Different strokes for different folks they say, contextualizing this saying to meet the Nigerian realities, it seems that within the confine of the Nigerian realities, each strokes for the different folks is defined or determined by the status, qualification, religious affiliation or tribal differences of the various types and kinds of ‘folks’ that we have in our nation.
This is a situation that has often found expression within our multi-faith and multi-ethnic purview. The popular book, Animal Farm written by George Orwell is not just popularly known and recognized for its total use of animal characters to spell out the ills of the human society, it also came up with the popular saying which reflected the ills and realities of social stratification that exist within our social setting, the saying goes, ‘all animals are equal, but some are more equal than the others’.
The Nigerian society over the years of its existence has developed a pathetic way of showing preferential treatment to people based on their social setting. How do we explain that in a setting where the rule of law is counted and held supreme, the sons and daughters of the rich are deemed above the law, either secular law or religious law.
While in some lights, this can be expected to happen in a secular setting where secular law guide and dictates the rules of engagement and interaction, what then do we say when such act becomes one of the prominent feature of our socio-religious setting?
By dictates of natural design and configuration, religious laws or institutions are expected to be the custodian of moral values and the holders of the universal laws or ethics, which are love, peace, justice, fairness etc. while we live in a world full of variations of features, that is one with a great deal of cultural relativism, the universal values or absolutes which I earlier mentioned are values which are found in all cultures of the world irrespective of climes, times or continent.
It is however rather pathetic to see our religious institution, one which is expected to be the custodian of these moral absolutes overnight turn to an institution that will undermine the significance and objectivity of these values.
In the face of God, all men are created equal, and must be treated equal, just like the popular saying which I had earlier picked from the book Animal Farm, however in the face of the fact that we do objectively agree to the position that all men are created equal, then we must begin to ask ourselves some salient questions regarding how we have allowed the fabrics of religion to veil us from embracing the truth values of our religious worldview to treating everyone irrespective of their status right, as equals before the face of the Divine.
Using the recent story of popular Kannywood actress, Rahama Sadau who was recently subjected to various degrees of inhumane treatments after some Muslims had accused her of immoral dress pattern.
The beautiful actress had released certain pictures where she wore clothes revealing her back, after she had posted these pictures on the internet; she started to get a backlash from the Northerners who threatened to attack her over her mode of dressing. She was eventually suspended from the association by the Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria over her mode of dressing which was considered highly inappropriate by the body and other Northerners. She was reported to have apologized to her people after the incident.
Adding to this, the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police was reported to have ordered an investigation into the incident, similarly the son of the Kaduna State Governor, Bashir El-Rufai was also treated to a more similar treatment after pictures of him and his fiancee was uploaded online where he was seen to have held his fiancee in a way which the Northerners had called immoral, while they had abused him and castigated him, the son of the Kaduna state governor was reported to have silenced his accuser by saying that they would have to behead him first as he would not be forced to make any statement of apology.
Examining the two accounts of the two individuals in this discourse, no doubt, both were a victim of religious extremities and fanaticism; however we must paint scenarios whereby the Kannywood actress, Rahama Sadau had taken the position and stand which was taken by the son of the Kaduna State Governor, Bashir El-Rufai, we must bring ourselves to imagine the violence or punishment that would have been melted out on her.
While she lacks the audacity and courage to confront her accusers as done by Bashir El-Rufai, she had to swallow her pride, eating the humble pie, Bashir El-Rufai is free to walk the streets of Kaduna without fear of being molested, while his counterpart who suffered same fate as his would definitely lack the courage or audacity to walk the street of her community without being molested or subjected to inhumane treatment from the people.
The aforementioned illustration of these two figures is a testament and obvious proof of the imbalance that comes with the realities of our socio-religious purview. The rich and the privileged among us enjoy certain benefits that the common man cannot enjoy.
The implication of this pathetic and unfortunate situation is simple, if our religious institution and its adherents who are supposed to be the advocate of a reality that is ruled by the cores and values of fairness, justice, love etc. fails to imbibe these universal absolute which can be found in their respective holy books, one which forms the basics of their religious structures, then what hopes lies for the secular world, where the understanding of what is right and wrong is subjectively defined by individuals, where people can take laws into their hands without any recourse to no higher authority.
Our religious institution is one which is meant to serve as an exemplary figure, a body which is meant to show the light for others to follow, their failure in no small measure will definitely have a ripples effect on the moral standard of the secular world