When I was younger, age 14 or 15. I told my mother I wanted to start wearing knee-length hijab and socks. She looked at me bemused and then asked me why. I told her people who are dressed like that are more decent and I want to be more decent than the decent I have been. She asked ‘is that all?’ I answered yes and she laughed. A vert short laugh before she firmly said NO. Why mother? I asked. She said majority of those parading in the garment are not as decent as I thought they were and then went on to ask ‘So you think they are better than you because you cover your hair with a scarf? Do you walk around naked?’ We went back and forth with that for a while before I finally understood the difference between what I wanted and what I admired.

My case is not peculiar. We Nigerians lay too much emphasis on how religion appears rather than it practice. We are quick to see those who portray a religious attitude as holy, the high and mighty in religious affairs even if they are nowhere perfect.

Our Imams and pastors tell us we would burn and perish in hell if we commit sexual sin but they blatantly commit adultery with those who worship with them. You see religious leaders who have formed sects brainwashing family men, making them abandon their families in the evening to sit down and listen to lopsided lectures on how to handle their children and wives. How can a single method work with dozens of women and children? And you have the religious leader and his jaunty self living fine with his wife/wives while his members serve their wives divorce letters, withhold things of comfort, reduce money they give their wives, stop showing care and love because their religious leader said showing love makes you weak. Their religious leader said if your wife doesn’t tumble and roll on the floor to greet you, she’s not a good wife.

Imams during friday sermons will give sermons with messages on how we shouldn’t take what doesn’t belong to us, speak the truth always and never support the oppression of poor people. It is the same Imams who would willingly organize prayers for corrupt leaders who are being probed by the government for money laundering.

Pastors will preach non-stop about being faithful to one’s wife, resisting temptations from Jezebels, demons with breasts, silky skin and big derriere. It is the same pastor who would dip hand into the offering box to pay call girls!

People will do despicable things to make money and boldly go up on the altar, the podium and tell the congregation ‘God did it.’ And our religious leader will cheer even though the the truth is glaring. They don’t care, all they care about is to ask for more donation to enlarge, beautify and maintain the house of God. And then we would be asked to pray. Pray that Chief Jebudaya continues to excel in whatever he does!

Religion for a long time has been that chain with a strong hold on Nigerians. It gets stronger as the years go by, lubricated and polished by priests and mallams to prevent it from rusting. Those who dare ask questions are threatened with quotes from holybooks, verses manipulated to suit their greed and selfishness.

Fight for your God you said. Defend your religion you said. Isn’t my God the most powerful? Why should a mere mortal take up God’s battle? God wouldn’t want that. God can fight His own battles – Abdulazeez Kaothar

And we have refused to help ourselves because we are always backing everything we say with ‘my pastor said this, my Imam said that.’ We do not understand the concept of spirituality before swallowing everything religion forces down our throats.

Hypocrisy of religion has silenced the voices of many truth tellers; ghana-must go bags collected in the middle of the night have our religious leader discouraging us from protesting against bad leadership and why we should be meek in the face of injustice according to prophet so so and so.

It has made the younger generation live in perpetual fear of fire and brimstone, thunder sent by God, damnation if they stray from a particular part. It is molding them into dolls living in a plastic box. They can’t forge their own part because it is already rigidly set for them. They accept everything they are told because ‘it is in the Bible, it is in the Qur’an, if you don’t believe it, you will perish!.’ They are told lying is a sin by the Imam and their parents but they are perplexed when their mother lies to their father and their father returns the favour.

Nigerians have hidden under the cloak of pretense and religious garments to commit sacrilegious acts. We have people dressed in burqa commiting adultery, we have staunch church goers poisoning someone they have issues with. Many at times, people who put up their pious acts on display are venomous green snakes slithering under green grass.

Self-righteous people are worse than devil. Not only do they make you seem inadequate as a person but it is all for a show. They will pull the carpet from under your feet and you wouldn’t notice until you are lying on the cold, hard floor with a bruised arm and a wounded ego.

Never ever get deceived with every righteous acts and behaviour. You know yourself best. You know your God better. Serve him in the best way you can. My grandmother used to say ‘God alone knows those who truly worships him.’

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