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Opinion

#EndSARS Protests: The Deafening Silence Of Our Religious Leaders

With the nation seething from protests against the extrajudicial activities of officers of the Nigerian Police Force, especially operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other related tactical units, it is safe to say their cup of iniquity has indeed overflowed. The protests have been endorsed by both local and international celebrities, a handful of traditional rulers and even some political office holders dared to lend a voice to the cry of the nations younger generation. As of the time of writing this report, soldiers were alleged to have been marching alongside protesters in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. This follows an order from Governor Seyi Makinde for the police force to refrain from engaging protesters within the state. All lending credence to a struggle that may become one of the biggest turning points in the country’s history.

The loudest of all has been the silence of leaders of the major religious institutions of the country. None of the wave-making “Daddies” has come out openly to support the protests or condemn the indiscriminate killing of peaceful protesters and even on-lookers. Supo Ayokunle, the President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention and also President of the Christian Association of Nigeria is yet to make a statement about the situation, likewise, Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto and the most influential Islamic leader in the country, has been silent as far as the protests have been concerned. The verbal absence of the nation’s topmost religious leaders as such a critical time puts a question mark on the credibility of such religious groups as a pressure in day to day running of the country. 

In my church (name withheld), being in charge of the content that is displayed on the projector, I made a request to air pre-designed graphics that showed the solidarity of the church with the struggles of the protesting youth and twice my request was aggressively opposed, not just by elders of the church, but also by members of my generation stating that whoever “got themselves” killed by the SARS operatives or during the protests were on their own and not the concern of the church. Nothing, not even a prayer, was said in connection to the #endsars movement. While surfing on twitter, I was elated as I saw videos and images of churches that had identified and shown solidarity toward the protests. The joy was, however, dampened by images of churches who had shown indifference or even silenced any attempt to create awareness on the situation, like in my case. I cannot say much about my Islamic counterparts, although no public declaration has been made, save the actions of Aisha Yesufu, although they were not carried out on the basis of religious affiliation. 

It is noteworthy to remember that a prominent Pentecostal church developed a USSD code for payment of offering and tithes during the COVID-19 lockdown, and cannot replicate same enthusiasm during such a trying period, As stated earlier, the inactions of the majority of these religious institutions have placed a question mark on the credibility of our religious institutions as pillars of the society and begs the question if indeed they provide the spiritual succour that the people need or are just regular business outfit. In the case of latter, the heavily opposed Company and Allied Matters Act 2020, which sets out to control the leadership and financial structure of the non-governmental and religious organizations, in my opinion, is a welcome development. 

I have begun to review the membership of the church I attend and advise my peers to do the same if their case is similar to mine. At the moment I have a protest to return to and a country to save. I have to part ways with my pen at this point with my favourite farewell slang, WE MOVE!!!

This opinion story has been published on CAMPUS REPORTER with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author. CAMPUS REPORTER does not bear any responsibility for the contents of this story, all views belong to the author.

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