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The Role of Religion and Human Rights in a Democracy



By Joseph Sangosanya

Religion is important in social governance, engaging in discriminatory campaigns based on faith and driving along political affiliation is a human rights abuse.

Manipulative and horrifying religious polarization by religious leaders is inappropriate in a constitutional democracy. What then can be defined proper relationship between religion, rule of law, and accountability in governance?

Religious leaders possess the moral authority to speak out against injustice and set grounds for executing laws with their primary spirit. The question now is what then are the religious leaders preaching to Nigerians about human rights abuse, democratic values, national interface, and space?

Our leaders must be seen promoting an open society as opposed to a secret society. Do our faith leadership see Nigeria as a country where the elected leaders have failed the generality of Nigerian citizens in their constitutional obligations and responsibilities? Have the faith leadership provide purposeful direction, ever inquire to know of the state of authority and competence of our leaders than being political stogies or inquire if norms, values, ethics, and democratic structures have collapsed also if the tradition of transparency and accountability is missing in our political space. Do our faith leadership examine and asked; Have we as religious leaders collectively critically probed the reasons behind banditry, insurgency, and terrorism that have taken over all zones in the country?

The fact remains that a state, society, and leader that allows his people to die of oppression, hunger, diseases, insecurity, ethnic violence, injustice, and homelessness as a result of bad governance, unfocused leadership, and corruption in all spheres of life, lack of accountability and transparency, without trying to save them is not a true reflection and genuine representative of the people!

This set of leaders is wicked, callous, and has no respect for human and democratic values. Let’s raise our voices in support of a credible electoral process, the beauty of democracy is the plurality of voices and opinions from our religious leaders and those who are beneficiaries of the democratic process should not work to constrict the civic space or be seen to favor preferred or anointed candidates.

The signal is that there were “ominous dark clouds gathering overhead” and they portend danger to free and fair elections, rules of law, and constitutional democracy as a whole.

Sangosanya writes from Abuja. He is a human rights activist, development expert, and publisher. He is the Executive Chairman of the Christian Foundation for Social Justice and Equity, an NGO.


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