The hijab brouhaha in Kwara schools

By Christie Doyin
For a while, I thought the issues around the issue of wearing and not wearing hijab will fizzle out and everything will go back to normal, I mean status quo but with the indefinite closure of 10 Christian missionary schools by the state government, it is apt if some of us speak out.
I wonder why the issue is being over flogged and the hands of religion is being played here over and above academics. Don’t know what is going to happen to the students who have lost terms as a result if the Covid-19 pandemic with this closure by government in the state.
To me, Kwara state is not a sole religion state and more importantly, it is pertinent that all those concerned realise that the governor is governing over the Muslim, christian and traditional faithfuls across the state and therefore there is need to tread softly when it comes to religious based matters.
We as citizens of the world know what matters of religion could lead to because we have witnessed religious based acrimonies that have led to serious and devastating aftermath. Without mincing words, it may become such that if decorum and wisdom is not at play, there is tendency that enmity and religious fracas may pop up, which possibly may blow out of proportion. I therefore appeal to the Kwara State government to tread gently and let peace reign.
My take on this is that there is no harm in returning the mission schools to their original owners and hands off anything that has to do with such schools except monitoring to see if standards are maintained. More importantly in this wise is that since there are Muslim mission schools just as there are Christian mission schools. Whoever feels obliged to wear hijab should go to Muslim mission schools and those who feel otherwise should attend Christian mission schools. Then of course, there are government and other neutral schools which will allow both non hijab wearing Christians and hijab wearing Muslims, and of course those in the free world of traditionalists that may also decide to wear it or not.
We know some Muslim schools and higher institutions of learning where all girls, regardless of their faith are compelled to wear hijab. My take is if they cannot comply with what the Muslim schools required, they should opt out. Let’s keep our trust and faith in God aglow and avoid religious crisis.
Honestly, I am very worried at the stance of the state government. The decision to close down certain schools because of hijab is enough to cause disaffection between the hitherto peace embracing religious sets. The most worrisome apart from the closure is when government said the schools remained closed to ensure safety. How? is what I don’t understand. A statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, which also listed the schools to include C&S College Sabo Oke, St. Anthony College, Offa Road, ECWA School, Oja Iya, Surulere Baptist Secondary School, Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam, CAC Secondary School Asa Dam road, St. Barnabas Secondary School Sabo Oke, St. John School Maraba, St. Williams Secondary School Taiwo Isale, and St. James Secondary School Maraba, sated that “This decision has been taken for safety reasons”. I’m bereft of adequate words to describe this!
The statement went further stating that “The government therefore directs schoolchildren and teachers in the affected schools to remain at home until the contrary is announced.
“The government remains committed to fairness, pluralism, and respect for the law and rights of every citizen at all times,” the statement said. Uhmmmmmmm!
How also does one react to these statements by some groups and persons? “Hijab crisis: Kwara is Muslim State, take your missionary schools to Rivers – Islamic group warns”? Or that Ilorin is an Islamic state and could change in the magnanimity towards the other religion.
As much as I respect the rights of every party concerned, I want to say that it is important that all stakeholders should avoid saying or doing anything that could trigger disharmony and violence. I’m scared for the state. Ask those of us that have witnessed some if the religious crises in the country and you will know why we are preaching peace and carefulness.
I’ve read with interest and trepidation comments such as “This is a plain dumb position by the government, being cowed into submission on threat of hooliganism”; “Government cannot impose their decision on missionary schools when the case is still at Supreme court”; “How on earth will principals and teachers being employed and funded by the state government be holding allegiance to a lawless non grata sets of people and thereupon hold the state government by a blackmailed juggernaut like hold?”
There are others like, “I can’t imagine how the state government will react if the Ilorin Emirate decides to revoke the freehold given to the missionaries in all Ilorin lands? Will the government order Everyone to stay at home to avert crisis?” I never knew Kwara belong to a set of people one and that Ilorin formed the whole of Kwara. We learn everyday!
Furthermore, while I know writer of this statement -“This lawlessness, if allowed to fester will likely lead to chaos across the state.” was seeing the matter from another angle, what would one say to the allegation that one of the mission schools, Baptist Primary school, was set ablaze by some Muslim youths because the school refuses use of hijab but for the timely intervention of some security operatives in the area? Whether the allegation that certain culprits were responsible, the fact that if not checked, matters may go out of hand, and only God can help us.
Someone wrote that “They should allow peace to reign in Kwara State. The 2001/2002 religion crisis in Kwara is still fresh in my memory and I don’t pray for such in the state again. Let’s enjoy the peace and harmony”. Actually, I’m buying in to this declaration. Let us embrace peace. Since there is a divide but yet religious harmony group put in place some few years back, we can tap into how they have done it in the past, we should urge religious and social groups to stop and mind unfavorable utterances. Most importantly religious and other groups should work towards a peaceful resolution and caution those who are bent on igniting the fire of acrimony to stop.
Already, Nigeria is in a turmoil, should we fuel the fire at this time, knowing how inflammable matters of religion could be?
*Doyin writes from Ilorin via

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