Sectarianization of our State


Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues




October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007



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The Slippery Slope of the Sectarianization of our State




‘Bolaji Aluko


Wednesday, February 5, 2003




Fellow Nigerians, this is absolutely getting ridiculous!  Are we headed for Beirut or what?


In November 2002, the Miss World pageant date got moved by one week to December 7, 2002 because of a Islamic religious celebration of Ramadan.  Still yet, there was a riot which led to the fatwa-ing of Citizen Isioma Daniels (who is still hiding out in some strange Western country), the deaths of hundreds in Kaduna and Abuja, and the moving of the pageant from Abuja to London to avert further riots.

Okay, I read just today February 4 that some important premier information technology (IT) conference (tagged “e-Nigeria”) that some colleagues of mine were looking forward to attending, and that was being organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA),  is now peremptorily postponed:  


"In the spirit of the celebration of Eid-El-Kabir week of February 10 – 14, 2003, with our Muslim friends, who are also stakeholders in the nation's Information technology (IT) industry, we are constrained to postpone e-Nigeria to March 10 - 12, 2003."


Who constrained who? 

Notice also that the original e-Nigeria date is just five or six days away o!   So what was NITDA waiting for all of this time?  What about those who had planned to come from abroad, and had bought tickets?

Finally, to top everything and take absurdity to the limit, we just learnt also today ANPP presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, fighting an allegation that he once said that Muslims should vote only for Muslims, now asks, methinks cynically,  that INEC should move the April 19  presidential election date because:


"It has just been brought to our notice by our teeming Christian supporters that 19th April, 2003, the polling day for the presidential and gubernatorial elections, falls within the Christian Holy week. 18th April is Good Friday, 20th and 21st April are Easter Sunday and Easter Monday respectively. Christians may feel uneasy with the polling day as April 19th falls within the week," Buhari said. “….Nigerians are keen on exercising their voting rights and nothing should be done to discourage them from doing so," he cautioned.


Right, “teeming Christian supporters” indeed!  “Teeming”, a word invariably used  together with “supporters” only in Nigeria!

But imagine the typically timid reaction of one of the INEC officials:


Mr. Okpo told Daily Trust that INEC has weighed all options before fixing the dates of all general elections within "the stipulations and provisions of the constitution and the Electoral Law."

He said the 19th of April was fixed for the presidential and gubernatorial elections to allow for adequate time for two possible run-off elections as well as any possible litigation that may arise from the conduct of the polls.

"As much as the commission is sensitive to the religious sensibilities and affiliations of Nigerians, we have to do everything within the confines of the law.

"As I’m talking to you now, I’m a Christian. But I have to make sacrifices and we all have to make sacrifices in the interest of our nation," the INEC spokesman said.




Uh-uh, I am a Christian too, but heck I protest that I can no longer make any more of these sometimes human sacrifices!   Look, May 29, 2003 is also Christ’s Ascension Day, when we Christians recognize the departure of Jesus from earth after the resurrection. In fact, this celebration day is the earliest observed one in Christianity and is to be observed with worship including prayers and music!

So why should I violate Holy Week for presidential election in Nigeria, then violate Ascension Day again for installing our president?  In fact, practically the ENTIRE month of March is in-season for us Christians,   March 5 – April 19 being the forty days of the Lent season, when we are in penitence, reflection and fasting in order to prepare for Christ's Resurrection and for our Redemption.

Bearing all of this in minds, compatriots, we have got to make a decision in this country:  are we a secular country or not?  Or are we a Muslim country – shifting dates ONLY for Muslims – or not?  Or are we headed for Beirut?

Oya, discuss!

The way we are going, there will be NO DAY that we will be able to do ANYTHING right or wrong in Nigeria.  Just read the calendar below for 2003 and marvel.



So let  us  look at these original dates of INEC:

§         12 April: National Assembly (House and Senate) elections

§         19 April: Presidential and state governors’ elections

§         26 April: Possible run-offs

§         3 May: State assemblies’ elections

§         29 May:   President and other elected officials hand over 

I therefore suggest, in the light of the ecumenical calendar below, and to make Buhari and his “teeming Christian supporters” happy, that we keep the 12 April date, shift ALL of the other election dates by one week (26 April for presidential and guber elections, 3 May for possible run-offs and 10 May for state assemblies) and ensure that the President and other elected officials hand-over on Wednesday May 28 or Saturday May 31, not Thursday 29 (Muslims), not Friday 30.  

I am serious – enough of sacrifices -  as I  rest my case.


Bolaji Aluko

Shaking his head

And scratching it too!





Please ask from your priest or Imam for precise dates o!  Don’t quote me.  The Muslim dates in particular, you should add plus or minus one or two days, because of different lunar sightings in Nigeria, even South and North!

* Begins at sundown the day before this date. 
                    ** Local customs may vary this date.




Mary, Mother of God - Catholic Christian

a celebration of the mother of Jesus


New Year’s Day – Everybody takes this holiday!



Twelfth Night – Christian

Christian observance of the close of Christmastide


6 – March 4  (Monday)

Epiphany – Christian

Christian commemoration of the manifestations of the divine nature of Jesus Christ. The homage of the magi to the infant Jesus is honored by some. For others the Baptism of Jesus is the remembered event. A season of the Christian year from the close of Christmas to the beginning of Lent. 



Baptism of the Lord Jesus – Christian

Christian commemoration of the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus






Presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple (Candlemas) * - Christian

Christian remembrance of the infant Jesus being brought to the temple in Jerusalem. His Godly presence was recognized. Celebrate at worship services.


Muslims throughout the world pray with pilgrims in Makkah



Day of Hajj and Eid al-Adha   - Islam

Muslims throughout the world pray with pilgrims in Makkah to observe Eid al-Adha

Islamic day of animal sacrifice, Feast of the Sacrifice, a four-day observance  in memory of God's sparing of Ismail (Ishmael), Abraham's son. It includes sermons, the giving of presents, and special dinners with friends and relatives. Meat is given to the poor.



MARCH 2003



Four Chaplains Sunday - Christian/Jewish Interfaith

Commemoration of the event in World War II when four Chaplains of Jewish and Christian traditions (Catholic and Protestant) gave their life jackets to others as a troop ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean. 



Shrove Tuesday – Christian

Christian carnival day on the eve of Ash Wednesday which begins Lent, a time of fasting and devotions. Pancakes are often served. It is also known as Fat Tuesday in some places. The day concludes the season of Epiphany.


4 or 5

Al-Hijra (New Year) – Islam

Islamic remembrance of the migration of Muhammad and followers to Medina in 622 c.e. and establishment of first Islamic state. This is the beginning of the Islamic New Year. No specific religious rituals are observed.


5 - April 19

Lent – Christian



Ash Wednesday - Christian

Christian observance to begin the 40 day season of Lent. Ashes are marked on worshippers as a sign of penitence, reflection and fasting in order to prepare  for Christ's Resurrection and for   Redemption



Ashura – Islam

An Islamic optional single day fast recognizing the Creation, Noah's departure from the ark, and the saving of Moses from Pharaoh.



Annunciation of the Lord to Mary * - Christian

Christian celebration of Gabriel announcing to the Virgin Mary the coming birth of Jesus



APRIL 2003



Holy Week  - Christian

Holy Week is the week preceding Easter in which the whole drama of the Christian story is recalled, from Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to his crucifixion on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.



Palm/Passion Sunday – Christian

Christian celebration of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The day begins Holy Week. It is observed by worship celebrations and parades using palm branches.



Lord's Evening Meal - Jehovah's Witness Christian

Jehovah's Witness (Christian) primary annual celebration taking place in the evening.



Maundy Thursday - Christian

Foot Washing (or other washing) remember the Passover



Good Friday – Christian

Christian remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus and related events.



[Lazarus Saturday - Orthodox Christian]

Orthodox Christian celebration of the resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus, celebrated on the eve of Palm Sunday; revealing that Jesus in "the resurrection and life" of all mankind



Easter - Christian Gregorian calendar

The most holy of Christian sacred days. The day commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from his death by crucifixion. Observances include worship services beginning at sunrise, special music, feasting, and parades.



St Mark, Apostle & Evangelist - Anglican Christian



MAY 2003


14 (Wednesday)

Mawlid al Nabi * - Islam

Islamic commemoration of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, in about 570 c.e. Not universally observed. The prophet's teachings are read and religious meetings are held.



Ascension of Christ * - Christian

Christian recognition of the departure of Jesus from earth after the resurrection. It is perhaps the earliest observed celebration in Christianity. It is observed with worship including prayers and music.



JUNE 2003



Pentecost – Christian

Christian observation of the day when the God the Holy Spirit came to the disciples in the forms of tongues of fire and rushing wind. It is a traditional day for baptism and confirmation of new Christians.



Trinity – Christian

Christians honor the belief in one God with a threefold nature.



Corpus Christi - Catholic Christian

Christian (Roman Catholic) celebration in recognition of the Eucharist - the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. The real presence of the body and blood of Jesus is honored.



Blessed Heart of Jesus - Catholic Christian



JULY 2003



St Benedict Day - Catholic Christian

Catholic Christian recognition of the father of the The Benedictine Order. It was the first Order of the Western Church Monastic tradition.



St. James the Great Day – Christian

Christian recognition of the martyrdom of the Apostle James the Great in 44 c.e






Lammas – Christian

Christian first fruits celebration observed by placing bread baked from first harvest on the altar.



Transfiguration of Our Lord * - Christian

Christian commemoration of the experience on Mt Tabor when Jesus' physical appearance became brilliant as his connection with traditional Jewish holy figures became evident to the disciples.



Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Catholic Christian

Christian (Roman Catholic) observation honoring the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken directly to heaven at her death.






Nativity of Mary – Christian

Christian celebration of the role of John in baptizing Jesus. Continues a pre Christian Midsummer's Day celebration. Special interest for Hispanic tradition.



23 or 24

Lailat al Miraj & Israa’– Islam

Islamic observance of Mohammed's night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascension to heaven



Michael and All Angels – Christian






St Francis Day - Catholic Christian

Christian recognition of service to people and appreciation of the natural world, as practiced by St Francis and the Franciscan Monastic Order which he founded. 



Reformation Day - Protestant Christian

Protestant Christian anniversary of their tradition and its emphasis on the place of the Bible and religious freedom. On October 31, 1517 c.e. Martin Luther posted a belief statement on Wittenberg Church door.


First Day of Ramadan – Islam

30 days



Milvian Bridge Day – Christian

Christian day of solemn reflection on the relationship of the spiritual community and the powers of civil government. On Oct 28, 312 c.e., Emperor Constantine prevailed in a battle and proceeded to make Christianity the legal religion of the Roman Empire. 



All Hallows Eve – Christian

Christian celebration combining prayers and merriment involving children and families. It is a prelude to All Saint's Day.






All Saints' Day – Christian

Christian day for honoring saints, known and unknown. A Holy Day of Obligation in the Roman Catholic Church where saints have special formal status. In general, saints are persons with reputation for unusual lives of holiness and devotion to God.



All Souls' Day -  Christian

Christian day of prayers of intercession for the dead. Prayers of the faithful are seen as helping to cleanse the souls for the vision of God in heaven



Quds Day (Laylat al qadr) * - Islam

Islamic Night of Destiny. First revelation of Qur'an to Prophet Mohammed. Observed during the last ten days of Ramadan.  Prayers to Allah for a good destiny



Christ the King  - Christian

Christian celebration of the preeminence of Jesus over all earthly authorities.


25 or 26

Eid al Fitr * - end of  Ramadan – Islam

A 3 day Islamic fast marking the close of Ramadan. It is a festival of thanksgiving to Allah for enjoying the month of Ramadan. It involves wearing finest clothing, saying prayers, and fostering understanding with other religions.


30 – December 24

Advent -  Christian

Christian time of preparation for observing the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent begins on the Sunday nearest November 30 and is the beginning of the Christian worship year.  Advent is observed with the lighting of advent candles, display of wreaths, and special ceremonies. Advent also anticipates the coming again to earth of Jesus Christ. The season continues through December 24.. 






Sundays of Advent continue - Christian



Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary - Catholic Christian

Roman Catholic (Christian) day of celebrating the belief that Mary, mother of Jesus, was preserved from original sin all of her life. A day of obligation and required church attendance.



Feast day - Our Lady of Guadalupe - Catholic Christian

Catholic Christian honoring of a legendary appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531 c.e.



Yule – Christian

A Christian celebration of the light dawning in Jesus.



Christmas (Nativity of Our Lord) * - Christian

A season of the Christian year following Advent and preceding Epiphany.



Christmas Eve - Christian

Christian celebration of the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem for for the birth of Jesus. It is observed with worship, candle lighting, manger scenes and festive meals.


25 (Thursday)

Christmas Day  - Christian

Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Observed by prayers, exchanging of gifts, and family parties.



Boxing Day



Holy Innocents - Anglican Christian

Christian day of solemn memory of male children killed by King Herod in the attempt to destroy Jesus


Holy Family - Catholic Christian

Catholic Christian celebration of the love between the family of Jesus.




Mid-Week Essay: Religious (In)Tolerance and the National Question

Mobolaji Aluko,

December 25, 2002

e-Nigeria shifted by one month

The Guardian, February 4, 2003


Buhari wants elections rescheduled

Daily Trust

February 4, 2003


Major religious holidays and celebrations



Interfaith Calendar


Pluralism Project - Religious Calendar



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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.