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CONSTITUTIONAL MISCONCEPTION OF SECULARISM AND IMPLICATIONS FOR POLITICS AND RELIGION IN NIGERIA

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Abstract

The evidence before us in this 21st century is pervasive and clear, that religion still exists and remains surprisingly vibrant and socially relevant. This is particularly true in Nigeria and in most of the rest of the world as well. As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, Nigeria is a pluralistic society. Constitutionally and in principle, Nigeria is a secular state that promotes freedom of worship, but the situation on ground is contrary to the expectation of the constitution. Successive Nigerian governments have at different times fallen into traps of getting involved in religious affairs. The study explores the constitutional adoption of secularism as a religious balancing device in Nigeria in other to pave way for mutual co-existence of the major religions and tribes in Nigeria, and to examine the pervasive politicization of religion in modern Nigeria. The study adopted ex-post-design in generating data for this study from documentary evidence using secondary sources method, and the data was analyzed using descriptive method. The work established the need to curtail the negative threats that religion poses to nation building and inform the constitutional adoption of secularism. The study recommended the need for the Nigerian government to ensure the supremacy of the constitution and to separate religion from politics. The study finally draws its conclusion that, it is possible for Nigeria to develop its form of secularism that can promote neutrality and freedom of worship in consideration of the pluralistic nature of the Nigerian society.