Religion, Politics and the Growing Poverty Subculture, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú – Premium Times Opinion


…can religious sensibilities clarify our thinking about poverty when Muslim and Christian clerics have taken control of the minds and pockets of Nigerians? No! Nigerians are fighting the fires of disease, insecurity, hunger and early death due to widespread and escalating poverty, propelled by the lack of vision and greed.

Religion in Nigeria and indeed the African continent has united those who want political power and a life of luxury. It has been appropriated as a tool for accumulating wealth, fame and politically balancing fear. By preaching the gospel to the Christians and radicalism to the Muslims, the pastorpreneurs and mullahs have hoodwinked people into believing, instead of knowing and wanting what is unknown, instead of what is known. According to the World Bank, Nigeria has one of the world’s highest economic growth rates, averaging 7.4 percent and poverty rate at 33.1 percent. In addition, Nigeria ranks high as a favourite destination for religious tourism in the world. These statistics are dubious distinctions. They are no good.

Oscar Lewis, in his landmark study on the poverty subculture, wrote that, “People with a culture of poverty have very little sense of history. They are a marginal people who know only their own troubles, their own local conditions, their own neighbourhood, their own way of life.” While not absolving the poor of certain attitudes that promote generational poverty, the Nigerian enterprise grooms poverty for a harder bite on its citizens because it fails at every turn to provide the structures for decent existence as human beings. Furthermore, the political elite seeks to obliterate the people’s sense of history and civic responsibility. More than ever before and for the reasons mentioned aboved, the cycle of poverty in Nigeria continues to widen. A third of the population is mirred in extreme poverty, sustained by a conjunction of political and religious circumstances that is totally orchestrated. An orchestration…

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