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A Dangerous Awakening

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Iheanyi M. Enwerem

Chapter Five

The Politicization of Christianity in Nigeria

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Still it cried, ‘Sleep no more’ to all the house;
‘Glamis hath murder'd sleep; and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more — Macbeth shall sleep no more’

(Macbeth, Act II, Scene ii)

1This chapter will examine those events and issues that facilitated the transition of CAN from political dormancy to its current politicized stance. A distinction is made between the external and the internal factors as perceived by CAN, vis-a-vis the struggles for political power within the Nigerian polity.

External Factors for the Politicization of CAN

2Three external factors influenced CAN's trend towards politicization. They were: the consolidation of the military, the perception of discrimination against Christians by the government, and the Muslim aspiration for an Islamic theocratic order for the country.

The consolidation of the military

3The intrusion of the military into Nigerian politics was generally felt to be a welcome intervention in the eyes of the populace. The military had projected itself as a corrective group and was perceived so by the general populace; its role was theoretically to take over, rectify the situation, and then return to the barracks. With time, the military lost whatever positive image people had of it; it began to be seen more as an army of occupation than a corrective institution. In fact, the military not only acquired the reputation of being as corrupt as the politicians, but also came to be perceived as politically incompetent, having no mind of its own. Nowhere was this image better epitomized than in the lyrics of the song, Zombie, by Fela Anikulapo Kuti. According to him, Nigerian soldiers are so mindless a group that they even carry out orders to ‘quench’ (that is, to kill themselves), without stopping to think.

4In response to this perception, the military adopted two strategies. First, it pursued a programme of raising the educational standing of soldiers by setting up the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru and raising the Nigerian Defence Academy to the status of a university to supplement the Jaji school for top-ranking military officers. Second, the military drastically reduced the chances for negotiation with civilian society. This was the result of military suppression of civilian opposition by either banning civil organizations like the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), and the National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS), or harassing their members.

  • 1 . For instance, it was while Mallam Isma'ila Idris was in the Army as an Imam (religious teacher) t (...)

5As the military consolidated its position through its numerous decrees it sent a clear message to civilians: the military could no longer be perceived as either a disinterested or an incompetent group in Nigerian political calculations. Thus, in today's Nigeria, it is not uncommon to see, within the military ranks, experts in various civil disciplines. There are competent military personnel presiding over tribunals, and one military man is famous as an expert in religious affairs.1 General I.B. Babangida has been euphemistically called by many Nigerians the ‘Maradona’ of Nigerian politics. For, just as Maradona, the Argentine soccer wizard, was known to have often dribbled himself out of difficult situations in the field of soccer, Babangida had a way of successfully dribbling himself out of difficult political situations. He was also able to manœuvre the nation in the way he wanted, not to mention the success and finesse with which he dislodged the plans of both his colleagues in uniform and the politicians.

  • 2 . See The Guardian, January 24, 1991, p. 9.

6In the absence of other public opposition to the military, CAN gradually assumed the role of an unofficial and increasingly powerful opposition to the government. But perhaps, on a more disturbing note, the military presence on the Nigerian political scene has unleashed what Segun Sowunmi has aptly described as ‘the leaven of militarism’2 or, to be more precise, a culture of violence. It results mainly in people settling their differences not by dialogue but by violence, and the victors imposing their will on others by force. With time these attitudes created the situation in which the victims of militarism become politically conscientized to change, through whatever means, the cause of their victimization.

The perception that government policies are discriminatory against Christians

7Besides a number of government policies which have been discussed in the previous chapter, there are some other outstanding ones which obviously have contributed to the politicization of CAN. First are the restrictions which the government placed on Christian evangelism without, in CAN's opinion, placing similar restrictions on Islam. As the leadership of CAN's Northern Zone puts it:

  • 3 . Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Northern Zone, Leadership in Nigeria (to date): An analysi (...)

Our schools and colleges have been taken over by government and yet we see schools and colleges established under the umbrella of another religion [that is, Islam] being sponsored and entirely financed and administered by government; we have been denied access to the use of the electronic media in certain parts of the country and yet another religion has the monopoly of rendering a near-24-hours religious broadcast in the same areas; some States have deliberately refused to accept and recognize the growing population of Christians in the States, thus depriving the Christians not only of their rights, but also questioning their claim to being indigenes of such states as claim to be religiously homogeneous.3

  • 4 . The Rt. Revd. T.E. Ogbonyomi, The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Diocese of Kaduna at St (...)

8We would include within the broad spectrum of these restrictions, the action of government in expelling, at the end of the civil war, the missionaries from what used to be Biafra — the most Christian part of the country, whose populace, over the years, has promoted Christian evangelism in the North. These restrictions also include the bureaucratic difficulties Christians experience before they can get land to build churches in the North. The following account by the Anglican Bishop of Kaduna, the Rt. Rev. T.E. Ogbonyomi, is typical of such experiences. On the 5th of March 1986, he applied for land to erect a church for the Protestant community at the Government Girls Secondary School, Kawo, Kaduna, formerly owned by his Diocese. By the 11th of April 1987, he had not received even ‘the courtesy of acknowledging the receipt of [his application], not to [mention] taking any worthy action on it’, despite his sending a reminder on the 28 May 1986.4

  • 5 . This information was provided in the course of an interview that took place in Sokoto on 15th Feb (...)

9The CAN leadership cites the case of the Christian Community of Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, which had organized a fund-raising event for building a place of worship. The night before, Christians alleged, the state government cancelled the event despite the fact that they had satisfied all the requirements and had received permission. The official reason given for the cancellation was that the Muslims had threatened bloodshed and destruction of property if the launching was allowed. As reasonable as this explanation may sound, perhaps the real reason for the cancellation was the intervention of the Sultan who used to be the Secretary-General of the JNI, the anti-Christian Muslim organization.5 Even if we ignore the Sultan's alleged connection, as this is hard to prove, the decision of the state government strengthened CAN's belief that the government is discriminatory against Christians. In the words of CAN's leaders:

  • 6 . CAN Northern Zone, op. cit., p. 42.

We have latterly been treated to a spate of provocative pronouncements and statements… [and] some of them border on threatening the security of this country… We are yet to hear someone in authority calling the author of the statements to order in view of the inciting, provocative, contemptuous, and destabilising implications contained in them.6

  • 7 . See O.B.C. Nwolise, Awolowo and religion in Nigeria, In: Obafemi Awolowo: The end of an era?, O.O (...)
  • 8 . For details on this issue, see Catholic Diocese of Jos, Contemporary Islam and Nigeria, p. 17.

10Another discriminatory government policy was the establishment of a Pilgrims' Board. The issue of pilgrimage became politicized from the time the Regional Government of the Northern Region sponsored Isa Kaita's pilgrimage to Mecca in 1954. Consequently, confronted by the possibility of religious strife in the old Western Region, where Muslims accounted for about half of the population, and as a measure of precaution, Awolowo statutorily established in May, 1958, a Pilgrims Welfare Board for Muslims.7 Most non-Muslims did not object to the need for Muslims to perform the pilgrimage in fulfilment of their religious obligations, but many did object to State support and subsidy of the pilgrimage. The Christian position is premised on the view that the state must play no role in religion — since the country is constitutionally a secular one — and therefore the state must not render any financial assistance to the religious activity of any group. But should the State choose to render such assistance, Christians argue, it should not be denied to Christians who may wish to go on pilgrimages to Christian holy places in Rome and in Israel. The government's response to the Christians after much protest was to provide, from the 1980s, a ‘limited government financing of Christian pilgrimages and the erection of Christian Pilgrim Boards’.8 Christians availed themselves of this provision. On their return from pilgrimage, some Christians add ‘JP’ (Jerusalem Pilgrim) to their titles to counter Muslims, who add ‘Alhaji’ to their name after making the pilgrimage to Mecca. As the number of Christian pilgrims increased, CAN began to scrutinize the government support and subsidy for religious pilgrimages. It became obvious to CAN that there was a disparity in favour of Muslims, and it saw this as further evidence of the government's unfairness to Christians.

  • 9 . See Citizen magazine, August 12, 1991, p. 26.

11On a wider and more serious political scale, CAN cited the disparity in Nigeria's policy towards the state of Israel. Nigeria, it may be recalled, broke off diplomatic relations with Israel in 1973 for political reasons. This action was in compliance with the Organization of African Unity's directive to its members to sever relations with Israel because of the latter's Middle East policy, especially as it affected the Palestinian people. The leadership of the Islamic North had always disapproved of Nigeria's relationship with Israel and would have ended the relationship on religious grounds, long before it was eventually severed by Gowon, a Christian. Nigeria's current approach to Israel, and indeed Middle East politics, is a recent development — an aftermath of its current religious politics. Thus, most Nigerians have an affinity to either Israel (if they are Christians) or the Arab world (if they are Muslims). There is an inclination for most Nigerians to oppose or favour any policy towards Israel, depending on their religion. It should be noted, however, that Nigeria restored diplomatic ties with Israel in early August, 1991. This decision was based on the imperative that ‘Africa cannot allow itself to be left out in the current efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and other parts of the world’; consequently, it was ‘Nigeria's desire not to be left out of getting Africa back into the “mainstream of world politics”’9.

  • 10 . ibid, p. 28.
  • 11 . See as cited, ibid., pp. 27-28.
  • 12 . ibid., p. 29.
  • 13 . Interview with Professor I. Audu, Zaria, January 30, 1991.

12Christians felt that the severance of diplomatic relations with Israel, for as long as it lasted, was not in their economic and religious interests. As Archbishop Okogie observed: Nigerians were the losers because while they could not go to Israel and trade, the Israelis enjoyed these opportunities in Nigeria.10 In fact, Israeli companies like Afro-Continental, Dizengoff, Solel Boneh, and Nicon Noga Hilton are well known in Nigeria.11 They and several others, according to the prelate, were involved in ‘federal government projects that could have probably been better done by Nigerians’.12 In addition, the severance of ties worked against Christians because of their wish to visit Christian holy places in Israel for which consular services were necessary. Such services were available to Muslims whenever they performed their own religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.13 Since the State's political power has been largely under the dominance of members of the Islamic religion, Christians cited the government's policy towards Israel as further proof of discrimination against them. But many Nigerians who have no religious affiliation question the rationale behind state subsidy of pilgrimages in a country that is constitutionally secular.

13Christians allege that the government has not adequately addressed their concern, and that successive governments have given them superficial attention. For instance, the government of Shehu Shagari tried to establish an Islamic Affairs Board to regulate Islamic matters. The idea for this Board, and a Christian counterpart, which the government was prepared to establish in order to pacify the Christians, had to be rejected because the Christians were opposed to this, and based their objection on the principle of the constitutional provision for the government's non-interference in religion.

  • 14 . See, for example, Y.B. Usman et al., Our stand on the OIC, New Nigeria, February 3, 1986.
  • 15 . See CAN Northern Zone, op. cit., p. 27.

14The government policy that gave the greatest impetus to the politicization of CAN was the country's move to full membership in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1986, as well as the government's handling of the events that the policy generated. Nigeria's formal association with the OIC began during the regime of Yakubu Gowon, a Christian. But the association was limited purely to an observer status. Until 1986, successive governments accepted this situation as the best for a polity that is religiously pluralistic and yet must have a mechanism to maintain a presence in such an international forum, given the importance of Islam in Nigeria. Pre-1986 governments honoured the country's observer status in the OIC in apparent recognition of the potential threat which full membership would pose to the nation's stability, given its constitutional character as a secular state. In light of this background, it was not surprising that the move towards full membership in OIC generated a public outcry that cut across ethnic, ideological, and religious affiliations.14 Even some members of the government's inner circle opposed the policy. This was clearly demonstrated when Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, a Christian and the President's deputy, publicly stated that the matter never went through the regime's normal decision-making process. Not only did Ukiwe's statement cost him his job and eventual retirement from the military — at least so Christians believe15 — it also strengthened the perception by Christians that the government was out to Islamize the country. But on a much more religiously non-partisan note, Ukiwe was perhaps articulating the more patriotic grounds for the reactions against the policy. These were not so much against the government's flirtation with OIC- as against the way the government carried out the policy.

  • 16 . Newbreed, January 21, 1991, p. 9.
  • 17 . Interview with C.N. Ubah, Kaduna, January 26, 1991.

15The objections to Nigeria's full membership in OIC led the government in late 1987 to set up the Advisory Council for Religious Affairs (ACRA). To Christians ACRA was government intrusion into religion and a violation of the constitutional character of the country as a secular state, reminiscent of Shagari's Islamic Affairs Board. Despite government's attempt to make the Council an independent body, providing it only with facilities and finance, it remained comatose. On the surface, one reason given for this situation was the inability of the two major religious groups to elect, among themselves, a chairman for the Council. Another reason was advanced by Christians, who stated that they were unwilling to allow the erosion of the secularity of the country.16 As plausible as the reasons may be, the real reason can be located in C.N. Ubah's observation. According to him, ACRA's failure to work is ‘not because of the question of the chairman, as we are told’, but rather because Christians have come to believe that ‘they are always disadvantaged whenever government interferes in religion’.17

The Muslim aspiration for an Islamic theocratic order for the country

16The first thing that strikes a student of religion and politics in modern Nigeria is the emergence of a radical Islam which is largely characterized by violence. This development is evident in events on the international and national scenes. On the international scene, the upsurge of Islamic militancy is epitomized by Iran, and by a strong Islamic presence even in traditionally non-Islamic countries like the USA and Trinidad. As G.H. Jansen aptly described it:

  • 18 . Cited from V.C. Chukwulozie, The Mohammedia Colloquium of 1985 — A Nigerian viewpoint, Bulletin o (...)

What has happened in the past few years is that this Islamic pressure has broken through the weakening structure of several Muslim states, culminating spectacularly in the Iranian uprising led by Muslim men of religion. But this is only the most recent episode in the long history of militant Islam, a history as old as Islam itself. Since about 1973, in the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli war of that year,… evidence of a political resurgence of Islam in many Muslim countries, from Morocco to the Philippines, has accumulated with increasing speed.18

17On the national scene, there has been, for example, a response to the numerical growth of Christianity, especially in areas in the North long considered to be an Islamic stronghold — a phenomenon discussed in detail in the course of this chapter.

18Underlying Islamic militancy are two inter-related concerns. The first is a liberation from what, in Muslim eyes, is the yoke of Euro-Christian values which they claim to have been imposed on the Muslim Ummah (community) through the mediation of Western colonialism. Radiance, a militant Muslim magazine, described these values by observing:

  • 19 . Muslim Students' Society (MSS), Radiance (ZAria: MSS, Ahmadu Bello University, January-March, 198 (...)

Even then Sunday remains the national weekend, the Christian New Year is the national New Year, the Christian doctrine of the separation of church and state is the national philosophy, the Christian calendar is the official calendar, and Euro-Christian Law remains supreme. But Islam's Friday, New Year, calendar, and … philosophy are thrown away in the name of ‘complete equality’ between religions, while its Law even in completely Muslim areas remains subservient to … colonial law.19

19The second concern is the re-establishment of an Islamic order; that is, submission to divinely-inspired regulatory practices. The implication is that society's ills are the result of people's failure to submit to true religiosity which is premised on the Quranic imperative:

  • 20 . Koran, Chap. 30, v. 30, as cited in The Bounteous Koran, trans, by M.M. Khatib (London: Macmillan (...)

So set your face toward religion as one upright, for it is the innate nature given by God, upon which He created men. No change is there in God's creation. That is the right religion, but most people know [it] not.20

  • 21 . Nowhere is this demand for Islamic militancy so well articulated as in Ibrahim Sulaiman and Siraj (...)

20With reference to Nigeria, advocates of Islamic militancy submit that the bane of Nigeria's development is the lack of the centralization of an Islamic worldview such as existed during the time of Usman Dan Fodio.21 Hence, one of the militants insists:

  • 22 . A.M. Falaki, Politics: The Islamic approach, In: Sulaiman and Abdulkarim, op. cit., p. 20.

The wisdom behind the firm insistence [of] Islam is that it is the only avenue for Muslims to save themselves from the confusion and disintegration which the imitation of the West has imposed on them and other non-Western people and [to] provide [themselves] once more with a reliable platform upon which to develop according to their own ideals, values, and experiences.22

  • 23 . A. Mustapha, Introduction, In: Sulaiman and Abdulkarim, op. cit., p. viii.

21In this connection, and since authentic submission to the will of Allah must be an active rather than a passive engagement,23 Muslims must strive to establish the kind of society they believe will ensure the realization of their world view.

  • 24 . Here we mean the politics behind the respective visits to Nigeria in 1982 of the Catholic Pontiff (...)
  • 25 . Taken from the dedicatory note in Chuba Okadigbo, The Mission of the NPN. (Enugu: Ejike R. Nwankw (...)

22Three avenues are discernible in striving to establish an Islamic order in Nigeria. The first is quiet diplomacy (political), followed by the constitutional and, finally, the coercive (violent) type. The party politics of the Hausa-Fulani Islamic ruling class — the various strategic ways members of the class tried to maintain political hegemony over the country, as discussed in chapter three — followed the diplomatic path. While the Sardauna was perhaps too overt in going about it, Babangida — in the mould of military tradition — has added dictatorial tendencies to it. Shagari's style (he was a master politician) was subdued, gentle, and politically calculated. Here we note his politics of ‘religious visits’,24his so-called ‘ethical revolution’, and its corresponding ‘National Orientation Committee’, all of which were preparatory to an eventual socio-political integration of Nigeria under the NPN's banner of ‘One Nation with One Destiny, under One God’.25

  • 26 . ibid., p. 6 (emphasis as found in the original).
  • 27 . See J.K. Olupona, Religion and politics, In: The Politicization of Society during Nigeria's Secon (...)
  • 28 . See J.N. Paden, Religion and Political Culture in Kano (Berkeley, 1973), pp. 570-571.

23Christians like C. Okadigbo, who allied with the Hausa-Fulani Islamic ruling class and thought they could ‘unpack [the] thesis’ behind ‘the mission of the NPN,26 may have been surprised when Shagari — hitherto presented to be religiously neutral — began to expose his Islamic bias and intent. Although he had a Christian as his running-mate, he won his second term by religious bigotry against Christians. A case in point was his message to the people of the largely Muslim towns of Sokoto and Ilorin not to vote for infidels, apparently meaning his Christian presidential rivals.27 It must not be forgotten that Shagari was a political scion of the Sardauna and was supportive of his goal for Islamic hegemony in the country; the only exception being that Shagari disapproved of the way the Sardauna pursued the goal, even though that disapproval was articulated only after the Sardauna's death.28

  • 29 . West Africa, 7th November 1983, p. 2592.

24Once he began his second term, Shagari proposed to set up a Bureau of Islamic Affairs in the President's office. Catholic Bishops denounced the proposal on constitutional grounds,29 and other non-Muslims also opposed the scheme. Even Alhaji Onigbanjo, a Muslim leader from Lagos, who perhaps saw the long arm of the Hausa-Fulani ruling class behind the proposal, opposed it. He suggested that:

  • 30 . ibid.

... if the President is determined to establish it, he should also be prepared to establish other departments in his office for other religious organizations or else rename the proposed department ‘the Board of Religious Affairs’.30

  • 31 . Quoted in West Africa, June 20, 1989, p. 9454.
  • 32 . National Concord, January 19, 1983.

25As we noted earlier, Shagari's proposal was abandoned, apparently because CAN's opposition had won, as we have just noted, the support of some influential Muslim leaders in the South. It would be left for Babangida to implement the proposal later. Meanwhile, Shagari also proposed to create a new ministry of National Guidance whose major raison d'être would be to execute the ideas of the ethical revolution programme. Given his sudden shift from religious neutrality, which largely characterized his first term of office, to a more pronounced bias for Islam, Shagari was aiming for something more than just an ethical revolution. In fact his ‘ethical revolution’ was preparatory to the eventual execution of the plan to turn the country into a one-party state after 1983, as Alhaji Isa Kaita revealed later.31 Given Shagari's close identification with the goals of the Sardauna, Shagari's one-party state probably would have been run in accordance with the Islamic order and by the members of his class. According to M.K.O. Abiola, himself a Muslim and a former insider in the NPN, they were already running the NPN like a company in which they were the Board of Directors.32 Christian leaders, notably the Catholic Bishops' Conference, were quick to denounce Shagari's proposals, just as ‘every Nigerian was fed-up and anxious for a change’, which came with the Buhari/Idiagbon-led coup of December 31, 1983.

26Although Major-General M. Buhari and his deputy, Major-General Idiagbon, were both Muslims, CAN perceived them in a positive light. This is mainly because, according to CAN,

  • 33 . CAN Northern Zone, op. cit., p. 24.

Buhari reduced the religious element in the North… and was the first to give due recognition to the fact that the North was not predominantly Islam, as many had assumed.33

  • 34 . ibid., pp. 24-25.

27In addition, CAN was satisfied with Buhari's political appointments. Out of nineteen governors, nine were Christian and ten were Muslim; and, among his thirteen Federal Ministers, CAN identified four Christians, six Muslims, and three whose religious background could not be identified.34 Furthermore, CAN asserts that, for the duration of the regime, it executed its ideology of ‘War Against Indiscipline’ (WAI)

  • 35 . ibid., p. 23.

… without fear or favour… Whether one was an emir or not did not bother them, neither were they afraid of their colleagues in uniform. They did what seemed right to them, and the average Nigerian was beginning to fall in love with them at the time of the [Babangida-led] coup that removed them from power.35

  • 36 . Besides the sacking of Ukiwe, the removal of Professor Akinyemi as Federal Minister for Foreign A (...)
  • 37 . Here we recall Colonel Y. Madaki's dismissal, later commuted to retirement, from military service (...)

28Many Nigerians would disagree with CAN's image of Buhari and Idiagbon's regime, given their disregard for human rights. But it is not our intention to debate with CAN at this point — something we shall do later. For now what is important is to note CAN's perception of Major-General Babangida, who ended Buhari's regime by force. Since he took the country into full membership of OIC, sacked Christian members of his government who either disagreed with his religious policy36 or challenged the foundation on which the Hausa-Fulani Islamic ruling hegemony rested,37 and resurrected Shagari's detested 'Bureau of Islamic Affairs' in the guise of the-Advisory Council for Religious Affairs (ACRA), it is not surprising that CAN became even more politicized. Besides, he re-opened the constitutional issue — and thus the acrimonious Shari'a debate — only to abort its logical conclusion, which CAN believed would have been in its favour.

  • 38 . Newswatch, September, 21, 1988, pp. 10-17.
  • 39 . Here one recalls Babangida's usually prompt response to Dasuki's wishes and views. A good example (...)
  • 40 . Newswatch, November 21, 1988, p. 17.
  • 41 . See the text of the address by President Ibrahim Babangida at the inaugural meeting of the Commit (...)
  • 42 . See Report of Tribunal of Inquiry on Kano Disturbances (Lagos: Federal Government Press, 1981), p (...)
  • 43 . ibid.
  • 44 . ibid., p. 89.

29Later, Babangida's appointee, the military Governor of Sokoto State, A.M. Daku, imposed Ibrahim Dasuki on the Sokoto people as the Sultan of the Sokoto Emirate — the highest Muslim office in the country — against the expressed wishes of the Muslim masses of the city,'who favoured Maccido, the more popular and a less religiously fundamentalist candidate.38 Given Babangida's silence over the matter, despite the toll of human lives which the imposition cost the nation, his obviously close ties with Dasuki39 who has been the long-standing ‘leader of the “core north”’,40 and the anti-Christian JNI, CAN saw Babangida as a major agent for the Islamization of the country. In addition, Babangida was unequivocal in his strong opposition to state neutrality in religious affairs41 — a position which was categorically in line with Dasuki's. While testifying before the Tribunal on the religious riots in Kano, Dasuki recommended ‘that the Federal and State Governments should be involved in religion and must not remain neutral’.42 The Tribunal rejected this recommendation as counter to the Nigerian Constitution43 and even went further to describe Dasuki as belonging to the ‘category of religious leaders’ who could not be persuaded to concede religious tolerance to others.44 This view was further strengthened when Alhaji Yusuf Sambo, the secretary of mullahs in Kaduna declared in one of his recorded cassettes being sold in Kaduna:

  • 45 . As quoted in The African Guardian, June 18, 1990.

Look at the OIC meeting which Christians were shouting and bragging that it should not take place, was it not done? … Fellow Muslims, what do we want Babangida to do for us? Whatsoever we asked him, he has done it for us. He stood firm Ion] Islam (being] preached in this nation, Nigeria; therefore we must support him.45

  • 46 . ibid., p. 28.
  • 47 . ibid, p. 30.
  • 48 . Newbreed, Lagos, January 21, 1991, p. 11.

30Thus, perceiving Babangida as ‘the principal agent for the Islamization of Nigeria’,46 CAN asserts the rights of its members and calls on them ‘to be alert in defence of their faith ... as [their] first responsibility is to God’.47 To press the point, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos and CAN'S fiery national President, Most Rev. A.O. Okogie, would taunt the military government by describing himself as ‘a sacred cow’, though one, ‘of God’.48

31The next avenue — the constitutional path — which Muslims have followed in establishing an Islamic order in Nigeria was clearly epitomized in the course of the debates on the provision of the Shari'a in the country's Constitution. The Shari'a issue was discussed in chapter three. Here we will highlight how the Shari'a debates — for the 1979 or the 1989 Federal Constitutions — exposed the long-standing intention of the Hausa-Fulani Islamic ruling class and its scions to establish an Islamic theocratic order in Nigeria.

32Ideally, members of the Hausa-Fulani ruling class favour a Nigeria in which the entire polity would be Islamized. But given that this is not possible in a religiously pluralistic country, they have another alternative, one country, in which Christians and Muslims relate communally but under two parallel legal codes. Specifically, each community will be organized in accordance with the ethico-religious, economic, and socio-political values of the dominant population within that community or state. Minorities in the community will be guaranteed their human rights, including their religious rights, and they in turn will abide by the state of affairs in the community. The only exception, however, is that, if Christians are such a minority, they can change their religion — that is, become Muslims — but they cannot proselytize Muslims or aspire to political leadership; though these are rights which Muslims who find themselves in a similar situation ought to enjoy.

33Needless to say, Christian members of the 1977/78 Constituent Assembly opposed this vision for Nigeria on religious grounds, claiming their democratic and human rights. It is important to note that, in the course of the debates, Christians became aware of deep-seated anti-Christian sentiments among Muslims, especially those from the North. There were threats and counter-threats both within and outside the Constituent Assembly. There were also pro and anti-Shari'a protests and demonstrations across the country. At one stage during the 1977/78 Shari'a debate, eighty-seven members of the Constituent Assembly, led by Alhaji Shagari who later became the country's President, staged a walk-out protest in support of the Shari'a. This, however, did not achieve its desired aim.

34Meanwhile Christians were forced to review the reasons given for previous policies hitherto advanced as being in the national interests. What is more, the debates on the 1979 Constitution, as Olupona has rightly observed:

  • 49 . J.K. Olupona, op. cit., p. 153.

… brought into the open a new dimension in the Christian-Muslim relations in Nigeria. Although benign forms of religious intolerance had for a long time been part of the nation's way of life since the coming of these religions, the debates on the Shari'a Law opened up the potent political force of religion as an instrument of disintegration.49

35No one, perhaps, captures the mood better than Abdur-Rashid F. Oye, Managing Editor of the pro-Iranian monthly newsletter published in Jos. In a blunt statement, enough to politicize even an uncommitted Christian, he said:

  • 50 . See the Editorial page of al-Ra’ad, Vol. 2, No. 1, 1989.

Already, the Muslims have lost out even while the Constitution is being drafted; so the only alternative left is to bring about an Islamic Revolution, come 1990 or 1992. I am not bothered by what means are to be used; as long as the Islamic Revolution succeeds, all is well with me.50

36This statement brings us to the third and last avenue — violence — leading to the Islamic drive to establish its order in Nigeria. Here we argue that it is usually when Muslims fail to realize their objective — be it through diplomatic avenues or constitutional debate — that they resort to force. For, it is not an accident or mere coincidence that all the religious riots in modern Nigeria took place in the North, and most of them — in fact the major ones — took place after a significant failure by Muslims to realize a particular objective. The following cases testify to the veracity of our argument.

  • 51 . The editor-in-chief of this Magazine, Mohammed Haruna, is not only perceived by people as a pro-e (...)

37A good example is the first of the series of religious riots in post-colonial Nigeria, the Maitatsine uprisings of the early 1980s. Muslims have been trying to disassociate Maitatsine and his followers from true Islam, arguing, like some analysts of the Nigerian scene, that the uprisings had more to do with socio-economic conditions in the country than anything religious, and not with true Islam for that matter. This view is best represented by Bilkisu Yusuf, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Kaduna-based Citizen magazine — currently the most articulate, influential, and militantly pro-North and Islamic news magazine in the country.51 According to her:

  • 52 . Interview with Bilkisu Yusuf, Kaduna, January 29, 1991.

[Maitatsine] claimed he was a Muslim. But he diverted from what Islam teaches. He got himself involved in rituals — all these cult practices — and not only that, if he declared himself a prophet [then] he had his own religion. And the riot had some socio-economic angle that it took, because if you look at those who were the disciples of Maitatsine and his followers, they were … poor and have some aversion to flaunting of wealth. If you look at some of the things they tried to highlight, like social iniquities, you know that there was more than just the occult in what [Maitatsine] was preaching. He was attacking the traditional rulers too and condemned some of their practices. On the whole [the Maitatsine uprisings] had nothing to do with Islam [but] had more to do with the occult.52

  • 53 . See Newswatch, May 6, 1991, p. 16; Confidential Report on Nigeria and the Religious Question by t (...)

38Even if the plausibility of the economic and occult aspects of Maitatsine's uprisings is granted, the fact remains that he and his followers were Muslims. Otherwise, it is hard to explain why the direct victims of the uprisings were mostly Christians, and why the attacks were targeted at those economic and social institutions perceived to be closely identified with Euro-Christian values.53

  • 54 . See J. Kenny, O.P., The Shari'a question in Nigeria: A historical survey, In: Nigerian Studies in (...)

39The Maitatsine riots took place after the adoption of the 1979 Federal Constitution. They were the beginning of the series of attempts to keep the Shari'a question in focus, as the pro-Shari'a group vowed to do in 1978. It should be recalled that when the pro-Shari'a members of the 1977/78 Constituent Assembly, most of whom were Muslims from the North, failed to get all their proposals into the new Constitution, they decided to rest their case for the time being with the intention of keeping the issue in the national consciousness and of reviving it at the appropriate time.54

  • 55 . See Newswatch, December 12, 1988, pp. 14-20.

40Possibly, the 1987 Kaduna State religious riot anticipated the ‘appropriate time’ to revive the Shari'a issue. It is also possible that the riot was a powerful Muslim message to the nation about what lay ahead should the Shari'a proposals fail to get into the Federal Constitution next time around. The ‘time’ came the following year with the re-opening of the constitutional question. The Shari'a debate for the 1989 Federal Constitution, like its predecessor, was acrimonious. The government had to cancel the debate when it saw — so the Christians thought — that even the gain which Muslims had made in the 1977/78 debate might be lost.55

41The 1987 Kaduna State religious riot also came after the controversy over the country's full membership in OIC. It may be recalled that Babangida had refused to succumb to the Muslim demand that he confirm Nigeria's membership in the Organization. Babangida may have been wiser in resisting the pressure; but Muslims may have viewed his wisdom as a victory for CAN, which had not only dared him to make such a proclamation but had in fact issued him an ultimatum to pull the country out of the OIC. Thus, the 1987 Kaduna riot was possibly a Muslim declaration of displeasure with Babangida's apparent surrender to Christian pressure. Since then there have been religious riots on a larger scale, especially in terms of human lives and property lost. Almost all these riots have been Northern-based, Muslim-led, and directly connected with the demand for the establishment of an Islamic order in the country. The victims have been mostly Christians.

  • 56 . See T. Tamuno, The Responsibility for Crime Control in Nigeria, Distinguished Lecture No. 10, (Ni (...)
  • 57 . 'Lai Olorode, The politicisation of religion in Nigeria, In: CS. Momoh et al. (eds.) op. cit., p. (...)

42Not even the Ahmadu Bello University-based student riots — the 1979, 1986, 1987, and 1988 riots — were free from the same pattern of violence. For instance, according to government intelligence reports, the May 1979 riot was initiated by the militant Muslim Students' Society (MSS) whose members were dubbed 'mini Ayatollahs' for adopting the idiosyncrasies of Iranian religious leaders like Ayatollah Khomeini56 and who, ‘in their protest, also demanded the recognition of the Shari'a law’.57 The riot of 1988 erupted when, the Muslim candidate for the Student Union's presidential election lost to the Christian candidate who, the Muslims claimed, was supported by CAN.

  • 58 . Quality interview with Abubakar MahmoudGumi, October 1987, pp. 34-39, esp. p. 35.
  • 59 . ibid., p. 39.

43Needless to say, the Muslim push to establish an Islamic order in Nigeria, especially by the use of force, remains perhaps the single most important factor that has galvanized Christians into political consciousness. Complementary to this factor is Sheikh Abubakar Mahmoud Gumi's controversial statement to the effect that if Christians in Nigeria refuse a Muslim leader over them, ‘then we have to divide the country’.58 For, in his view, ‘a good Muslim cannot choose a non-Muslim as his leader’.59

  • 60 . Free Nation (Kaduna: Emancipation Publishers Ltd., November 1988).
  • 61 . The African Guardian, June 18, 1990, p. 20.

44Perhaps it is in view of such statements that the Christian students at ABU were reported to have said in the aftermath of the 1988 riot: Tor too long [we] have been pushed to the wall; … “both cheeks have been slapped and there is no third cheek to slap”’.60 In a way, the students articulated what must have been the feeling of a politicized CAN, the members of whose leadership were said to be prepared for martyrdom for the Association. This development, especially the demonstration of a unanimity of purpose by Christians, despite CAN's doctrinal and ecclesiastical cleavages, has puzzled even the most detached of observers.61

  • 62 . M.H. Kukah, Religion and politics in northern Nigeria since independence, Ph.D. thesis, Universit (...)
  • 63 . As noted, In: Catholic Diocese of Jos, op. cit., p. 57.
  • 64 . ibid., pp. 24-25.

45Other external factors that must have contributed to the politicization of CAN include the mass media, as shown in M.H. Kukah's work.62 In addition, there are the experiences of Muslim-Christian relationships in places like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, where the enthronement of Islam occurred gradually.63 Virtually all Christians in Nigeria are afraid of a similar thing happening to them, given ‘the demands of the various Islamic groups’ in the country; these demands are reminders of what could happen to Christians if they fail to be politically alert.64 The foregoing discussion is helpful in understanding a part of the overall picture of the politicization of CAN; we need to look at the internal factors too.

Internal Factors for the Politicization of CAN

46The imperative for change within the churches contributed greatly to the politicization of CAN. The politics around the civil war, ironically, also provided a major catalyst for the events — that is, the phenomenal growth — within the churches. On the one hand, this growth, especially in the North, was threatening to the Muslims; on the other hand, it gave the churches the group confidence for national politics.

Phenomenal growth of the churches since the 1970s

  • 65 . There are, of course, various explanations for the takeover of schools by government. One explana (...)

47Post-war experiences led to the phenomenal growth which Christianity has been enjoying since the 1970s — a development which has permanently changed the dynamics of Nigerian post-colonial politics. Take the Catholic Church in the former Eastern Region, for example. At the end of the civil war, the church received a jolt from the victorious Federal Government, when the government took over mission schools and hospitals, starting with the then Igbo-speaking East Central State.65 In addition, there was also a sudden expulsion of all foreign missionaries in Igbo-speaking Biafra, mainly because of their unequivocal support for Biafra during the war. It was as if the Catholic Church in Igboland had been strangled to death; what remained, as was perhaps expected by those behind these policies, were the funeral rites indicating its extinction. But this was never to happen.

  • 66 . Here we note the growth of Catholicism in the dioceses of Onitsha and Owerri — the two major cent (...)
  • 67 . The Leader, from Sunday, January 25 to February 7, 1981, p. 1, as cited in Makozi & Ojo (eds.) op (...)

48On the contrary, the sudden expulsion of the foreign missionaries stimulated the very few indigenous clergy, and indeed the entire local church, into a determined action to survive. It was an opportunity for the Igbo Catholics to do their best to demonstrate the Igbo talent for hard work, and their belief in self-achievement. ‘Success’ and ‘achievement’ were evident in Igboland in a matter of one decade after the war. The Catholic Church in the area not only grew by leaps and bounds; it also became self-reliant in church personnel. Today, it is sending missionaries across and outside the country.66 Such was the phenomenal growth that Dr. J.B. Whelan, former Catholic Bishop of Owerri and himself among those missionaries expelled in 1970, described it as a ‘miracle’. Speaking on the matter when he visited Nigeria a decade later, he exclaimed: ‘That the whitemen [could] leave today and the Igbos take over tomorrow without the smallest hitch is a miracle that could have happened nowhere else in the whole missionary world’.67

  • 68 . E.P.T. Crampton, op. cit., p. 158.
  • 69 . See Carol Virginia McKinney, The Bajju of central Nigeria: A case study of religious and social c (...)

49The growth of Christianity in the North is perhaps a more outstanding phenomena than what happened in Igboland. The ECWA and the Catholic groups exemplify this. Compared to the Catholics whose evangelization of the North was concentrated more in urban than rural areas, the Protestants, as Crampton has rightly observed, had borne the brunt of the early, hard struggle against paganism in Northern Nigeria.68 In this regard, the evangelical group of Churches of Christ in the Sudan, especially the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM), which in 1956 became the ECWA Church, is prominent. More than any other Christian group, it had had its feet firmly on the ground since 1910 when it established a presence in Kwoi and thus became the first mission to enter Southern Zaria — the heartland of Northern Nigeria (see figure 8). As a church that had taken steps to indigenize, most of its clergy and lay workers were indigenes. Liturgically, Hausa had been their main language of communication, following the example of earlier missionaries like Dr. Walter Miller of Wusasa fame. Between 1961 and 1970, the number of ECWA's places of worship, its membership, and its average Sunday attendance had risen phenomenally (see appendix 5). In the Bajju area of Southern Zaria alone, the ECWA churches have grown from a very small beginning, with the first Bajju convert in 1929, to a denomination with twenty-nine churches and an average attendance of about 3346 by 1985.69

Source: Y. Turaki, 1982, p. 26.

Figure 8. The location of Zaria Province and Southern Zaria

  • 70 . Here, we will rely on Fr. Raymond Hickey's small but authoritative book — undoubtedly the most in (...)
  • 71 . ibid., p. 40.

50For the Catholic Church in the North, the outbreak of the civil war provided it with one of its most enduring challenges.70 By this time, two hundred years after the first Catholic missionary came to the North, the Church had made little or no impact on the indigenes. For instance, out of the 262 priests in the Region only three were indigenes and none of these was in charge of a parish.71

  • 72 . ibid., p. 41.
  • 73 . ibid.

51Overall, the Southerners, especially the Catholic Igbos, formed the bulk of the members to such an extent that the church was seen as an Igbo Church in diaspora in the North. This point is buttressed by the selective destruction that took place during the 1966/67 pogroms that saw the flight of the Igbos to the East. While some Catholic churches were destroyed, the Protestant churches, whose members were mainly Northerners, were untouched.72 With the departure of the Igbos, and the almost empty pews, so to speak, the Church was faced with the challenge ‘to “Northernize” if it was to survive’.73 The church's response to the challenge was interesting. The missionaries began to lay the foundation for a vibrant, culturally-sensitive, and attentive indigenous church that welcomed the end of the civil war in 1970 and thereafter. According to Fr. Hickey's account of the turn of events:

  • 74 . ibid., p. 43.

The decade following 1967 was a time when the Catholics of the North forged their identity as a mainly Hausa speaking community which reflected the customs, culture, and ethos of the North. No longer under the shadow of a more highly educated and richer immigrant Catholic community, the Northern Catholics gained confidence in themselves and an awareness of their responsibility.74

  • 75 . R. Hickey, op. cit., p. 50.

52The Catholic Church in Northern Nigeria announced its growth, so to speak, in 1970 with the ordination of ten priests. Many more youths soon followed, to the extent that by 1979 the region could boast of about eighty-six indigenous priests, with Tivland alone, the historic center for anti-Muslim resistance in the North, leading with forty priests.75 Women were not found wanting in responding to the call to a religious vocation. In view of this, it became necessary to found indigenous religious communities of nuns, like the ‘Congregation of Our Lady of Fatima’ in Jos, the ‘Sisters of the Nativity’ in Makurdi, and the 'Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena' in Sokoto. With the exception of Maiduguri and Yola, all the ten Dioceses in the former North are headed by indigenous bishops. In 1991, Kano became a mini-diocese — a step towards becoming a diocese. For a church whose personnel require a lengthy period of training, not to mention the demands of a celibate commitment, the change in its personnel is clear evidence of a vibrant and committed faith on the part of its large number of converts.

53A number of reasons form the background of this development in the Catholic Church in the North. The foremost of these is attentiveness to the indigenization of the faith, that is, to a culturally-rooted Christianity which, as we noted earlier, had been a common feature in the Protestant churches. Besides their unequivocal commitment to indigenize their clergy and lay workers, these churches, especially the ECWA Church, have been using the Hausa language and a Hausa Bible as their major tools for reaching the indigenous people.

54The Catholic Church in Northern Nigeria followed the example of the Protestant Churches. We call it the ‘ruralization of the faith’, or the encouragement of lay movements; that is, the extension of the Gospel from urban to rural areas. With these insights, Catholics, of course, enriched their well-known strategy for team ministry (between priests and the nuns) and their effective use of social services such as education. In this connection we recall those missionaries who, inspired by the spirit of the Second Vatican Council that has swept through Roman Catholicism since the 1960s, began to work for a culturally-based Catholicism. From a list too long to mention in full, we recall missionaries like the American Dominicans, Fr. Bede Jagoe and Sister Catherine, who started in Malumfashi (Sokoto Diocese), the first Catechetical and Women's Centers, respectively, for the joint training of indigenous lay workers and their wives: Fr. Bede, who was later replaced by the Irish Fr. Michael McGrath, also founded the Institute of Pastoral Affairs in Jos in 1977; Fr. Michael Cullen with his very simple but penetrating presentations of the Gospel, coupled with the American Dominican Fr. Ceslaus Prazan's itinerant preaching in very simple Hausa language, who extended the reach of the message to the grassroots; Fr. John O'Mahony and Sr. Ruth Kidson whose effective running of the newly established Media Service Center in Kaduna exemplifies the gains derivable from team ministry.

  • 76 . Accounts about Fr. Raffrys work were given to me by Fr. L. Burke (see Burke interview, February 2 (...)

55We noted earlier that, prior to the war period, Catholic missionaries were preoccupied with ministering to the large number of immigrant Catholics from the South, most of whom lived in the cities. They were thus complacent about reaching out to the many ethnic groups in the region, something which was taken for granted in the Protestant churches. Having become aware of the limitations in its style of ministry, the Catholic Church had to change its complacent attitude in order to reach other ethnic groups. Here, Fr. Raffty's recent evangelism in the rural areas of the heavily Muslim Kano State, and the number of converts he has been making are worthy of note. A case in point is the recent confirmation of 500 adults in the Catholic faith in Southern Kano alone. Fr. Raffty has now extended his ministry into Northern Kano where there are many traditional religionists many of whom become Christians and, not surprisingly, incur the displeasure of the Emir.76

  • 77 . R. Hickey, op. cit., p. 47.
  • 78 . I say this in the light of the lived-experience I gained during the two years I worked as a Catho (...)
  • 79 . See the dedication in B.P. Tanko, op. cit., where the author pays special tribute to his late mot (...)

56With regard to the popular lay movements, two were outstanding: the New Life for All, known in Hausa as Sabon Rai Don Kowa, and the Women's movement, otherwise known in Hausa as Zumunta Mata. These swept most parts of the North and contributed a lot to the post-war growth of Christianity. The former not only conducted Bible study classes, it popularized the Christian faith and soon became one of the most talked about spiritual events in the region. By the mid-seventies the spirit of the Zumunta Mata movement reached the Catholic Church. The main strength of the movement lay in the fact that it was wholly run by women who did not have formal training, but only their determination and their faith. Today, to be a Christian woman from the North is to be a member of the Zumunta Mata, and many observers believe that the future of Christianity in many parts of the North depends on them.77 This is especially because the movement has become a focus of great ecumenical attraction for many women who now have meetings and share one another's experiences, songs, and so on. Undoubtedly, not only have they contributed immensely to the enrichment of the liturgy in the Christian churches today, but they are most probably, we dare to say,78 the energizing force behind the priestly and religious vocation boom in the Catholic Church in the North.79

  • 80 . See appendix 6 for a confirmation of this growth.
  • 81 . It is worth noting here that, apart from those federal facilities such as unity secondary schools (...)

57Finally, there is the element of war propaganda. Biafra portrayed the war as one between the Islamic North and the Christian East and made a surprising success of this within the international community. This religious propaganda had to be countered throughout the war by the Federal Government. As a result, the Federal Government had to ensure that Christians within its areas of control were not threatened, as was the case in the time of the Sardauna. This state of affairs was to the advantage of the churches, especially in the North. They, especially the Catholics, now had the opportunity to lay the necessary foundation that gave birth to the phenomenal growth the churches have enjoyed since the 1970s.80 Similarly, at the end of the war, it was imperative for Nigeria to prove clearly to the whole world the falsehood in Biafran propaganda. This, in our opinion, is a significant reason why the victorious Federal Government was very careful to ensure there was no further Igbo bloodshed at the end of the war. A covert method of punishment for a defeated side had to be found.81

  • 82 . Here we mean the Western and Mid-Western Regions, or what used to be the old Western Region befor (...)
  • 83 . See as cited in E.P.T. Crampton, op. cit., p. 174.
  • 84 . J.S. Trimingham, The Christian Church and Islam in West Africa (London: SCM, 1956) p. 13.

58The churches in the western parts82 of the country also experienced the same post-war phenomenal growth. We recall Miller's observation during his retirement that the traditionalists would become increasingly crucial in Nigerian politics as they become civilized and evangelized.83 Trimingham observed in 1955 that, in most parts of West Africa, Islam and Christianity had reached a deadlock.84 These statements are valid for the western parts of Nigeria. Since the practice of Christianity in the area is different from its Northern and Eastern counterparts, it highlights another dimension in the politicization of Christianity, and indeed religion, in Nigeria.

59First, as can be observed from table 1 below, by 1963 the animist population in the regions west of the Niger had suffered more losses to both Christianity and Islam than in the other regions. In fact, in Lagos alone, the traditional religion was virtually on the road to extinction whilst the Muslims and Christians, especially the latter, increased numerically.

60Undoubtedly, the animist population in most of the regions is meeting the same fate, with the Christian churches still gaining more from this than Islam. Two plausible reasons emerge for this state of affairs. First, Islam had to adopt a low profile, not only to maintain its gains, but also to fight off the Christians, who have been unequivocal about using their advantage in the Western educational system, the easiest avenue to socio-economic power, to win converts from the Muslim population in the regions.

Table 1. 1963 Census Figures of Religious Affiliation in the Western Region (%)

Table 1. 1963 Census Figures of Religious Affiliation in the Western Region (%)

Source: Population Censuses of Nigeria, 1952-63, Table Western State of Nigeria, Statistical Digest, Ibadan, table 11, p.13.

61Second, following the dwindling pool of animists to convert from, Christian groups now poach on one another for converts. This explains why the West, especially the Yoruba speaking area, is the birthplace of almost all the indigenous African churches, including those founded since the 1970s. As we shall see in the remaining part of this chapter, these churches have assumed a fundamentalist posture. They spend their energy more on converting fellow Christians than non-Christians and trying, in the process, to prove themselves more doctrinally authentic than the older churches. The following turn of events later largely halted this effort.

  • 85 . My thanks go to Dr. A.G. Adebayo, himself a Muslim and an indigene of Iwo, for providing me with (...)
  • 86 . The fear expressed here by Muslims can be better understood when one recalls that, besides hiring (...)
  • 87 . Drawing insight from the events noted about Iwo, for example, Muslims must have come to the reali (...)

62The Federal Government had indicated its plan to introduce free Universal Primary Education by 1976. In preparation for this, especially to train the necessary personnel, the Western state government in 1974 made the three teacher training colleges in the state unconditionally accessible to all. Many Muslims responded well to this development and went to these schools. The churches which owned and ran these schools might have seen this development as an opportunity to convert the Muslims, but to the surprise of the Christians, the Muslims were not prepared to compromise their faith. Prior to 1974, in the largely Muslim-populated city of Iwo, for example,85 many Muslims, for fear of losing their children to the Christian faith,86 avoided sending their children to the Baptist College in the city — the bastion of Baptist Christian expansion in the area. The Muslims who went to this college called each other to prayer on the very first day of classes. Besides being the first time this happened in the school's history, a large turnout of Muslims gathered to pray and soon this became a regular feature in many schools in the state. It soon dawned on Christians, including those with a fundamentalist character, to start working together in order to arrest the Islamic awakening in the region.87

63Not only were Christians proportionately making more converts than the Muslims at the national level, but they were also making converts among Muslims at the regional level, including even in the Muslim-dominated North, as table 2 demonstrates.

Table 2. Census Figure of Religious Affiliation in Nigeria, 1931-1963

Table 2. Census Figure of Religious Affiliation in Nigeria, 1931-1963

Source: Census of Nigeria 1931, Vol.2, as cited in H.B. Cox, Census of the Southern Provinces, London, 1932, Table 5, p. 26; Population Census of Nigeria 1952-59, Department (of Statistics, Lagos, p. 9; The Population Census of the Northern Region of Nigeria, 1952, Department of Statistics, Lagos, Table 8, pp. 32-33; Census Population of Nigeria, Federal Office of Statistics, Lagos, 1963.

64Bolstered by its proportionately higher numerical growth compared to that of Islam, a confident Christianity came en masse to welcome the Catholic Pontiffs visit to Nigeria in 1982, which had been extended, ironically, at the invitation of a Muslim President. Wherever the Pope went, he was welcomed by a massive crowd that cut across religious affiliations. The climax of the visit was the Pope's ordination to the priesthood of the candidates from the Catholic major seminaries across the country. This, strategically, took place in Kaduna in full view of national and international cameras. Obviously, the church leaders were sending a clear political message to the nation, if not specifically to the Islamic ruling class: that Christianity had not only come of age but it had also come now to claim the rights commensurate with its numerical strength in Nigeria.

  • 88 . This assertion is very pertinent here especially because Muslim demands for an Islamic order for (...)
  • 89 . See Ismaila Isa, International religious organizations in Nigeria's body politic (with particular (...)

65At the root of CAN's message is the assertion: Since the democratic exercise, among other things, is a game of numbers, Christians ought to get what is commensurate with their numbers.88 This is because, ‘according to recent estimates, the two dominant religions in the country, Islam and Christianity, are said to be numerically parallel’.89 The new numerical status of Christianity has also heightened other areas of tension where the Christians, in the minority, are seen as targets by the local Muslim communities; this in turn politicizes the Christians. This aside, the phenomenal numerical growth of Christianity, however, did not mean that all was well with the churches. In fact they had the ‘pangs’ that go with growth, all of which contributed to a politicized CAN.

Consequences of the churches' phenomenal growth

66The rise of new churches in the 1970s contributed towards CAN's ascendency in national politics. It is not easy to say whether these new churches — in their old or new variants — were founded with the aim of earning a living or, in the case of the newer ones, were avenues for resolving the war psychosis. Social scientists can only speculate on the motives behind these religious movements, but the point remains that the leaders or founders of these movements hardly move around to canvass for membership. Membership is often drawn from people visiting them who are won over more by their actions than by their message. Despite being professionals and highly educated individuals, these visitors simply put their expertise at the service of the founder or leader with unequivocal diligence.

  • 90 . See our description of this in chapter two.

67As mentioned earlier in chapter four, the popularity of the new churches was such that they were attracting some of the members of the old churches. Under the cover of darkness, some who were not prepared to desert the old churches still visited the new ones for what they considered to be a more fulfilling spiritual experience. Liturgically, the fulfilment could come by way of expressive worship punctuated with dances, songs in local style or idiom, clapping, etc. Socially, it could come by way of prayers for individuals seeking a job, or a marriage partner, or a child or a cure — to name a few of the utilitarian aspects of religion — to which, in the mould of the African traditional view of religion,90 these new churches pay attention. Whatever the reason may be, people were calling into question the old practices in the old churches. In recent times, however, the question has crystallized into a disillusionment over, and dissatisfaction with, the discord in the churches. A few examples are worth noting.

  • 91 . See, for details, Newswatch, July 14, 1986, pp.18-19.

68Among the Catholics, there was a conflict between their church and the members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement — the ‘Catholic charismatics’ as they came to be called.91 Offering an explanation for their emergence, Archbishop Okogie believes:

  • 92 . ibid., p. 20.

It is as a result of lack of faith in priests who hardly even have time to pray after Masses. In those days, priests were seen as next to God but people today don't trust some priests any more.92

69Obviously the Archbishop — a well known opponent of the group — missed the point. For, as the name of the group suggests, it is out to 'renew' the Catholic Church. This is in so far as the Church's efforts at indigenization have largely remained at the level of personnel. Little happened in the area of the mode of worship; there was still little sensitivity and attentiveness to day-to-day human needs. Although the Church has been able to contain the group within its fold, it is still generally seen as suspect by the more orthodox mainly because of its Protestant idiosyncrasies.

  • 93 . ibid., p. 19.
  • 94 . ibid, p. 20.

70There was discord too within the Anglican Church communion. If it was not the members of St. Mark's Church, Offa, Kwara State, excising themselves from the rest of the Anglicans over the removal of the diocesan headquarters from Offa to Ilorin — the political center of the state93 — it was the Igbo Anglicans in Enugu insisting on having a ‘son of the soil’ as their bishop.94 In Ijebu Diocese, retired Justice L. Adesanya, former chancellor of the diocese, took Bishop IB. Akintemi to court, bragging to the press:

  • 95 . This Week, February 8, 1988, p. 22.

My lawyer has written to the Bishop … because I am taking him and others to court for redress. When the matter becomes an explosive one in court, you will have a lot to write in your newspaper.95

71There was also the rift at St. Saviour's Church, Lagos, in the Lagos Anglican Diocese. The issue centered around the affluent Anglicans in Lagos, whose favourite church was St. Saviour's, wanting their wishes to prevail over those of the constituted Anglican authority. Emmanuel N. Ekwunife, in the Vanguard newspaper, advised:

  • 96 . Vanguard, February 23, 1988.

The men of timber and caliber at St. Saviour's should retreat from their offensiveness and stop tempting the Bishop with their wealth and weight … Orderliness, which is the first law in heaven, should be given a chance to thrive and flourish on earth.96

  • 97 . Newswatch, July 14, p. 17.

72The most publicized rift in the churches was in the Methodist Church communion. The discord seems to have arisen on account of the varied perceptions of authority and power. Rev. B. Idowu, a retired Professor, and the father of the study of African Traditional Religion in Nigerian universities, felt that he ought to be seen as the patriarch, and addressed as His Pre-eminence' in the Methodist Church of Nigeria. The laity opposed this, believing that Idowu's desire for pre-eminence ‘is a sin of blasphemy’.97 The matter went to the law courts for resolution and soon produced two factions: the patriarchal fold led by Rev. Sunday Mbang and the laity led by Rev. Adeolu Adegbola.

  • 98 . ibid., p. 15.
  • 99 . ibid.

73Even the pentecostal churches caught the strange virus that was plaguing the old churches. As of 1986, the Cherubim and Seraphim movement had broken into nearly 50 factions, with Geoffrey Otubu and Christiana Abiodun Emmanuel leading the two most prominent ones.98 The Celestial Church of Christ had its own baptism of fire barely a week after the death of its founder and leader, Pastor Oschoffa, on September 10, 1985. An Ibadan-based part of the Church, under the leadership of one Fasugba, separated itself from the main church in opposition to certain practices in the Church, including polygamy.99 But Fasugba's opposition was an early warning of what was to happen two years later when the struggle for Oschoffa's succession narrowed down to two contestants, Alexander Bada and Samuel Ajanlekoko. Although the leadership struggle eventually ended up with Bada being installed leader, it was not before the matter had gone to court.

  • 100 . M. Ojo, The growth of campus Christianity and charismatic movements in western Nigeria (Ph.D. the (...)

74One common feature discernible in the discord within the churches was a struggle over power. The conflicts within the churches fit into our understanding of politics and politicization. However, the conflicts were caused largely by selfishness; they had little to do with evangelization — the vocation of the churches. Thus, the conflicts, in a way, added some fuel to the increase of fundamentalism within the Christian fold as people began to look for alternative Christian witness. It is in this context that one could place the brand of revivalist Christian radicalism that congealed into what M. Ojo called ‘Campus Christianity’ — a motley Christian group that has swept through the universities since the mid-seventies.100 Prominent here was William Folorunso Kumuyi's ‘Deeper Life Ministry’. As noted above, these new pentecostal churches were primarily aimed at Christians and not at non-Christians. But this was because the discord within the older churches was hindering the realization of the urgent task ahead — the conversion of Nigeria to Christ. As someone puts it:

  • 101 . See New Nigerian, July 18, 1985.

Today, many churches have lost the power of God because of sins in their midst and compromise with the world. God has removed his candle from the forefront churches and has called one or two persons to go out to establish Pentecostal churches which the church leaders now call mushroom churches … The world is growing and must be evangelized. The Catholic, Protestant, and oldest churches cannot do it alone. No church can do it with the provision of essential amenities alone. This is the work of the Holy Ghost and only they that are filled with the Holy Ghost can evangelize this world.101

  • 102 . For details see the cover stories of Newswatch, November 4,1985; July 14,1986; June 6, 1988; The (...)

75Soon these pentecostal churches swept across the country, and were already in northern Nigeria by 1980. Their non-denominational, puritanical, and fundamentalist Christianity not only posed a serious challenge to the old churches — their main target102 — but also began to cause ripples among Muslims across the country, especially in the North. The situation was so rife that Okogie had to appeal for the government's assistance when he said:

  • 103 . New Nigeria, June 21, 1985.

If the number of churches is not curbed immediately, Nigeria would be in a bad state. Everybody is afraid of a religious war, and once it breaks out, it can never be stopped.103

76Obviously the situation must have been grave for Okogie to make this appeal despite his well-known opposition to the government's involvement in religious matters.

  • 104 . Newswatch, July 14, 1986, p. 20.

77CAN had to confront the emergent fundamentalism of the new pentecostal churches as well as the internal feuds within its own churches. CAN pondered the best approach to achieve this goal and still be able to coordinate Christian opposition to attempts to erode the constitutional secularity of the nation. The approach could not be based on morality when even church leaders themselves were exposing their weaknesses to the public. For instance, the Rev. Sunday Mbang, while reacting to the conflict within his own church, had said: Many Christians are chameleons and wolves in sheep's clothing … They are the nation's problems and the disasters of the Christian religion;104 The next and, perhaps, more viable approach was one based on politics. CAN would adopt this to increase its numerical and therefore political strength for national politics. For, around this same period, the 1980s, the pentecostal churches were flocking to and pleading for membership in CAN. This was in their desperate quest for political respectability at the governmental level as, we may recall, they were not invited by the government to the meeting with church leaders that saw the birth of CAN.

  • 105 . See Okogie's profile in the preceding chapter.

78The preceding developments notwithstanding, there was need for the kind of leadership that would uphold discipline and speak in conservative tones in order to retain the support of the fundamentalist and orthodox Christians alike. The candidate for such leadership ought to have been personally politicized enough to lead CAN fearlessly against the politicians and their military counterparts. No one was better qualified for this than Archbishop Anthony Olubunmi Okogie.105 For an association which had been sensitized for a more politicized role in the country — thanks to the Shari'a law debates, the OIC issue, and the Muslim-led religious riots against the Christian faith — Okogie had momentum on his side. His leadership has galvanized the churches to the highest level of political consciousness, so far, in the history of the country.

79But there is need to pause for a moment over this new political consciousness. For, as someone had remarked:

  • 106 . African Concord, June 11, 1990, p. 29.

Okogie's struggle may be for the ideal Christian virtues. It may not be. But he is growing admirable by the day. One hopes that, in trying to stir the house aright, he does not pull it down.106

80Thus, one is led to ask: what is the quality of CAN's politics or the politicization of its membership, especially in light of the country's need for a more egalitarian society? The attempt to answer this question will be the focus of the next chapter.

Notes

1 . For instance, it was while Mallam Isma'ila Idris was in the Army as an Imam (religious teacher) that he founded the Izala Movement — a fundamentalist group within Islam. By the time he was discharged from the Army on April 7, 1978, his movement was, perhaps, the most popular and militant Muslim fundamentalist group in the country. On the Christian side, Major Henry Oladele's oratory was such that he became one of the most sought-after preachers within Christian fundamentalist circles.

2 . See The Guardian, January 24, 1991, p. 9.

3 . Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Northern Zone, Leadership in Nigeria (to date): An analysis (Kaduna: CAN Publicity, Northern Zone, 1988), p.42, (hereafter cited as CAN Northern Zone).

4 . The Rt. Revd. T.E. Ogbonyomi, The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Diocese of Kaduna at St. Christopher's Church, Kaduna, April 11, 1987, p. 13.

5 . This information was provided in the course of an interview that took place in Sokoto on 15th February, 1991 on condition that the identity of the informant, a Muslim, was protected.

6 . CAN Northern Zone, op. cit., p. 42.

7 . See O.B.C. Nwolise, Awolowo and religion in Nigeria, In: Obafemi Awolowo: The end of an era?, O.O. Oyelaran et al. (eds.), op. cit., 1988, pp. 857-858.

8 . For details on this issue, see Catholic Diocese of Jos, Contemporary Islam and Nigeria, p. 17.

9 . See Citizen magazine, August 12, 1991, p. 26.

10 . ibid, p. 28.

11 . See as cited, ibid., pp. 27-28.

12 . ibid., p. 29.

13 . Interview with Professor I. Audu, Zaria, January 30, 1991.

14 . See, for example, Y.B. Usman et al., Our stand on the OIC, New Nigeria, February 3, 1986.

15 . See CAN Northern Zone, op. cit., p. 27.

16 . Newbreed, January 21, 1991, p. 9.

17 . Interview with C.N. Ubah, Kaduna, January 26, 1991.

18 . Cited from V.C. Chukwulozie, The Mohammedia Colloquium of 1985 — A Nigerian viewpoint, Bulletin on Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa, Vol. 4, No. 3, July, 1986, pp. 9-10.

19 . Muslim Students' Society (MSS), Radiance (ZAria: MSS, Ahmadu Bello University, January-March, 1982), p. 5.

20 . Koran, Chap. 30, v. 30, as cited in The Bounteous Koran, trans, by M.M. Khatib (London: Macmillan, 1986).

21 . Nowhere is this demand for Islamic militancy so well articulated as in Ibrahim Sulaiman and Siraj Abdulkarim (eds.) On the Political Future of Nigeria (Zaria: Hudahuda Publishing Co., 1988).

22 . A.M. Falaki, Politics: The Islamic approach, In: Sulaiman and Abdulkarim, op. cit., p. 20.

23 . A. Mustapha, Introduction, In: Sulaiman and Abdulkarim, op. cit., p. viii.

24 . Here we mean the politics behind the respective visits to Nigeria in 1982 of the Catholic Pontiff, Pope John Paul II, the Imam of Mecca, and Most Rev. Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

25 . Taken from the dedicatory note in Chuba Okadigbo, The Mission of the NPN. (Enugu: Ejike R. Nwankwo Associates, 1981).

26 . ibid., p. 6 (emphasis as found in the original).

27 . See J.K. Olupona, Religion and politics, In: The Politicization of Society during Nigeria's Second Republic, 1979-1983, S. Gbadegesin, (ed.), (New York, 1991) pp. 169-170.

28 . See J.N. Paden, Religion and Political Culture in Kano (Berkeley, 1973), pp. 570-571.

29 . West Africa, 7th November 1983, p. 2592.

30 . ibid.

31 . Quoted in West Africa, June 20, 1989, p. 9454.

32 . National Concord, January 19, 1983.

33 . CAN Northern Zone, op. cit., p. 24.

34 . ibid., pp. 24-25.

35 . ibid., p. 23.

36 . Besides the sacking of Ukiwe, the removal of Professor Akinyemi as Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs should also be noted, mainly, as alleged by Christians, because of his consistent stand against the country's full membership in the OIC and government's continued non-recognition of the State of Israel. See The African Guardian, June 18, 1990, pp. 21-24.

37 . Here we recall Colonel Y. Madaki's dismissal, later commuted to retirement, from military service because, while Governor of.Gongola State, he dared to depose an Emir, Alhaji Umaru Abba Tukur of Mubi Emirate, whose 21 years of iron-handed, corrupt, and oppressive actions against his subjects were known. See Times Week, May 6, 1991, pp. 15-16.

38 . Newswatch, September, 21, 1988, pp. 10-17.

39 . Here one recalls Babangida's usually prompt response to Dasuki's wishes and views. A good example was Babangida's adjustment of his views — first, against and then in support — on the open ballot system to suit Dasuki's view on the matter on either occasion. There was also the case of Babangida's refusal to re¬open the six southern-based universities which were closed after the students' anti-Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) riots of May 1989. This was despite the pleadings by an elder statesman of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe's stature — the first President of the country — and even by a delegation of prominent traditional rulers and chancellors of universities in the country, led by the Ooni of Ife. But when Dasuki lent his weight in support of the request, having been won over earlier by the Oba of Lagos, Adeyinka Oyekan II, Babangida acceded to Dasuki's wish and had the universities re-opened. See Times Week, May 6,1991, pp. 12-14.

40 . Newswatch, November 21, 1988, p. 17.

41 . See the text of the address by President Ibrahim Babangida at the inaugural meeting of the Committee on Nigeria's membership in the Organization of Islamic Conference, National Concord, 8 February, 1986, see also New Nigeria, October 25, 1988.

42 . See Report of Tribunal of Inquiry on Kano Disturbances (Lagos: Federal Government Press, 1981), p. 82.

43 . ibid.

44 . ibid., p. 89.

45 . As quoted in The African Guardian, June 18, 1990.

46 . ibid., p. 28.

47 . ibid, p. 30.

48 . Newbreed, Lagos, January 21, 1991, p. 11.

49 . J.K. Olupona, op. cit., p. 153.

50 . See the Editorial page of al-Ra’ad, Vol. 2, No. 1, 1989.

51 . The editor-in-chief of this Magazine, Mohammed Haruna, is not only perceived by people as a pro-establishment intellectual but also has unequivocally stated his commitment to defend northern and Islamic interests. See Quality, a weekly magazine, April 20, 1989, p. 36.

52 . Interview with Bilkisu Yusuf, Kaduna, January 29, 1991.

53 . See Newswatch, May 6, 1991, p. 16; Confidential Report on Nigeria and the Religious Question by the highly placed Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (Jos; NIPSS, 1985), pp. 30 & 33; even Citizen, in its analysis of the April 1991 religious riot in Bauchi State, was specific enough to note how the Igbos for the umpteenth time became casualties in a war they knew nothing about. See Citizen, April 29, 1991, p. 17.

54 . See J. Kenny, O.P., The Shari'a question in Nigeria: A historical survey, In: Nigerian Studies in Religious Tolerance (Vol. I): Religions and their doctrines, CS. Momoh et al. (eds.) (Lagos: CBAAC/NARETO, 1989), p. 343.

55 . See Newswatch, December 12, 1988, pp. 14-20.

56 . See T. Tamuno, The Responsibility for Crime Control in Nigeria, Distinguished Lecture No. 10, (Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, Ibadan, December 1985), pp. 24-25.

57 . 'Lai Olorode, The politicisation of religion in Nigeria, In: CS. Momoh et al. (eds.) op. cit., p. 370.

58 . Quality interview with Abubakar MahmoudGumi, October 1987, pp. 34-39, esp. p. 35.

59 . ibid., p. 39.

60 . Free Nation (Kaduna: Emancipation Publishers Ltd., November 1988).

61 . The African Guardian, June 18, 1990, p. 20.

62 . M.H. Kukah, Religion and politics in northern Nigeria since independence, Ph.D. thesis, University of London, 1989, esp. pp. 84-141.

63 . As noted, In: Catholic Diocese of Jos, op. cit., p. 57.

64 . ibid., pp. 24-25.

65 . There are, of course, various explanations for the takeover of schools by government. One explanation is that offered by nationalists, who believed in the first place that a takeover was necessary to guarantee the state a say in the formation of its own citizens, or else the churches would use the schools to form citizens whose allegiance to the state might be doubtful. Another reason is that offered by Muslims like Fafunwa, whose aversion to the control of the educational system by the churches stems from the belief that the churches have been centres of evangelization, that they are part of the colonial gains by Christians, and that too many Muslims who have gone through these schools have ended up as Christians. In reaction to this view, there are some Christians who, therefore, see the takeover of schools as an attempt by the hidden hand of Muslims to Islamize the country. In this connection, the likes of Ukpabi Asika, a Christian and the first governor to take over schools, are seen as mere stooges for the Northern ruling class. In terms of the internal power struggles within Christianity, especially in the Christian-dominated Eastern part of the country-where Catholics have a numerical dominance over Protestants, some Catholics saw the takeover as a move by the Protestants to forestall Catholic ascendancy to political power.

66 . Here we note the growth of Catholicism in the dioceses of Onitsha and Owerri — the two major centres of Catholicism in Igboland. While the number of parishes in Onitsha between 1965 and 1980 grew from 27 to 36, the clergy grew from 9 to 65 (excluding the Diocese of Awka which, prior to 1977, was part of Onitsha). Owerri was even more impressive. Between 1970 and 1980, its number of parishes grew from 50 to 62, and the clergy from 15 to 129! (These figures are culled from V.A. Nwosu (ed.), The Catholic Church in Onitsha (Onitsha: Etukokwu Press, 1985); Makozi and Ojo (eds.), op. cit.; and The 1991 Catholic Diary and Church Directory (Abuja: Ambassador Publications, 1991).

67 . The Leader, from Sunday, January 25 to February 7, 1981, p. 1, as cited in Makozi & Ojo (eds.) op. cit., p. 48.

68 . E.P.T. Crampton, op. cit., p. 158.

69 . See Carol Virginia McKinney, The Bajju of central Nigeria: A case study of religious and social change (Ph.D thesis: Southern Methodist University, 1985), pp. 264-268.

70 . Here, we will rely on Fr. Raymond Hickey's small but authoritative book — undoubtedly the most insightly account, so far, of the history of the Catholic Church in Northern Nigeria. See R. Hickey, op. cit., pp. 1-53-

71 . ibid., p. 40.

72 . ibid., p. 41.

73 . ibid.

74 . ibid., p. 43.

75 . R. Hickey, op. cit., p. 50.

76 . Accounts about Fr. Raffrys work were given to me by Fr. L. Burke (see Burke interview, February 25, 1991).

77 . R. Hickey, op. cit., p. 47.

78 . I say this in the light of the lived-experience I gained during the two years I worked as a Catholic priest in a number of parishes in Sokoto Diocese.

79 . See the dedication in B.P. Tanko, op. cit., where the author pays special tribute to his late mother without whose support he and his younger sister (Lucky Tanko) would not have been a Catholic priest and a nun, as they are today.

80 . See appendix 6 for a confirmation of this growth.

81 . It is worth noting here that, apart from those federal facilities such as unity secondary schools which are provided across the states of the federation, the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, which came in the wake of the 1978-1983 civilian government's era, and a vehicle assembly plant at Enugu, major federally owned or sponsored establishments have hardly been sited in the Igbo-speaking part of the country since the end of the war. Even most of the reconstruction of the war-torn Igbo-speaking area, like the provision of pipe-borne water and of electricity, was done largely through the people's communal efforts.

82 . Here we mean the Western and Mid-Western Regions, or what used to be the old Western Region before the creation of the Mid-Western Region.

83 . See as cited in E.P.T. Crampton, op. cit., p. 174.

84 . J.S. Trimingham, The Christian Church and Islam in West Africa (London: SCM, 1956) p. 13.

85 . My thanks go to Dr. A.G. Adebayo, himself a Muslim and an indigene of Iwo, for providing me with the background for the references on Iwo.

86 . The fear expressed here by Muslims can be better understood when one recalls that, besides hiring Christians to teach Islamic studies in the schools, some principals denied admission to non-Christians and those unwilling to submit themselves to Christian formation. Thus, most of the elites from Iwo, for example, are Christians who were former Muslims prior to their going to Christian schools. In fact, until most recently, all Iwo people in education (that is, professional teachers) were Christians. For example, Christians have always headed Iwo Grammar School, which is owned by the Iwo community. When the Iwo Muslim community wanted its own headmaster to head its secondary school, the Ahmaddiya Grammar School, in the city, there was no Iwo Muslim professionally qualified for the job as required by government. The community had to make do with Lam Adesina, a Muslim from Ibadan; when he left for politics, the Muslims were constrained to hire temporarily a Christian from Iwo in anticipation of the day when a qualified Iwo Muslim for the post could be found (cf. ibid).

87 . Drawing insight from the events noted about Iwo, for example, Muslims must have come to the realization that they must begin to assert themselves and their interests more forcefully than before or else what was happening to the traditional religion practitioners in the region might also happen to them.

88 . This assertion is very pertinent here especially because Muslim demands for an Islamic order for the country are premised on the belief that the democratic imperative is such that the will of the majority must take precedence over that of the minority. The implication is that since Muslims, as they claim, are in the majority, democratic justice demands that their religious world view should have a constitutional dominance in the country. The claim to a Muslim majority may be correct if one means Islam as a religious group among others. But the others, together, defeat the Muslim claim. Until the recent census record of Nigeria's population as 88 million, there was no generally accepted figure in the country. For political reasons, the government excluded from the census any enquiry regarding one's religious affiliation. Thus, there is still no accepted number of adherents of the three major religions in Nigeria. What is beyond doubt, however, is this: if the trends in the growth of the two religions are examined, the edge seems to tilt in favour of Christianity (see, for instance, the 1931, 1952, and 1963 census figures). There is no evidence to show that this trend has changed. If anything, it is highly plausible that the numeral superiority Islam used to have over Christianity at the national level has been brought almost to par or, in the North, drastically narrowed down by Christianity, as a result of its phenomenal growth since the 1970s.

89 . See Ismaila Isa, International religious organizations in Nigeria's body politic (with particular reference to Christianity and Islam), an essay submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the mni (Kuru, Jos: National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies, 1987), p. 30.

90 . See our description of this in chapter two.

91 . See, for details, Newswatch, July 14, 1986, pp.18-19.

92 . ibid., p. 20.

93 . ibid., p. 19.

94 . ibid, p. 20.

95 . This Week, February 8, 1988, p. 22.

96 . Vanguard, February 23, 1988.

97 . Newswatch, July 14, p. 17.

98 . ibid., p. 15.

99 . ibid.

100 . M. Ojo, The growth of campus Christianity and charismatic movements in western Nigeria (Ph.D. thesis, King's College, London, 1986).

101 . See New Nigerian, July 18, 1985.

102 . For details see the cover stories of Newswatch, November 4,1985; July 14,1986; June 6, 1988; The African Guardian, October 16, 1986; May 16, 1988; and September 5, 1988.

103 . New Nigeria, June 21, 1985.

104 . Newswatch, July 14, 1986, p. 20.

105 . See Okogie's profile in the preceding chapter.

106 . African Concord, June 11, 1990, p. 29.

Table des illustrations

Légende Source: Y. Turaki, 1982, p. 26.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/417/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 588k
Titre Table 1. 1963 Census Figures of Religious Affiliation in the Western Region (%)
Légende Source: Population Censuses of Nigeria, 1952-63, Table Western State of Nigeria, Statistical Digest, Ibadan, table 11, p.13.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/417/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 380k
Titre Table 2. Census Figure of Religious Affiliation in Nigeria, 1931-1963
Légende Source: Census of Nigeria 1931, Vol.2, as cited in H.B. Cox, Census of the Southern Provinces, London, 1932, Table 5, p. 26; Population Census of Nigeria 1952-59, Department (of Statistics, Lagos, p. 9; The Population Census of the Northern Region of Nigeria, 1952, Department of Statistics, Lagos, Table 8, pp. 32-33; Census Population of Nigeria, Federal Office of Statistics, Lagos, 1963.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/417/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 507k

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