An image suggesting the over-religious nature of Nigerians.

Nigeria is 98% religious, while Norway is 73% irreligious yet Nigeria has deteriorated in contrast to Norway. 

Nigeria houses some of the world’s largest Christian and Muslim populations, while Norway has a large non-religious population. Religion is said to make people good and things better; why, though, does the evidence not support the claim in Nigeria?

As much as Nigeria is home to a large religious population, it is also the abode of some of the most corrupt individuals the world has ever seen. A contradiction in terms, if it must be said.

What about the derelict state of the country fostered by people who claim to be religious? Who also claim to believe in a God that is just and good? Then there’s Norway, a non-religious country, thriving greatly with more honest and transparent citizens. If religion is a criterion for morality and national prosperity, then why has Norway prospered so much? Does that mean that Nigeria has been abandoned by God? In this article, we will explore Nigeria’s attachment to religion; how the said religion has deteriorated the country in contrast to Norway’s multifaceted advancements.

Are not religious people to be blessed?

When the Christian Bible says, “Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

What comes to mind is a picture of church-going Nigerians who live in abject poverty. They are never filled with either the physical or spiritual advantages of life. Religion permeates every aspect of Nigerian life. You will see a large number of Nigerians from different walks of life publicly and unapologetically demonstrating their religiosity. Yet according to the Brookings Institution, Nigeria has surpassed India as the country with the largest number of poor people. In Nigeria, about 43% of Nigerians, which amounts to 89 million people, live below the poverty line. While another 25%—that is, 53 million people—are vulnerable. Still, if not all, of these individuals practice one of the two borrowed Abrahamic religions dominant in the country—Christianity and Islam. Belief in the indigenous belief system is less than a generation away from extinction.

To be successful in politics, professing one’s submission to either of the Abrahamic duopolies is contingent.

From the helm of affairs in the country to the common on the streets, public display of adherence to either deity of the Abrahamic duopoly has become commonplace. The question is thus begged: if the dogma of the duopoly of Abrahamic religions infers morality, why is immorality so prevalent in Nigeria? An irony, would you agree?

This is where Norway comes in; it is irreligious in its own rights. With laws based on secularism, it has experienced growth and prosperity. If the tenets of Nigeria’s Abrahamic duopoly (Christianity and Islam) were to be translated verbatim, the growth ought to go to Nigeria and those countries that believe in the existence of God or Allah instead. Norway’s economy, political climate, social development, and infrastructure, among others, stand out. It is a beacon of freedom, human rights, and stability, with some of the highest incomes in the world.

You can’t help but wonder: Is religion relevant to national growth and development? Norway’s GDP gross stands at $502 billion, while Nigeria’s stands at $506 billion. Bear in mind that Norway has a population forty times smaller than Nigeria’s yet has comparable GDPs to Nigeria. On the per capita category, the difference could not be clearer; Norway was at $92,600 against Nigeria’s $2,300, which is forty times higher and outrageously unacceptable. We are again sent back to the foundation of this article: is Nigeria forsaken by God, or is it not properly following the tenets of its religious books? It has got to be either; otherwise, a case for questioning the religion and its dogma is unavoidable.

A Comparison of Doctrines: Why Does Irreligious Norway Fare Better?

The religious books profess blessings upon people who seek to worship the one true God, but it becomes a thing of concern when these blessings refract from the people who are the most religious.

According to Gallup International, Nigeria is the world’s second-most religious country; daily, hourly, and almost the entirety of Nigerians call on the God that they serve to bless them, but there seems to be no response.

The Bible, for instance, records in many verses that the needs of those who serve God will always be taken care of, that “God will generously provide all [their] needs. Then [they] will always have everything they need, with plenty left over to share with others.” The Quran equally records the provision of Allah for His believers, recording that He found [them] orphans and gave [them] refuge, and He found [them] lost and guided [them]. And he found them poor and made them self-sufficient.

Both God and Allah make promises of provision and sustenance to their followers in their various religious books, but when put in the context of Nigeria, these promises lack evidence and, in translatable, practical, workable reality, do not ring true. A lot of Nigerians barely have enough to eat and are abandoned. Many others are homeless and hopeless. Again, a seismic contradiction of dogmatic catastrophe. For if one says that one believes in a being who is supreme and who makes outrageous promises, should not one’s needs be met completely?

Norway, in contrast, has no official religion and thus upholds no religious doctrines as a country. Instead, they uphold the ‘doctrine’ of the law. The Norwegian government put laws in place that facilitate the proper running of the country. But it is not just about putting laws in place; what is most important is that these laws are enforced and implemented. Deterrence is key; the implementation part is what triggers deterrence. This has produced more law-abiding citizens than we find in Nigeria. Norway’s law enforcement services are provided by the country’s single national police force called “Politi”, which is part of the Ministry of Justice and Police. With a strength of more than 16,000 men and women for a population of just over 5 million, the force adequately exercises its activities in its 12 police districts. However, in Nigeria, the police force is filled by corrupt individuals who are unable to carry out their duties. They would rather wait for God to intervene in a riotous situation than step in to do their jobs. Norway continues to fare better in diverse areas because it takes the actions needed to make the country better, albeit majorly atheistic or irreligious.

There are intentional efforts put towards nation-building and development and towards the implementation of policies that are not perceptible in Nigeria. Why? Because people would rather hide under the umbrella of religion than do the right things, sadly. In truth, the practice of religion in Nigeria is systemically faulty; it has been unsuccessful in impacting positively on many areas, including the government. The Bible says, “Righteousness exalts a nation”, and that “when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” But again, these biblical blessings have eluded Nigeria. The fact is that neither Nigeria nor its leaders are righteous. Instead, there is so much oppression, injustice, corruption, and abuse of power in the country. One can question the veracity of the religious beliefs proclaimed by those at the helm of power in Nigeria. This is because if they truly believed in a hell, they would not be looting from the national coffers, inflicting generations of Nigerians into lifetimes of poverty. Hell ought to wait for them, but no, they don’t care. Do they really believe in the punishment of hell as mutually dogmatized by their Abrahamic duopoly?

In conclusion,

At this point, I ask you, my reader, to consider this current discourse. The goal is neither to bash religion or belief in God nor to encourage irreligiosity. Rather, it is to question why an irreligious country like Norway prospers more than a religious one and to understand if a country’s interest in religion makes a difference in the nation’s development, progression, or even sustainability. In everything, there should be moderation, and until Nigeria and Nigerians understand that more effort should be put into the growth of the nation at different strata, the country may not reach prosperity whether it believes in God or not.

By Anastacia Onyinyechi Azuma 


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