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Like Yari, Like Yerima: Religion as Mask

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By James Ogunjimi

When German revolutionary, Karl Marx called religion the “opium of the masses”, I don’t think he realised the extent to which that was correct even on a global scale.

Our own Baba Fela sang about this too, throwing a few jabs the way of Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and other political actors in then Nigeria.

If there is a book called “Religion and Politics for Dummies”, I’m sure every Nigerian politician would have read it and cherish it above even the Nigerian constitution.

For those who still remember, Ahmad Yerima, former Governor of Zamfara who is now in the Senate representing Zamfara West. He’s the man who loves marrying children and defended his right to. He divorced a 17-year old to marry a 15-year old. He’s the apostle of Sharia law, committed to enthroning Sharia in Nigeria’s north.

In Zamfara, people have had their limbs and wrists amputated for stealing bulls and bicycles. And across the state, there are several prisoners awaiting their turn to have their hands or limbs cut off for varying offences according to Sharia Law.

But see, this is where it becomes tricky. The same Senator Yerima was accused by the ICPC of embezzling his state’s funds. And he didn’t submit himself to be tried in a Sharia court under Sharia laws but in a regular court under Nigerian laws. Talk about hypocrisy, huh?

Look at his successor, Governor Abubakar Yari. Yes, that’s the man that said meningitis is a punishment from God on sinners. The same man was discovered by EFCC to have stolen from the Nigerian Governors Forum to build a hotel in Lagos.

This is how it has always been. Religion is used to regulate the activities of the poor while the rich can afford to be selectively-religious.

In the Nigerian Senate, the gender equality bill was struck out based on religion. How can women want to be equal with men when the holy books say different?

Religion has always been used as excuse when certain persons bent on keeping their people down want to get their way at all cost. Remember how the attempt to establish a film school in Kano got kicked out and resisted to the point where whatsapp messages flew around everyday alleging an attempt to erode morality in Nigeria’s north.

Ironically, the same people at the forefront of these battles to keep their people down live the kind of affluent lifestyles that betray the things they teach. The same people that condemn others have so many flaws that they hide away while they criticize and criminalize the way of life of their subordinates.

Until we get to a point where we elevate reasoning and critical thinking above the selfish dictates of persons seeking to have their people on a leash, we will not have achieved very much.

And persons who judge others under religious laws should be tried under religious laws when caught doing wrong and the punishment their crime deserves should be served under their religion’s laws.

 

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