Inspite of the religious was of the people of Delta State, the question of the role of religion in the politics of Delta State still stand as a major challenge to religious scholars. This essay in its bid to unravel the role of religion in the society, outrightly dwelt on the impart of religion in politics. In this research, different methods ranging from interviews with political stakeholders and clergies, personal observations, journals, newspapers and other related material to the topic were used. Though the work is limited to Delta State, it findings could be applicable to the entire southern part of Nigeria particularly the areas dominated by Christianity and African Traditional Practices. While the first chapter of this essay dealt with the method, scope and significance of the study, the second chapter dealt the views of different authors. It also defined the concept of politics and the different religious practices among the different ethnic groups in Delta State. Chapter three dwelt on the role of religious leaders and traditional rulers in mobilizing the youth in the political system while chapter four largely dwelt on the relationship between the church and the state and also on the role of the church in combating the moral laxity in the political system today. It also talks extensively on the role of religion in the electoral system in Delta State. Finally, it was concluded that the role of religion in politics is not limited to institutions like the churches and government rather it cut across the individuals such as the traditional rulers, the priests, the youth and the elders who forms the religious congregation and the political actors who are at the center of the political sphere.
Cultural values and moral integrity are social indicators that guarantees the general acceptance of individual within the society. The control of the government machinery is entrusted to a few individuals, however, the fear of changeable and unreliable nature of man often introduce religious beliefs into the political sphere.1 This is due to the view that belief is a component of moral behavior and at such our beliefs affects our conducts.2 This fact clearly explains why there is hardly any political office holder today, that does not profess religion. Inspite of the difference which exist between religion and politics which presupposes that religion deals with the realm of conviction and ultimate reality, a view in life sees good and calls it into reality while politics is seen as a realm of compromise in which ultimate purposes clash, interest competes and conflicting claims are adjusted by a process of give and take;3 the ethical views and realities which coexist side by side within our society weave religion deeply into politics particularly in the search for moral integrity in the political domain.
- BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Religion is an integral part of every society. In recent times, religious activities have been more deeply woven into the fabrics of partisan politics to the extent that religious participation correlates with politics in Delta State. That is, it is difficult to be successful in the political environment without proper alignment with a religious organization within the state.
Throughout the history of Nigeria’s political and social development, civil organizations have always looked up to religious institutions for inspirational leadership. Hence, it is undoubted that religion still have powerful influence in the structuring of the political culture and some policies of the government in Nigeria.4 It is against this background that this essay will be examining the role of religion in the politics of Delta State. Consequently, this research will mainly expose the religio-political affiliations in the daily administration of Delta State, the role of religious institutions in the electoral practices of Delta State as well as the influence of religion on the policies of Delta State.
- AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This research is primarily aimed at revealing the impact of religious institutions in the politics and the civil administration of Delta State. It also aims at considering the relevance of churches to the government and as well examine the role of religious institutions in the moral upliftment of the state even in the face of the moral decadence prevalent in our political system. This research also aim at creating awareness on the need to respect the religious diversity, reject the prejudice against religious and political affiliation and accept the necessity for peaceful coexistence and social cohabitation in Delta State.
Therefore, at the end of this research, we should have more knowledge in the following aspects:
- The influence of religion in the policies and decision making in Delta State.
- The role of religion in the electoral practices that is, in political campaigns and the daily administration of Delta State.
- The position of religious institutions in the crusade against moral decay in Nigeria at large.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is to emphasize the importance of religion in the life of political actors in Delta. The importance of religion in the politics of Delta State whether it be domestic party politics or inter-state relations, cannot be underestimated. It is generally believed among the people that religion is the life energy and at such, tradition can best be explained by the politics of representation.
Unarguably, religion plays a good role in the progress, development, peace and co-existence in the affairs of every government. The government of Delta State has for long initiated religious programmes which are believed to contribute to the unity progress and the development of the state. The government often emphasize the importance of religion in the daily administration of the state. Hence the daily morning prayers of the government house chapel, a long standing tradition in Delta State.5
Consequently, the significance of this work is to establish the fact that religion stands at the centre of governmental institutions not only in Delta State, but in the entire country. It will also establish the fact that religion wield a lot of influence in the policies and decisions of the government.
Thus, religion is greatly implicated in the shaping and structuring of the socio-political-environment. It could be understood in terms of power relations.
- SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The research was carried out in the vicinity of Delta State. However, due to the constraints of time and finance, two local government areas of Delta State including Ughelli North and Oshimili North shall be the research areas for this work. This work will also cover extensively the various religious practices in this political province. This research will also be limited to the influence of religion in the political practices and in the daily administration of this province.
- RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This research will involve different methods in obtaining detailed information about the structure of religion and politics in Delta State. Primarily, previous works done by scholars on the political and religions affiliations of Delta State and some other areas of common interest will serve as source of information for this research. Therefore, the various libraries in these two chosen local government areas will be primary source of information. The University of Benin Library will also be used as a major base for the acquisition of information. Newspaper publications on religions and politics as well as the use of the internet search machines will also be employed to ensure the success of this research. Also, interviews will be conducted among the people particularly among the clergymen and politicians in Delta State so as to acquire first hand information from stakeholders who are vast in the area of religion and politics within Delta State.
- LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The wide geographical area covered by this research extending to the whole of Delta State seem to be one of the challenges to this work. Out of the 27 local government areas, only two could be effectively used due to financial constraint.
Secondly, the lack of cooperation, particularly from the political class, who always claim to be very busy also stand as a limitation to this research. However, from the co-operation of a few within Delta State the research was a great success.