OF FULL STOPS by Adéwálé Ṣóbọ̀wálé

I was gisting with a pastor of one of the popular Pentecostal churches yesterday, and I was surprised with how little he knows about the most basic of things.

For instance, he did not know the procedure of Islamic banking. That is, the bank does not discriminate on religious basis. I actually had to tell him that there are Islamic banks in the United Kingdom. I told him that those people who wanted to bring the bank to Nigeria did not intend to islamize Nigeria.

They were business people that intended to make good profit from every investment.

We talked about the current brouhaha by some religious groups over the secondary school syllabus. He was taking CAN’s position that Arabic studies should not have been put in the syllabus. I countered him by saying Arabic is just a language. In any case no pupil is being forced to learn Arabic. By the way, a section of the country takes Arabic Studies seriously.

As for Christian Religious Studies and Islamic Religious Studies being mixed up with Civic Education, I told him that as far as I am concerned, religion should be a very personal issue.

Since we are operating a secular constitution, there shouldn’t be religious studies in our school syllabus. Or better, we should create equity by introducing African Traditional Religious studies since there are some people who practise these religions.

He then introduced the case of a deceased prominent politician who was said to have sunk a shipload of Bibles in the ocean. I countered him by saying it was just an ungrounded rumour.

You see, we are fond of generalizing in this nation. Maybe it’s because our weather is so favourable that we can afford to gossip a lot.

But I believe if we can watch our tongues and body languages, the Nigerian agenda can still work. Let us all not be too proud to admit the fact that we have wronged each other. But we need to move on.

We have called the Igbo yanmirin, the Hausa an Aboki, and the Yoruba a Ngbati.

That’s even a lesser evil. We killed innocent souls in the bloody coups d’ etat of 1966. We went ahead to prosecute a civil war in which millions were killed and maimed.

We have played the biblical prodigal son with this nation’s gold and silver. We are now filled with blames for other ethnic groups but our own.

Our own ethnic groups are like Caesar’s wife, totally blameless.

We are now seriously beating the drums of war. We do not seem to have learnt from history.

We should set aside a day for forgiveness of our various wrongs against each other. Then we should begin a process of righting the wrongs.

Let’s forget about federal character and quota system in favour of merit. Let’s forget about states going to Abuja to beg in favour of fiscal federalism.

Let all hands be on deck and with God’s help this country will be great again.

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