The Proliferation of Religious Voices and the Competition for Followership and Patronage In Nigeria, 1999 - 2017

By: Ojo Rapheal  

Religious sphere in Nigeria has become highly fractured with different camps, groups, units and even empires with conspicuous designated identities which reflect their beliefs and at times their interest. Various religious actors/players are strongly competing for influence and to have and maintain considerable religious space in the society. In the quest to understand the impacts of such on the Nigerian society, the researcher used the historical, sociological and phenomenological approaches. It was discovered that since the beginning of the new democratic dispensation in Nigeria in 1999, there have been a renewed struggle that characterized the religious space such that there is a high level of "politicization of religion" and "religionization of politics" in different dimensions. Given this, competition for religious voices and followers has resulted in rapid increase of charismatic religious entrepreneurers whose interest is to outsmart others by "all means possible." As a result, hate speeches/religious polemics, mutual suspicion, mistrust and distrust have ensued. The work therefore recommended that, instead of the growing manipulation of religion because of political appointments, awarding of contracts, winning of elections, sponsorship of pilgrims, public recognition, among others, which in most cases often help in polarising the already fractured society, core religious values that promote dignity of humanity should be harnessed for the betterment of the society. The work concludes that, though religion has been severally manipulated in Nigeria for years now with dastard consequences, proper counter orientation can be employed by all concerned stakeholders in order to achieve a sustainable developed Nigerian nation.

Competition, Development, Religious Voice, Proliferation, Religious Space
The Politics of Religion
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Mr. Ojo Rapheal

Instructor/Tutor, Religion, Adekunle Ajasin University, Nigeria
Ondo, Nigeria

I am a lecturer with the Department of Religion and African Culture, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria. My research activities focus on Comparative study of religions in the world, with particular reference to Christian-Muslim relations in a multi-faith society with the bid to promoting religious respect and tolerance, thus, advocating for a peaceful co-existence in the contemporary society. I have published articles both locally and internationally. I have my B.A. degree in Christian Religious Studies (Keffi,First Class Hons.), M.A. in Comparative Religious Studies(Ilorin), and a Doctoral Student (Comparative Religious Studies) at the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria.