Religion has, over the years, become a clog in the wheels of our national development. Not just because preachers have exploited loopholes inherent in religious texts to manipulate, oppress and cause unrest, but that politicians have also come to utilise it to suppress the people’s anger and force them to endure the greed-induced suffering imposed by the political class who has taken it upon themselves to ensure that the country remains in darkness.

Religion constitutes a sizeable chunk of Nigeria’s problems. Worst still is the fact that unlike the problems caused by political evil, religious underdevelopment is not always visible. It is the underdevelopment and shackling of the mind that prevents us from reasoning positively. People would rather leave matters to God, than act in a way that communicate their displeasure towards the issues of political cluelessness.

Unlike science that stands on theoretical and experimental concepts, religion deals with one’s ability to believe that which one is told, and any attempt to critically question, interrogate or scrutinise such is seen as sin that deserves punishment.

Religion is based on revelation given to a select prophets passed on to generations through ancient texts that have been rewritten over time with no proof. One wonders why universal revelations have not been given to the prophets of today.

Isn’t it a wonder that despite the incredible development in the field of medicine, some intelligent by half religious leaders in Nigeria believe that drinking holy water or olive oil will cure diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, and sickle cell anaemia? Yet when the same religious leaders take ill, they run to foreign hospitals with standard equipment to get treatment but will deceive their gullible followers into believing that buying sticker or handkerchiefs will protect them from evil?

No country has prayed its way out of poverty and diseases, like the ones ravaging Nigeria. Rather, to reduce poverty and all sundry ills bedeviling the society, countries have turned to science and the art of human reasoning to solve multitude of problems. This is why in most developed countries, religion has declined with churches folding up. However, in our case, development is declining while churches are springing up because we are asked to pray instead of searching for solutions to our very own national problem.

It will take a masochist to think that a country that borrowed the Federal system of government from the United States of America only to implement it half way, would pray itself out of its many problems. Why has the Nigerian political class failed to restructure the country? Why has the religious leaders failed to lend their voices to restructuring?

I’d like to believe that if we deal a deadly blow to religious excesses in Nigeria, we are half way into solving our myriad of problems. And that entails getting the people to understand that for a nation to move forward and make progress, faith and belief have to give way for rationalism, critical evaluation of issues, and science. The emotional blackmail that is religion will have to go.

Let us even factor the opportunity cost of setting up religious houses through the acts of emotional blackmail by preachers. I have argued before, that if all the lands occupied by churches are used for farming, and if all the structures are built to be industrial complexes, unemployment will be far from Nigeria and development will be closer than one imagined. Also, the number of manhours Nigerians put into religious activities is a drain on human development.

Nigerians also fail to realise that billions of dollars sunk into religious pilgrimages would have been enough to fund education, health, and make up for other developmental shortfalls. But we take these monies to Saudi Arabia and Israel to increase their IGR only to come back and blame the imaginary Satan for our failures to think positively?

Our society should destroy religion, before religion destroys us…