Religion, tolerance and national development: The Nigerian experience

  • F Etim


Tolerance as the ability to bear with one another inspite of differences either in opinion, belief or knowledge is an indispensable factor for any meaningful progress and development of any nation. To a keen observer of the daily happenings in Nigeria, religious tolerance is more than a topical issue because of its relevance to the survival of the Nigerian nation. It is a fact that the fear of religious intolerance seems to grip the Nigerian nation as a fear of an epidemic. It is not that the problem is restricted to Nigeria, as other countries of the world have had or are having their fair share of this ugly malady. However, the Nigerian situation is peculiar, regarded sometimes as worst considering the spate, and unpredicted nature of the phenomenon. Infact, a little argument between two truck pushers is enough to escalate into outright violence of unimaginable magnitude; most times given religious undertones. Recently, a cartoon in far away Denmark's The New Straits Times (NST) about Mohammed on September 30 2005 led to unprecedented and wanton destruction of lives and property in Maidugri six months laterOne tends to wonder what could have been the cause of this present scenario as history can testify to the fact that this had hitherto not been the case before the eighty's at least in magnitude and frequency. What could then have led to this ugly situation? Is it that Nigerians have suddenly become more religious conscious than before? Or is religion being politicized for some ulterior motives? What are the possible effects of religious intolerance to the Nigerian nation? Putting it differently, can there be any meaningful progress and development within the backdrop of religious intolerance and violence? This paper seeks to answer these questions.

Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 8(1) 2005:53-58

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eISSN: 1119-443X