From Multiculturalism to Humanistic Secularism: Harnessing Nigeria's Cultural Diversity
The Nigerian state is deeply polarised along ethnic and religious contours, with a widening gulf between the poor masses and the rich few, which reflects the culpability of the ruling elite. However, the actual character of the class struggle is often blurred by the politicization of ethno-cultural and religious differences in a manner that undermines political order and national unity. Ethnicity and religion are thus usedby the political class to manipulate the citizens' consciousness of their ethno-cultural and religious identities to serve the masked parochial class interests. This has made the political arena very volatile and conflict-laden. Stemming the tide of this incessant clash of values and violent ethno-religious conflicts requires a creative adaptation of multiculturalism and secularism. This paper defended a sophisticated understanding of state in the globalization era, which includes citizens' appreciation of their cultural differences, mediated by consciousness of their shared humanity and a strong commitment to the ideals of a civilized community. It argued for a genuinely humanistic secularization of state affairs, harnessing of the country's diverse cultural heritage, and promotion of religious accommodation rather than cultural assimilation and the interference of religion in state affairs, or vice versa.
Key Words: multiculturalism, humanistic secularism, cultural diversity, cultural integration, national unity
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