The director of Legal and Public Affairs, Kwara State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Shina Ibiyemi, in a recent interview, with Vanguard News corespondent speaks on the controversy regarding the use of hijab by students in the state.
What’s the origin of the Hijab crisis in Kwara State?
The issue of hijab has been on for a long time and past governments handled it maturely. Going back down memory lane, the Education Edict signed by Colonel Lasisi Bamgboye, (retired), stated that only teachers were taken over, not schools.
It stated categorically the rights, responsibilities, and roles of proprietors of the affected schools. The schools were not taken over, they were grant-aided. That is why their names remain unchanged. That was the 1974 agreement.
What do you think is motivating the state government in this direction when previous governments never acted like that?
You should know that it is all about 2023. It is all politics.
Since government is the owner of the schools, why is it difficult for Christians to obey the directive?
The state government is not the owner of the schools. The schools were in existence before the grant aiding started. The Certificate of Occupancy, of these schools is in proprietors’ names. They all have churches and other facilities in those schools. Kwara State government is not the owner of the schools.
To what extent has the matter caused religious disharmony in the state?
Honestly, this has nothing to do with religious disharmony, but some individuals will always take advantage of such a situation. Adherents of the two religions still relate well. We have harmonious relationships, but just as I earlier said, some people will like to benefit from the crisis.
Are the mission schools likely to shift ground?
The mission schools have always been shifting ground. In the mission schools, there are imams, and there are prayer grounds for Muslims.
If you look at the complete uniform of any of the students in mission schools, they have head wears and berets. The issue of Hijab in grant-aided missionary schools is political.
Go to the stadium and see ladies playing football. Are they in Hijab? The answer is no. They will wear the right uniform.
How can the crisis be resolved without creating further disaffection among Christians and Muslims in the state?
There is a pending appeal at the Supreme Court. There is an application for stay of execution at the Supreme Court and the state has been served. Why is the state so much in a hurry? Why can’t the state wait for the outcome of the case at the Supreme Court? We should all allow rule of law to reign supreme.
Don’t you think the students, particularly those preparing for exams would suffer owing to the crisis?
It is very sad that students, especially those preparing for the West African Examination Council, WAEC, examination were not allowed to go in for lectures. From what I am seeing, it seems some people prefer culture to education. All parties should sacrifice and allow the children to resume. I pray that God in his infinite mercies grants our leaders the wisdom to do the right thing.
Source: The Vanguard News