The Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr Mathew Kukah, has advised politicians to exercise restraint in their involvement in religion because it can ignite passion.
Kukah stated this in his keynote address at the 61st Annual General Conference of the Nigeria Bar Association in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Monday.
While decrying the spate of insecurity in the country, with specified reverence to Boko Haram and banditry, Kukah said the situation could have been avoided if things were done differently.
He said, “Our politicians must be careful and more circumspect. If we are going to take a lesson away from Boko Haram, banditry and from where we find ourselves now, it is that there is an urgent need for politicians to become more restrained in their involvement with religion.
“This is because religious identity remains a very troubling identity; it can ignite passion. We need to get ourselves to a point at which religion doesn’t just become a weapon, a stick for flogging one another. Where we are now could have been avoided.”
He said central to the lingering problems of the country was the quality of its constitution and its ability or otherwise to inspire the commitment of every citizen.
“I don’t know any other country in the world that has reviewed its constitution over and over again to the point that the exercise itself merely generates division among Nigerians.
“It does seem to me that our unresolved problems are directly tied to the quality of our constitution, its ability or inability to inspire the confidence, commitment of ordinary citizens.
“I have found out that in the debate about the Nigerian constitution, a lot of issues have continued to recur. And I had the privilege of serving under Justice Niki Toby in one of the attempts at reviewing the constitution.
“What I have found with no intention to disrespect anybody is the problem of the quality of people that have been sent overtime to review the constitution.
“An event so important, just like everything else in Nigeria, becomes an opportunity to distribute favours because governors and the president are those saddled with the responsibility of choosing those who are going to represent their communities,” he said.
The bishop of Sokoto said the country was making progress, urging the citizens to dedicate themselves to making Nigeria work.
“We must stay, fight and resolve all the issues because Nigeria is like a Catholic marriage; it may not be happy, but it won’t break up,” Kukah said.