Religious polarisation can almost be said to be synonymous to the Nigerian experience. Allegiance to one’s religion is one of the first things the greatest majority of Nigerian families teach their children.
From the recent decision of the Kano State Government, via the Hisbah Board, to ban the use of the word ‘Black’ to describe Friday because “Friday is considered holy in Islam,” to the outrage from Kaduna residents following the decision of the state government directing all Friday mosques to cease congregating in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a pattern that shows how much regard Nigerians have for their religion.
It is completely understandable therefore that outrage followed the decision of Nassarawa Broadcasting Service (NBS) to put restrictions on when Christmas Carols can begin airing on Radio and TV stations in the North Central state.
The directive was given by the General manager of NBC, Barrister Yusuf Musa in a notice issued to the station’s duty continuity announcers in Lafia, Nassarawa State.
The notice warned the staff not to play any Christmas songs until the 15th of December 2020.
In a tweet decrying the continued mistreatment of the Christian population in Nassarawa, @solomonapanja drew a parallel with how Islamic tunes will air from the beginning of Ramadan to its end.
Nassarawa State is a small state located in North-Central region of the country with a population of just over 2 million. It is largely believed to be evenly divided along the lines of the two major religions in the country, with a sizeable minority that practices traditional religion. Baptist Press reports that the Muslim population is just over 32% of the population, while the Christian population can be as high as 65%.
In relation to the constitutional provision in Section 38 Subsection 1 which grants citizens the right to ”freedom of thought, conscience and religion, an argument by number shouldn’t be needed to challenge the apparent double standard deployed by the Nassarawa Broadcasting Service.
It is not yet clear why playing Christmas Carols throughout December is unacceptable to the General Manager of Nassarawa Broadcasting Service, but whatever the reason might be it cannot trump the clear provisions of the constitution.