TRADITIONAL RELIGION AND PILGRIMAGE.
Nigerians love religious ceremonies. Nigerians love going to pilgrimages in foreign lands. Nigerians can be recognized by liberally sprinkling every sentence with multiple Amens, God, Allah, Jesus, Blessed, Favored, and Prayers. Nigerians attribute every good thing to God or Allah and every bad event to an attack by the Devil or Evil Spirits. No death or illness in a Nigerian is natural, it is usually due to a spell cast on that individual by somebody else. There was the case of a 104-year-old lady who died and the children had to consult an Alfa to find out the perpetrator of this horrible event. I guess that she was aiming for the world record of 969 years set by Methuselah. Nigerians who die after a prolonged illness such as cancer have their cause of death listed as a brief illness in their obituary.
Pilgrimages are a national obsession in Nigeria. There are National Christian and Moslem Pilgrims Boards under the Presidency. Why is religion a state business in Nigeria? The President appoints and dismisses members of these Boards at his pleasure, and may be in 1000 years, at her discretion. Under normal conditions in a democracy, the Presidency has no business in controlling religious organizations but pilgrimages have become big business. Big money in Nigeria is always stored in bags full of holes. As this money flies out of the holes, every Nigerian wants to be close to the bags. No government attempts to seal the holes. Each successive government changes the personnel close to the bags. Consider the pilgrim boards to be bags of money. The Koran recommends one lifetime pilgrimage but Nigerian Moslems go to two pilgrimages every year (Umrah and Hajj). For 2016, pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem were given $1,000.00 at 197 Naira to the dollar while the white market rate is 400 Naira to the dollar. The Nigerian Government forbade banks from charging any commission for these foreign exchange transactions. It will be too sinful to do so. Allah or God forbid!!! The government lost an estimated 9.7 billion Naira to Christianity and Islam.
The Traditional Religionists are fuming at their exclusion from this government largesse and are gearing up to start making pilgrimages to their Umbanda, Voodoo, and Santeria brethren in Brazil, Haiti, or Louisiana, USA respectively. Once a Traditional Religion Pilgrim Board is established, Nigerians will start professing two religions – Christian or Islam and Traditional Religion. Since the Nigerian State is embroiled in Religion, the Nigerian Passport has to be modified to include religious affiliation to prevent double dipping. You have to declare for one religion and can only change at the expiration of your passport. A Moslem or Christian who “loses” his/her passport to facilitate a Voodoo trip to Haiti by claiming to be practicing Voodoo is denied a new passport unless the religious affiliation is unchanged. Every Nigerian is allowed one lifetime pilgrimage that is state-facilitated. Moslems choose either the Umrah or Hajj, Christians choose Rome, London, or Jerusalem, and Traditionalists choose Haiti, Louisiana, or Brazil. Anglicans may prefer London and Catholics may prefer Rome. And Lutherans may protest at the exclusion of Berlin. And do not forget the practitioners of The Church of Latter Day Saints who may choose Salt Lake City Utah, USA. What of the Adherents of the Baha’i, Rosicrucian, Hindi and Buddhist faiths? I anticipate lawsuits if any religion is excluded. Baha’is, Rosicrucians, and Buddhists may demand foreign exchange for trips to Teheran, Cairo, and New Delhi respectively.
To prevent all these brouhaha, the Nigerian Government should butt out of Religion and let every pilgrim buy his/her ticket and foreign exchange at the prevailing rates. Religiosity or Religiousness has not solved Nigeria’s problem but has worsened them as every act of commission or omission at any level of government is Divinely mandated or inspired. May be Nigerians should become more accountable to Nigerians.