Endangered democracy?: The struggle over secularism and its implications for politics and democracy in Nigeria
2010 (English)Report (Other academic)
This Discussion Paper critically examines the pivotal role religion plays in Nigerian politics, particularly as it relates to the ways Islamic and Christian identities have been manipulated by competing political elites in their struggle for power. It provides a concise but well-informed history of the evolution of the religious factor in politics and its adverse implications for Nigeria’s democracy. Its point of departure is a critique of the notion of a secular Nigerian state (as prescribed by the constitution), which shows how governments and politicians have taken advantage of constitutional loop holes and used state resources to foster the politicisation of religion, with serious consequences for society at large. Some of the adverse consequences identified include religious conflict, political instability, insecurity and the undermining of the country’s democracy and development. The study carefully peels away the outward display of religious piety by political elites and leaders to reveal some of the underlying personal and narrow calculations. Over time, these calculations have eroded the social elements binding relations in a multi ethnic, multi-religious setting such as Nigeria, and there have been periodic explosions of sectarian and communal violence in various parts of the country. The authors show how the politicisation and ethnicisation of religious differences have further fuelled conflict between competing groups and geopolitical interests in Nigeria and raised serious questions for Nigeria’s democracy, development and the nation-state project. While noting that religion cannot be completely de-linked from politics, the study proffers some suggestions to begin to address and reverse the adverse effects of the intrusion of religion into democratic politics in Nigeria, Africa’s largest country and leading oil producer.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet , 2010. , 25 p.
Discussion Paper, ISSN 1104-8417 ; 49
Politics, Religion, Secularism, State, Political power, Democracy, Islam, Christianity, Cultural pluralism, Religious groups, Political conflicts, Nigeria
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:nai:diva-1088ISBN: 978-91-7106-666-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:nai-1088DiVA: diva2:311793