The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has described religion as an institution that has made immense contribution to the socio-economic development of the country religion, as well as helped in modelling the character of individuals and the society as a whole.
Prof. Osinbajo made this assertion at the ninth Toyin Falola Annual International Conference on Africa and the Africans in Diaspora, with the theme, “Religion, the State and Global Politics”, held at Babcock University, Ogun State.
Represented by the Registrar, Joint Administration and Matriculation Board, Prof. Izaq Oloyede, the Vice President said, while some people used religion as a device to spread hate and violence, the place of religion in regional and global development could not be over emphasised.
He urged the conference to make available its findings, as the Federal government was making efforts to utilize the mandate given by the people to better their lives.
Also speaking, the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, who was the Chief host at the occasion, said religion has become a dividing factor, which has contributed to some of the security challenges currently facing the nation.
“There is no doubt that the theme for this conference would not have been more apt, considering the recent development in our policy and the connection of religion. Religion which should be the defining factor of bringing us closer to our creator, has suddenly become a dividing factor”, he said.
While affirming that religion could not be separated from matters relating to security, peaceful co-existence and socio-economic development, the Governor noted that people’s reactions and commitments are obtained from their religious beliefs, calling for practical approach in dealing with the criminals and a stiffer punishment for the perpetrators, for the country to get out of the mess.
“In Ogun State, we have marked out strategies in engaging religious leaders and all other people, so that apart from seeing religion as a tool of spiritual fulfilment, we will also see it as a vehicle that drives the economic viability of our dear state”, he said.
In his remark, the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, said there are more than 13 million out of school children in Nigeria and prompt attention should be given to education, as well as, seek international assistance to address security challenge in the country.
“Over thirteen million children of Nigeria, who should be in school are not in school, shouldn’t that be of concern to us, should we continue to leave with that, and it is increasing by the day, I believe that if we are really serious, we can prepare within two years and start two streams schools, one stream in the morning, one stream in the afternoon, and we will get them all into school”, he said.
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Matthew Hassan Kuka, in his contribution said, religion has become a source of war, especially in Nigeria, as people do not go to war for lack of social amenities, but for religion, stating that Nigeria’s problem was not religion itself, but the politicisation of religion, as the banditry and other forms of violence in the country was attributed to it.
The Clergyman said the nation’s problems would continue to persist and the country would not witness any development if the issue of diversity was not addressed.
In his welcome address, the President and Vice Chancellor, Babcock University, Prof. Ademola Tayo, said religion is one of the factors that shape global politics and has caused more wars that have claimed human lives more than any other war.
He said the conference, organised in honour of Prof. Toyin Falola, was to exchange views and ideas, with a view to finding workable solution to address problems plaguing the country and the continent at large.