RELIGION AND DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS

ABSTRACT

Religion can serve as a strong tool in fostering development in any country, but when not properly managed it can also mar same. In this case, the negative effect comes when man fails to assert himself existentially but depends absolutely on religion to do everything for him. More often than not, he resorts to seeking for spiritual solution to most of his existential problems in various prayer houses. The consequences of such approach to issues cannot be far- fetched as it leaves the individual’s rational faculty dormant, and such individual cannot positively affect a desired change in himself and his environment. No wonder a country like Nigeria whose religiosity is high is still labeled a third- world country. This work is a wake-up call to all Nigerians who still wallow in religiosity to wake up and take charge of their existence. The work employs the philosophical methods of evaluation and appraisal. However, the work does not condemn the practice of religion in its totality, rather it decries the extreme notion in the minds of most Nigerians as it has a negative implication.

1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY

John Mbiti (1969) asserted that “religion is the strongest element in traditional background, and exerts probably the greatest influence upon the thinking and living of the people concerned.” [1] Mbiti also made another observation that “religion is in the African man whole system of being, as such wherever he is , there also you must see an element of his religion.[2] Having heard from Mbiti, one cannot but see Africans as highly religious people, but I have come to see that this approach of religiosity by Africans have a negative impact on her. At a point Africa was infected with manna from heaven syndrome, as such he depends on God to do virtually everything for him. To buttress this , I will illustrate with a story, thus; A certain Nigerian man, sated with his snuff addition, sought to break-off from such. He decide to go for a crusade scheduled for three days, all through his prayer was, “God please take away this snuff box from me”. On the third day of the crusade the host pastor overwhelmed by concern asked the man, “sir please where is this snuff box?” Surprising for me , the man answered, “it is in my pocket pastor.” It is really ridiculous for such a man to expert God to come from heaven to take away the snuff box from him without him doing it himself and maybe later ask God for the grace to follow up his decision.

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