By Adenitan Akinola

Religious tolerance has been largely responsible for the relative peace being enjoyed in the Southwest part of Nigeria.

This is not without occasional disruption by disagreements among adherents of different faith.

On 30th of March this year members of the Muslim sect and Traditional worshipers of Obatala extraction clashed in Ile-Ife leading to the destruction of property, while six persons allegedly sustained injury.

It took the maturity of the leaders of the various religions to prevent the faceoff from being escalated to a more sinister crisis.

Before the Ile-Ife incident, the peace of Osogbo was disrupted on the 27th of June 2021 when a Moslem group and Traditional worshipers clashed during an attack on a mosque leading to the death of a person and varying degrees of injury on 12 others.

In towns like Osogbo the state capital and ile-Ife among many other towns, churches, mosques and shrines exist together, while worshipers attend to their faith without rancour.

This further attest to a research findings led by Professor Adekoya Ogen, sponsored by University of Birmingham which suggested that the Southwest Nigeria is where various religions coexist in the world without acrimony.

What could now be responsible for the occasional faceoff among worshipers of these religions?

Speaking on the matter, President of the Traditional worshipers, Osun State Chapter Dr Oluseyi Atanda blamed the new ugly trend of religious intolerance on loss of love and moral values in the society which he argued was manifesting in different forms of vices ranging from ritual killings to internet fraud and endemic corruption.

Dr Atanda also submitted that the manner adherents of the two foreign religions talked down on traditional religion and make it a centre of their sermons was capable of promoting discord.

“Government should as soon as possible save enact a law to regulate religion activities in Nigeria, with a view to ensuring that adherents respect the rights of others to their doctrines as long as it does not affect theirs, so that talking down and castigating ‘Orisa’ and it’s worshipers all the times the two imported religions can be abolished”. Doctor Atanda said.

On his part, the Bishop of Methodist Church, Osogbo Diocese, The Rt Reverend Amos Ogunrinde contended that what happened occasionally was not religious per se, but crisis fueled by poor governance and injustice.

Bishop Ogunrinde believed that all religions preached peace. “I am aware that Christianity, Islam and evening the traditional religion emphasis peace with neighbours in their teachings. Most times, people only use faith to actualize personal agenda since they know it’s the only mechanism that can easily sway the ordinary man on the street “.

In his own submission, the Chairman of Osun Muslim community, Alhaji Mustapha Olawuyi pointed out that ignorance of the tenets of the religions would make an adherents resulted to conflict with people of other faith.

Alhaji Olawuyi also suggested that poor economic indices played a significant role in the aggressive reactions of people which is hidden under the guise of religion.

The leaders of the various faith maintained that government had a key role to play in enhancing economic performance and quality life of the citizens as well as regulating the conducts of each religion within the ambit of the Law.

It must be emphasized that Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution mandates that Nigeria shall not adopt any state religion, while Section 38 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of individual citizens to practice religion of his or her choices without interference.

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