. Where there is extensive poverty and political mismanagement, Islamic radicalism is unstoppable.
4. Forceful imposition of ideology
For almost 40 years, the Islamic elite of Northern Nigeria had dominated the political scene, without a government making efforts to introduce an Islamic penal code. The former president Shehu Shagari, for example, who suddenly emerged as a champion of Sharia, had never tried to pass new criminal laws while he was in office. Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator, took a similar stance. With the dawn of democracy, he joined the Sharia activists and assured his coreligionists: “I can die for the cause of Islam”. Boko Haram as the major impostor of Islamic ideology seeks to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, and opposes the Westernizing of Nigerian society that has concentrated the wealth of the country among small political elite, mainly in the Christian south of the country.  Growing distrust in political leadership, a lack of government presence and chronic underdevelopment created the perfect context for radical groups to take root and flourish in northern Nigeria. To enforce the ideology, in April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from Chibok, Borno. More than 50 of them soon escaped, but the remainder has not been released. Instead, Shekau, who has a reward of $7 million offered by the US DOS since June 2013 for information leading to his capture, announced his intention of selling them into slavery. The attack on Gwoza signaled a change in strategy for Boko Haram, as the group continued to capture territory in north-eastern and eastern areas of Borno, as well as in Adamawa and Yobe. Attacks across the border were repelled by the Cameroon military. In a video obtained by the news agency AGF (Agence France-Presse) on 24 August 2014, Shekau announced that Gwoza was now part of an Islamic caliphate. The town of Bama, 45 miles from the state capital Maiduguri, was reported to have been captured at the beginning of September, resulting in thousands of residents fleeing to Maiduguri, even as residents there were themselves attempting to flee. The militants were reportedly killing men and teenage boys in the town of over 250,000 inhabitants. This imposition has really caused conflict that made many of children displaced; they were not able to attend school. Furthermore, many of the individuals involved in these conflicts acquire severe injuries that ultimately handicap them. Therefore it limits the economic activities the handicapped can engage in thus making them economically dependent, and in most cases leading many to the streets begging and increasing homeless refugee in a country with sovereignty.
EVIL OF CHRISTIANITY INFLUENCE IN NIGERIAN POLITICS
1. Hypocrisy, Corruption and Loss of ethics
Christian influence would have become great and continuous-impacting but the sorrow of corruption has bitten the veins of Christian leaders who have selfish ambition in the name of God and still influence politics to themselves. Boer identifies the problem of Christian influence in politics as he notes that "the first is the corruption that has penetrated every level of society”. The church is still guilty of many types of corruption that characterize the society as a whole. Many church members have failed in displaying their Christian ethics in nation building. Jude Arogundade, a catholic priest laments on the issue that, despite the fact that some Christians are in power, corruption still thrives in the country. There are many Christians in politics that are good and ready to do the right thing as well as very dedicated and selfless. We also have many of them too who are just out there to cause problems, make money and loot the treasury. He notes further that still on corruption, some of the indicted politicians still come to church immediately after serving their jail terms. Don’t you think the church should enforce some punitive measures on them as deterrence to others? To some extent, the church had been complacent in standing its ground against some (Christian) politicians who are corrupt, dishonest and indicted.
Iheanyi Enwerem in his book, Dangerous Awakening: The Politicization of Religion in Nigeria laments on the political activities of CAN and how politicians have always used religion for their advantage. Idowu Samuel, an online news writer, quoted Justice Ayoola, the Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), saying that the leader of churches in Nigeria should start by preaching the value of integrity, which according to him had initially formed the cultural value of the citizens of the country, as he urged church leaders to begin the process by reflecting the value of integrity in their own conduct. However, church is corrupted by its fruits and the leaders. We have lost our responsibility by be charged again from political end reminding church its glorious duty to implant Christian ethics in its members as an ambassador of God and the church at large. The influence of Christianity is gradually affecting other religions to be corrupt. No one can trust a Christian in power because of history of propaganda perpetrated. Corruption in the church and Christian bodies need check and balance to save the future of Nigerian politics.
2. Adverse effect of neglect of church from state
Christianity was after slave freedom, commerce and evangelism and not to dominate. Evangelism, commerce and the abolition of the slave trade came together in the Niger expedition of 1841. The aims of this were to explore the interior, to make treaties with the local peoples, to evangelize, and to establish a model farm at Lokoja. Firstly, Christianity only then intensified the study of the Yoruba language and its reduction to Roman script. The Bible was translated by Crowther and others, and both Crowther and Bowen produced important Yoruba grammars and dictionaries. Townsend was producing a newspaper in Yoruba in Abeokuta by 1859. Secondly, extensive first-hand information on the interior began to appear, both in the mission reports and in published memoirs. A further effect was to influence British policy towards the area, and especially towards Lagos. All these were done as a church on missions but separated from ruling system of the land. Everyone was busy preaching but politics was far from the church. That is why the gap is still wide to fill. Muslims join politics to make policy that will affect Christianity. The influence level of Islam is very huge and deep to Christianity. Christians only endure what is done on their behalf without options because they ignored state affairs from the church.
FEW SUGGESTED CONTROL MEASURE ON RELIGIOUS
INFLUENCE IN NIGERIAN POLITICS
INFLUENCE IN NIGERIAN POLITICS
1. Separation of state and religion
Various governments in Nigeria have not stood very clear on the relationship between state and religion. The Nigerian constitution is not very clear either. Its provisions for religions matters are almost contradictory. On the one hand, it says that Nigeria is a secular state and that the federal or state government shall not adopt any religion as state religion, but on the other hand, it has provision for the establishment of the sharia court of appeal which gives room for the establishment of the Sharia law. Because the government and the constitution have failed to clearly separate religion from the state or politics it is difficult for religions to make the separation. The religious influence should be made clear in constitution and also be followed. The adherence to constitution without lobbying by religion sentiment will actually move Nigeria forward and be free of religious violence.
2. Interfaith approaches
Religious beliefs and values are expressed within the faith community and in society. In a peace-building process, religious actors are important agents who collaborate with others to resolve conflict and effect transformation within society. It is hence more advantageous if, for example, religious actors are formally trained to become advocates, mediators, and apostles of peace. Such people make a valuable contribution to religious education, mobilization for peace, and advocacy and network building for sustained dialogue in moving society towards greater integration. Whenever the issue of influence is treated with oneness as a body, not as separated religion, there will be peaceful growth and stability in the nation. However, National interfaith dialogue takes place between the establishment national religious organizations, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). The Sultan of Sokoto, since March 2007 Alhaji Muhanmmad Sa'ad Abubakar, is the formal head of Nigeria's Muslims. The National Interreligious Council (NIREC), which consists of twenty-five Muslim and twenty-five Christian leaders, was revived in fall 2007, partly through the influence of the new sultan, who serves as co-chair, along with the president of CAN. This can further strengthen the relationship to jointly influence the politics aright.
Consequently the effects of this religious influence and its crisis has thwarted the development of the body polity and has given the impression that the problem has nothing useful to offer to the progress of Nigeria as a growing nation. Furthermore, it has affected the “democratic norms and values and has consistently presented Nigeria as one big disunited and largely polarized”. Having a nation of many diverse religions and ethnicities has caused many problems, and instead of being a strong point of Nigeria it has become a weakness. Furthermore, rather than being one nation it has become many nations within one. These religious crises have more often than not resulted in loss of lives and violation of human freedoms. In order for Nigeria to move in a productive path in the 21st century, there is need to understand unity in diversity in religion, and also to forget the erroneous game of regional partition of colonial masters to favour a religion to other. New approaches of interfaith be introduced and religious orientation on good governance be preached by the religious leaders. However, Nigeria had been for over 100years, and religion has held loosed occasionally because of selfishness of some leaders, there is need to hold her again with common interest of influencing politics with selfless motive and unity of the nation.
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