Nine Decades of Progress


I’m not quite sure what Haught is going for here:

If he means the defeat of Christian nationalism or theocratic leanings, then I agree. However, removing religion from society shouldn’t be the goal of secular humanism, IMO. We should allow room for the full spectrum of the human experience which includes religion. I don’t want to live in a society where people feel shamed because they belong to religion . . . well, unless it’s Scientology, I have my limits.


If so, then it means discrimination due to one’s religious background would fester. In southeastern Nigeria, it would be extremely close to impossible to elect a Muslim governor. Our fear is that such person would favor policies that will enhance the penetration of Islam and if that happens it may soften the ground for Islamic Jihadists to extend their reach into that region. Of course, this is religious discrimination but it has partly helped to keep the vast majority of Boko Haram terrorist acts confined to northern Nigeria.

However, if everyone in Nigeria decided to become irreligious, it would not totally eradicate the problem, because the ethnic component would remain.

I think there is a clear line between private religious practices and public policy. If someone will promote theocratic policies that run counter to the democratic goals that society is striving towards then there is nothing discriminatory about voting against them. At the same time, strong protections of personal religious freedoms goes a long ways towards a more peaceful society. The US isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I would like to think that the Muslim community is welcomed and well respected within our borders. There are even Muslim elected officials, and they voice the support of the same ideals that people of other religions and no religion also support. I understand that the African continent has had a much different experience and history, but it can work if institutions are strong enough.

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Within the context of Nigeria, that line is very thin. The strong grip of religion on national politics is the reason why certain policies like the recognition of LGBQT rights would may never be actualized in Nigeria.

This is true, but intolerance and fear runs deep over here. My president is a Muslim and a Fulani tribesman, the perfect mix to be a victim of conspiracy theories. Many Igbos (and now other Nigerians) think he secretly sponsors the recent, worrisome increase in Fulani herdsmen attacks in different parts of the country. His irritating latitude towards the crisis has further heightened suspicions that he or the cabal behind him intend to subdue all of Nigeria in the bid to make it an Islamic republic. I don’t buy these conspiracy theories, but with the way things are currently spiralling out of control, its no wonder the different religious groups are generally suspicious of each other. Not surprisingly, these suspicions manifest as intolerance.

Muslims and Christians are welcome in any part of Nigeria, but we don’t trust each other that much.


My heart goes out to African countries like Nigeria. There is so much potential in the people of Nigeria, and it is frustrating to see young democracies stumble under the weight of conflict and corruption. I wish there was a switch we could flip to make Nigeria a prospering democracy.

Trust is very difficult after conflicts between groups. The same thing has happened in European democracies, such as The Troubles in Ireland that saw Protestants and Catholics in conflict with each other. Mixing politics with religion and tribalism can be quite toxic.


Sometimes we Nigerians comically tell ourselves it would be better if our former colonial masters ruled over us again. Its really frustrating the way things have turned out.

In our case it was the Biafran civil war that fatally wounded the unity of Nigeria. My tribesmen (Igbos) were slaughtered en masse by the Hausa-Fulani, leading to the war. Ever since then, there has been this deep-seated enmity between Igbos and the Hausa-Fulanis. All it takes is one spark to light the fuse of another (deadlier) civil war. Its sad that people in the southeast are largely indifferent to the terrorist acts in the northeast: some of my peers even say things like, “they deserve it for what they did to us during the civil war”. Now throw in religion, making the largely Christian southerners see the largely Muslim northerners as potential jihadists.

A toxic cocktail indeed. All attempts to foster national unity have largely failed. Nigeria is a failed democratic state and is probably heading towards division into smaller countries.

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A relative of mine by marriage is the original inventor of the term “secular humanism”. He himself isn’t one, though.

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Except I just looked it up and the phrase is apparently older than that…

I can see where that sentiment comes from. It’s a bit like sports where you need a neutral referee to step in and call fouls and points.

If there is one thing many Western democracies have done right is severely limit corruption. Western democracies are by no means perfect, but there are tons of safeguards in place that prevent open and severe corruption by politicians. When corruption seeps into government institutions it is like a disease. In the US, we see this occurring in the country to our south where drug money has seeped into government and corrupted many of those institutions. Brave Mexican citizens are fighting back against it, but it can be a frustrating struggle.

The other hard part is getting past social grudges. A neutral third party would be beneficial in this regard.

I think we had potent barricades to corruption for some time after we achieved independence from the British, but its almost entirely gone now. As we speak, Covid-19 palliative funds (1.5 billion naira/ 3.9 million dollars) given to one Nigerian institution is yet to be properly accounted for: the then director had to feign fainting to halt further inquisition from the (equally corrupt) senate panel.

Our institutions are deeply compromised and it has contributed to the rapid decline of Nigeria.

Same here, but in my country’s case, nothing is going change. Its only a revolution that might work.

This is kinda impossible too, when a good chunk of members of the three major tribes want to go their separate ways.

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Interesting. During my time in India, I was amazed by learning that much of Indian corruption was retained from the British occupation, which was intelligently designed to loot the country.

IMO, the Indians should have concentrated on destroying that bureaucracy instead of kicking out the British people. Is the situation in Nigeria similar?

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Oh sure the British weren’t perfect “overlords”. They looted Nigeria as well and made hasty decisions with regards to her amalgamation. Its also likely they had indigenous helpers as well, but I don’t think the situation was as dire compared to now. According to older sources like my parents, things in Nigeria were good for a while after the British left, but it was a good dream that lasted for a short time.

Nah, I am actually glad the British were expunged. We could have ejected the British and still suppressed the corrupt indigenous bureaucrats, but the latter didn’t happen and we are where we are today.

I think one of the worse aspects of colonialism was the enforcement of arbitrary borders that have little in the way of a natural, demographic basis. This, I suspect leads to greater toleration of corruption due to tribal loyalties (‘better our side’s corrupt incompetent leader than the other side’s one’). Where, as seems to be the case in Nigeria, tribal loyalties are reinforced by religious loyalties, this effect will likely be intensified.


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