The Oasis Reporters
March 29, 2021
By Dan Haliru
I think there are issues that need to be addressed in this hijab controversy that is boiling over in the North Central state of Kwara.
First, the faith based schools should be allowed to establish and enforce their dress codes. They should be given the choice to offer or not offer religious instructions of other faiths apart from theirs.
Thirdly, the take over agreement signed by the military government should be revisited to give the faith based organisations the option of either accepting full take over by government or a franchise whereby the proprietors will adopt government approved curriculum and register their students and pupils for government recognised examinations, while they receive grants from government to meet their obligations.
What’s happening right now in Kwara State is like a forced Islamisation of public education.
The Christian and Muslim owned schools should be allowed to coexist with the public schools established by the government. If individuals are allowed to establish schools,
I wonder why Faith based groups should be denied that right.
I believe the so called take over of missionary schools was done due to non availability of public schools at that time and the need to ensure equal access for both Christians and Muslims because there was so much suspicion then that Muslim children would be converted to Christianity by the Mission schools. But the situation has changed dramatically.
That law in Kwara has outlived its usefulness, and needs to be abrogated. With regard to marginalization of Christians in Kwara State, I think its being overblown.
Every state in Nigeria has similar features depending on which religion or tribe the majority of the population belong to.
We have indigenous Christians in my home state of Katsina, north west Nigeria, but one hardly hears about them because they constitute less than 5% of the population – scattered across 4 LGAs out of 34.
But we live peacefully with them. They are represented in government and public service. They have their churches and their kids attend the same schools with our kids except that nobody forces their female children to wear the hijab. Kano too has similar experience.
I don’t know why Kwara State is a different kettle of fish. The religious activism and fight for supremacy may be as a consequence of its history as a melting pot of Muslims from different tribal backgrounds on one hand, and a vassal state of the former Oyo Empire to which the Yoruba people claim rightful ownership.
Every Christian group wants to be in Kwara to help liberate the Yoruba that have been brought under Caliphal authority.
Every Muslim group is in Kwara to protect that legacy. It’s a historical conundrum that can be resolved through religious tolerance of live and let live. No religion can force itself on everyone in Kwara State. It will never happen!