Religions in Nigeria

  • Terwase Gabriel Ngbea Department of Christian Religious Studies, Federal University of Lafia
Keywords: ATR, Christianity, islam, Religion, The Nigerian State


Discussions on religion in Nigeria always begin with references to the history of
Christian-Muslim relations. In recent decades, religion has become an important
factor, both in public debate and as a means of political mobilization. As a multiethnic
and multi-religious country, Nigeria is a pluralistic society with African
Traditional Religion, Christianity and Islam as its three main religions. She is
among the most religious countries in the world. Officially, Nigeria is a secular
state with freedom of religion guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution. Nigeria seeks
to maintain some forms of neutrality on religious matters, but religion continues to
cast an ominous shadow on the governance of the country. This paper examines the
undue romance between the Nigerian state and Religion which has caused more
harm than good. Among others, the paper recommends that there is urgent need
for the Nigerian government to maintain a neutral posture with regard to all
religions in Nigeria. The methodology adapted in this paper is historical and
phenomenological, with data collected from secondary sources and analysed


Awolowo, O., Path to Nigerian Freedom. London: Faber and Faber, 1947.
Bauna, P. T. The Christian Association of Nigeria and the Challenge of the
Ecumenical Imperative. Rome: Domenici pechenx,1991.
Chukwuma, M., Nigerian Politics and Religion. Doctoral Thesis, Faculty of
Philosophy, Rheinischen Friedrich Wilhems Universitatzu Born, 1985.
Dlakwa, H., “Ethnicity in Nigerian Politics: Formation of Political Organizations
and Parties” in Okafor, F. U. (Ed) New Strategies for Curbing Ethnic and
Religious Conflicts in Nigeria. Enugu: Forth Dimension publishers, 1997.
Enwerem, I. M., A Dangerous Awakening: the Politicization of Religion in Nigeria.
Ibadan: French Institute for Research in Africa, 1995.
Ekpu, R., “Opium of the People” in Newswatch Magazine of October 1985. Lagos:
Newswatch Communications Ltd, 1985.
Falana, F., “Religion and Security: A legal Perspective” in The Nation Newspaper.
Hugh, C. “Nigeria: Background to Nationalism” in Coleman. Los Angeles:
University of California press, 1953.
Ibrahim, J. (1991). “Religion and political Turbulence in Nigeria”. Journal of
modern African studies 29, no.1, pp. 115-136, 32-37.
Kalu, O. A., Religions in Nigeria: An overview in Atanda, J. A. et’al. (Eds.) Nigeria
Since Independence: The First Twenty-Five Years. Vol. XI. Ibadan:
Heinemann publishes, 1989.
Mbiti, J. S., Introduction to African Religion. London: Heinemann Educational
Books Ltd, 1978.
Olakanmi, & Co., The Nigerian Constitutions 1963, 1979, 1999. Abuja: Lawlords
Publications 2008.
Omotola, J. S., Secularism and the Politics of Religious Balancing in Nigeria.
Retrieved from
pload/pdf/culturalpluralism/religion/essayomotola.pdf. On 27/02/18.
Onaiyekan, J., Religion in Nigeria: A Test Opening Plenary Session of the 10th
Anniversary of Rhodes Forum on October 4, 2012. Retrieved from
Onaiyekan, J., Seeking Common Grounds, Inter-religious Dialogue in Africa.
Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2013.
Oyedepo, D. O., Releasing the Supernatural. Ikeja: Dominion Publishing House,
Rimamsikwe, H.K. & Achunike, H.C. “Religion in Nigeria from 1900-2013” in
Journals of Research on Humanities and Social Sciences Vol. 3 No. 18. 2013. Retrieved from view
Salisu, A. M., Constitutional Reform in Nigeria: Issues, Perspectives, Challenges
and Opportunities. Nigeria: publications NG, 2013.
Udobata, O., Religion and Society: Issues and Trends in National Development in
21st Century. Unpublished text of the Lead Paper presented at Nsukka on 6th
Nov. 2012 on the occasion of Home-coming of the Alumni and Alumnae of
the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, 2012