Practitioners of African Traditional Religion in Nigeria have kicked against their exclusion from the proposed national conference and asked the Federal Government to give them three slots.
Among the popular adherents of the faith are a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Prof. Wande Abimbola and national coordinator of Oodua Peoples Congress, Otunba Gani Adams.
The President of International Council for Ifa (African) Religion and Dean,School of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Federal University of Technology, Akure, Prof. Idowu Odeyemi, at a press briefing on Sunday in Abuja said ancestors would not be happy with Nigerians if they are exempted from the conference.
Prof. Odeyemi said that the “forefathers are being demonized, “satanised” and cast into the dustbin of history by their own children as irrelevant to the issues of the day, in preference to the forefathers of other races. Our forefathers, guided by African Religion and spirituality, built the Egyptian, Zimbabwean, Edo, Oyo, Ashanti and other great African civilizations upon which the very fabric of our Blackness is built today,” he said.
The group insisted that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes the existence of three major religions in Nigeria, (African Traditional Religion, Islam and Christianity), adding that the composition of participants at the proposed National Conference, “consciously and studiously seeks to ignore the pivotal provisions of that constitution. This is UNACCEPTABLE.”
It said that the norm in the past had been a tendency to accept Traditional Rulers who were in pre-colonial days the true representatives and protectors of African Traditional Religion but noted that today, many of these Traditional Rulers have abandoned African Traditional Religions in favour of Muslim and Christian Religions.
“Our religion is therefore not ready to accept that we should be represented by Traditional Rulers. In any case, Traditional Rulers have been SEPARATELY allocated slots as a stakeholder group at the conference.
“Ignoring African Traditional Religion now or ever, will come back to haunt our country Nigeria for several decades to come,” he said.