RELIGION IN NIGERIA

Bayo Ajibola

RELIGION IN NIGERIA .There exist several religions in Nigeria, helping to accentuate regional and ethnic distinctions. All religions represented in Nigeria were practiced in every major city in 1990. However, Islam dominated the north and had a number of supporters in the South Western, Yoruba part of the country. Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa. Protestantism and local syncretic Christianity are also in evidence in Yoruba areas, while Catholicism dominates the Igbo and closely related areas. Both Protestantism and Catholicism dominated in the Ibibio, Annang, and the Efik kiosa lands.

The 1963 census although controversial, indicated that 47 percent of Nigerians were Muslim, 35 percent Christian, and 18 percent members of local indigenous congregations. If accurate, this indicated a sharp increase since 1953 in the number of Christians (up 13 percent); a slight decline among those professing indigenous beliefs, compared with 20 percent; and only a modest (4 percent) rise of Muslims.
There are many types of Muslims, but the majority of Nigerian Muslims are Sunni, most of whom are Maliki, Shafi’i or Salafi. But a significant Shia and Sufi minority exists. Most Sufis follow the Qadiriyya, Tijaniyyah and/or the Mouride movement. Some Muslims have incorporated radical and takfiri ideals, in particular the Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Lands. Some northern states have incorporated Sharia law into their previously secular legal systems, which has brought about some controversy. Kano State has sought to incorporate Sharia law into its constitution. Themajority of Quranists follow the Kalo Kato or Quraniyyun movement. There are also Ahmadiyya and Mahdiyya minorities.

From the 1990s to the 2000s, there has been significant growth in Protestant Churches including the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Winners’ Chapel, Christ Apostolic Church (the first Aladura Movement in Nigeria), Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Evangelical Church of West Africa, Mountain of Fire and Miracles, Christ Embassy, The Synagogue Church Of All Nations, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Aladura Church, indigenous Christian churches especially strong in the Yoruba and Igbo areas, and of evangelical churches in general. These churches have spilled over into adjacent and southern areas of the middle belt. Denominations like the Seventh-day Adventist and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have also flourished. According to a 2001’s report of The World Factbook by CIA, about 50% of Nigeria’s population is Muslim, 40% are Christians and 10% adhere to local religions.

But in some recent report, the Christian population is now sightly larger than the Muslim population. A 18 December 2012report on religion and public life by the Pew Research Center stated that in 2010, 49.3 percent of Nigeria’s population was Christian, 48.8 percent was Muslim, and 1.9 percent were followers of indigenous and other religions, or unaffiliated. While the 2010’s census of Association of Religion Data Archives has also reported that 46.5 percent of the total population is Christian, slighetly bigger than the Muslim population with 45.5 percent, and 7.7 percent are members of other religious groups.

In addition, according to the 2011 report of Regional Distribution of Christians by Pew Research Center, the Christian population in Nigeria was increased to 50.8% and Muslim population in Nigeria remains 48.8%. But it also preddicted by 2030, Nigeria is expected to have a slight Muslim majority (51.5%).
Among Christians, 24.8% are Catholic, 74.1% are Protestant, 0.9% belong to other Christian denominations and a few of them are Orthodox Christians. In terms of Nigeria’s major ethnic groups religious affiliations, the Hausa ethnic group in the North is 95% Muslims and 5% Christians, the West which is the Yoruba tribe is 35% Christians and 55% Muslim with 10% going to adherents of other African religions while the Igbos in the East and the Ijaw in the South are 98% Christians (Catholics) and 2% practice traditional religions. The middle belt of Nigeria contains the largest number of minority ethnic groups in Nigeria and they are mostly Christians and members of traditional religions with few Muslim converts.

Other leading Protestant churches in the country are the Church of Nigeria, of the Anglican communion, Assemblies of God Church, Nigeria, the Nigerian Baptist Convention and The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations. The Yoruba areacontains a large Anglican population, while Igboland is predominantly Catholic and the Edo area is predominantly Assemblies of God which was introduced into Nigeria by Augustus Ehurie Wogu and his associates at Old Umuahia.


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