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Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has warned Nigeria against the dangers of religion bigotry, saying it could lead to unimaginable disasters if the growing fanatical approach to issues of faith was moderated. “If we do not tame religion in Nigeria, religion will kill us,” he said emphatically at the launch of a book, Religion and the Making of Nigeria, by Prof. Ayo Vaughan, in Abuja, adding: “Many Nigerians have paid the ultimate price because of religion and religion is now embedded in our society.”
Soyinka, who spoke against the background of the recent killings in Southern Kaduna that had continued to fuel mutual mistrust among the diverse ethnic and religious groups in the country, said given the depth of the disharmony religion had caused among Nigerians, it had become necessary for government to encourage a more in-depth knowledge of religion that should be taught in the nation’s schools.
“I would canvass for religious studies but not the study of religion,” he said, adding: “The innocent ones are the ones who often pay the ultimate price in religious crisis. Even as religious leaders cannot denounce the murdering acts of religion.”
He regretted that religion was inducing trauma and anxiety instead of solace that it claimed it could give, explaining that religion had become an ironic product of human inadequacy.
“There is a monster always waiting to pounce on innocent Nigerians under the name of religion,” Soyinka said.
The Nobel laureate decried the handling of killing of over 800 citizens in Southern Kaduna by both Governor Nasir el-Rufai and President Muhammadu Buhari.
He decried the admission by el-Rufai that he paid killers of Southern Kaduna people to stop the carnage.
He said: “What astonished me was not the admission by the governor but the astonishment of others at such governmental response to atrocity. There was nothing new about it. Has appeasement to religious forces not become a Nigerian face of justice and equity? First lethargy and then appeasement. Wasn’t Boko Haram’s Muhammed Yusuf a beneficiary of appeasement in a similar fashion?
“If you ask why General Buhari did not act fast enough when these events take place, which degrade us as human beings, well it is perhaps he has been waiting for the governor of that state to send money to the killers first for them to stop the killing.”
He said it was no longer enough for religious leaders to simply condemn violence perpetrated by their followers.
“What, however, concerns the rest of us no matter the internal wrangling, rivalries or controversies within any religion, is that the innocent are often those who pay the highest price. The non-adherents to one line of belief or another.
Soyinka noted that religion in the history of Africa “has been a disastrous venture, a disaster in many zones and continues to be even so today.”


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