Friday, 2 September 2016

OIC and the myth of islamisation in Nigeria

The Guardian Newspaper
By Dauda Ayanda   |   02 September 2016   |   2:40 am

“By taking Nigeria into the OIC in 1986, Ibrahim Babangida officially turned Nigeria into an Islamic state. Simply by the act of the application for OIC membership, Babangida tampered with the secularity of the Nigerian State. That unilateral decision should be reviewed because it violates Section 10 of the Constitution.” – Elder Solomon Asemota (SAN)

On February 3, 2015, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), as the Vice Presidential Candidate of All Progressives Congress informed his audience at an interactive session with professionals in Warri, Delta State that former President Goodluck Jonathan was the first and only Nigerian leader to have attended a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC). He made this assertion as a campaign build-up to 2015 general election to disabuse the mind of the electorate from falsehood associated with President Muhammadu Buhari as a Muslim fundamentalist who is perceived with the agenda of ‘Islamising’ Nigeria.

Earlier before Osinbajo’s submission, Prof. Emeka Uka – prelate and moderator of General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria – stated that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and retired General Ibrahim Babangida deserved to be tried for treason as punishment for systematically violating the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by attending the G8 summit of the OIC during their reigns in office. He stated thus: “They had gone to register Nigeria in OIC as an Islamic country; and unfortunately, during a meeting of the G8 Islamic countries held in Egypt in 2001, Obasanjo identified himself, portraying Nigeria as an Islamic country by attending that meeting. This made some people to feel that Nigeria is an Islamic country; and Islamic countries do not tolerate another religion.”

It is this complex interplay of Theology and International Relations that informed the position of respected Elder Solomon Asemota (SAN) in Vanguard Newspaper of August 25 in his capacity as the National Chairman of the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) to have declared that Nigeria is already an Islamic State and no longer a multi-religious nation as His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto was quoted in a report to have allayed fears of a plot to Islamise the nation. He asserted critically that Nigeria is a secular state in line with Section 10 of Nigerian Constitution.

For one, the origin of secularism has been extensively discussed in my earlier submission in The Guardian of September 24, November 6 and November 27, 2015 under the caption “Secularism, Shari’ah and Nigerian Constitution.” Unarguably, it is a concept developed during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe by Agnostics and advanced by Atheists and that underscore the temporal nature of its philosophy which is at crossroad with African culture on one hand and the multi-religious nature of over 250 ethnic identities in Nigeria.

Again, the eminent Jurist and retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Niki Tobi, similarly expressed his authoritative view that Nigeria is not a Secular State. He said: There is the general notion that Section 11 (of the 1989 Constitution, similar to Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution) makes Nigeria a secular nation. That is not correct. The word secular etymologically means pertaining to things not spiritual, ecclesiastical or not concerned with religion. Secularism, the noun variant of the adjective, secular, means the belief that state, morals, education etc should be independent of religion. What Section 11 is out to achieve is that Nigeria cannot, for example, adopt either Christianity or Islam as a state religion. But that is quite different from secularism (see Fundamental Legal Issues in Nigeria: Essays in Honour of Andrew Obaseki, 1999).

On the other hand, the journey to Nigeria’s membership of OIC dated accurately to 1969 when General Yakubu Gowon as the Head of State and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the Vice-Chairman of the Federal Executive Council sent a Nigerian delegation as an observer led by Alhaji Abubakar Gumi to its first meeting in Morocco in line with strategic diplomatic relation of Nigeria with other countries including but not limited to her neighbouring countries.

Cameroon as a country with a high level of religious freedom and diversity and with Christianity as the predominant faith practised by about two-thirds of the population became a full member of OIC in 1975. Republic of Benin with a predominantly Christian’s majority became member in 1982; Togo Republic became a member in 1997. According to the CIA Factbook 2012, approximately 29% of the population in Togo is Christian, 20% are Muslim, and 51% hold indigenous beliefs. Republics of Niger and Chad became member the same year in 1969 while West African Republic of Cote d’Ivoire with nearly equal population of Muslims and Christians (according to recent CIA Factbook) became member in 2001.

It is obvious that Nigeria’s full membership of OIC in 1986 is in line with strategic diplomatic interest in her neighbouring countries on one hand and global best practices contrary to religiously tainted view of Elder Asemota (SAN). If Christian-dominated countries do not become Islamic countries by their membership of OIC, why did Elder Asemota conclude that Nigeria is now an Islamic country? Even Co-operative Republic of Guyana and Republic of Suriname – heterogeneous and multicultural Christians-dominant countries in South America with minority Muslim population -are full member of OIC.

Today, the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation is an international organisation consisting of 57 member-states and has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union while the official languages are Arabic, English and French.

Obviously, if the late sage – Awolowo – were to be alive today, he would have been roundly criticised by Asemota for promoting an “Islamisation Agenda” by setting up the first Pilgrims’ Board in 1958 to assist the Muslim faithful. It is therefore befitting to unlearn intolerance and accept Nigeria’s membership of OIC as in the country’s strategic diplomatic interest.

• Ayanda is an engineer.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Prophetic Tradition on Marriage

Marriage   الزواج
ـ رسولُ اللهِ‏ِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): مَن أحَبَّ أن يَلقَى اللّه‏َ طاهِراً مُطَهَّراً فَلْيَلْقَهُ بزَوجَةٍ.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'Whoever wants to meet Allah pure and immaculate should meet him accompanied by a wife.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): ما بُنِيَ في الإسلامِ بِناءٌ أحَبَّ إلى اللّه‏ِ عزّوجلّ ، وأعَزَّ مِنَ التَّزويجِ.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'There is no institution in Islam more beloved and dearer to Allah than marriage.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): النِّكاحُ سُنَّتِي ، فَمَن رَغِبَ عَن سُنَّتي فَلَيسَ مِنّي .
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'Marriage is my practice, so whoever rejects my practice is not from me.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): ما مِن شابٍّ تَزَوَّجَ في حَداثَةِ سِنِّهِ إلّا عَجَّ شَيطانُهُ: يا وَيْلَهُ ، يا وَيْلَهُ ! عَصَمَ مِنّي ثُلُثَي دِينِهِ ، فَلْيَتَّقِ اللّه‏َ العَبدُ في الثُّلُثِ الباقِي.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'When any young person gets married at the prime of his youth, his inner Satan cries out in rage, 'Woe unto him! Woe unto him! Two thirds of his faith have now been secured against me, and he has only to be careful of his duty to Allah in the remaining third.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): إذا تَزَوَّجَ العَبدُ فقدِ استَكمَلَ نِصفَ الدينِ ، فَلْيَتَّقِ اللّه‏َ في النِّصفِ الباقي.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'When the servant gets married, he has completed half of his faith, so let him be careful of his duty to Allah in the remaining half.’
Marriage (..2)   الزواج
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): المُتَزَوِّجُ النائمُ أفضَلُ عِندَ اللّه‏ِ مِنَ الصائمِ القائمِ العَزَبِ.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'A married person sleeping is better in the sight of Allah than an unmarried person spending his night in fast and prayer.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): اِتَّخِذُوا الأهلَ؛ فإنّه أرْزَقُ لَكُم.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'Take up a wife for verily that will bring about an increase in your sustenance.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): زَوِّجُوا أياماكُم ، فَإنَّ اللّه‏َ يُحسِنُ لَهُم في أخلاقِهِم ، ويُوَسِّعُ لَهُم في أرزاقِهِم ، ويَزِيدُهُم في مُرُوّاتِهِم .
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'Marry those who are single among you for verily Allah will develop their moral traits [through marriage], He will increase their sustenance for them, and will enhance their integrity and gallantry.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): شِرارُكُم عُزّابُكُم ، رَكعَتانِ مِن مُتَأهِّلٍ خَيرٌ مِن سَبعِينَ ركعةً مِن غَيرِ مُتَأهِّلٍ .
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'The worst ones from among you are the single ones - two units of prayer performed by a married person is better than seventy units performed by an unmarried person.’
ـ الإمامُ الصّادقُ (عَلَيهِ الّسَلامُ): مَن زَوَّجَ أعزَبا كانَ مِمَّن يَنظُرُ اللّه‏ُ عزّوجلّ إلَيهِ يَومَ القِيامَةِ .
Imam al-Sadiq (AS) said, 'He who arranges for a single person to get married will be amongst those whom Allah will regard [with mercy] on the Day of Resurrection.’
Marriage (..3)   الزواج
ـ رسولُ اللهِ‏ِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): مَن تَزَوَّجَ امرَأةً لا يَتَزَوَّجُها إلّا لِجَمالِها لَم يَرَ فيها ما يُحِبُّ ، ومَن تَزَوَّجَها لِمالِها لا يَتَزَوَّجُها إلّا وَكَلَهُ اللّه‏ُ إلَيهِ ، فعلَيكُم بذاتِ الدِّينِ.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'He who marries a woman solely for her beauty will not find anything he likes in her, he who marries her for her wealth will be deprived of it as soon as he marries her, so look to marry women of faith.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): لا يُختارُ حُسنُ وَجهِ المَرأةِ على حسُنِ دِينِها.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'The beauty of a woman's faith must be given priority over the beauty of her face.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): إذا جاءَكُم مَن تَرضَونَ دِينَهُ وأمانَتَهُ يَخطُبُ (إلَيكُم) فَزَوِّجُوهُ ، إن لا تَفعَلُوهُ تَكُن فِتنَةٌ في الأرضِ وفَسادٌ كبيرٌ.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'When someone comes to you with a proposal and you are well-pleased with his faith and his integrity then accept him in marriage, for if you do not, discord and corruption will prevail in the land.’
ـ الإمامُ الحسنُ (عَلَيهِ الّسَلامُ) ـ لرجل جاءَ إلَيهِ يَستَشِيرُهُ في تَزويجِ ابنَتِهِ ـ: زَوِّجْها مِن رَجُلٍ تَقِيٍّ ، فإنّهُ إن أحَبَّها أكرَمَها وإن أبغَضَها لَم يَظلِمْها .
Imam al-Hasan (AS) said to man who came to ask his advice about getting his daughter married, 'Marry her to a pious man, for if he loves her he will honour her, and if he comes to dislike her, at least he will not be unjust towards her.’
ـ الإمامُ الرِّضا (عَلَيهِ الّسَلامُ): نَزَلَ جَبرئيلُ على النبِيّ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ) فقالَ: يا محمّدُ ، إنّ رَبَّكَ يُقرِئُكَ السلامَ ، ويقولُ: إنّ الأبكارَ مِنَ النساءِ بمَنزِلَةِ الثَّمَرِ على الشَّجَرِ، فإذا أينَعَ الثَّمرُ فلا دَواءَ لَهُ إلّا اجتِناؤهُ وإلّا أفسَدَتْهُ الشَّمسُ ، وغَيَّرَتْهُ الرِّيحُ ، وإنّ الأبكارَ إذا أدرَكنَ ما تُدرِكُ النساءُ فلا دَواءَ لَهُنَ‏إلّا البُعُولُ، وإلّا لَم يُؤمَنْ علَيهِنَّ الفِتنَةُ، فَصَعِدَ رسولُ اللّه‏ِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ) المِنبَرَ فَجَمَعَ الناسَ ثُمّ أعلَمَهُم ما أمَرَ اللّه‏ُ عزّوجلّ بِهِ.
Imam al-Rida (AS) said, 'The archangel Gabriel descended to the Prophet (SAWA) and told him, 'O Muhammad, verily your Lord extends salutations on you and says, 'Verily the virgins from among your women are as fruits on a tree, which when they ripen must be plucked otherwise the sun rots them and the wind alters them. So when young women reach marriageable age, they have no other recourse apart from husbands, otherwise they will not be safe from corruption.’ The Prophet (SAWA) then climbed the pulpit, gathered the people and informed them of what Allah had commanded him.’
Marriage (..4)   الزواج
ـ رسولُ اللهِ‏ِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): أفضَلُ نِساءِ اُمَّتِي أصبَحُهُنَّ وَجهاً وأقَلُّهُنَّ مَهراً.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'The best women of my community are those that have the prettiest faces and the smallest dowries.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ‏ِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): تَزَوَّجُوا في الحِجْزِ الصالِحِ، فإنّ العِرْقَ دَسّاسٌ.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'Marry into a good clan (family) for verily what is bred-in-the-bone will come out in the flesh.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): تَخَيَّرُوا لِنُطَفِكُم ، فإنَّ النساءَ يَلِدْنَ أشباهَ إخوانِهِنَّ وأخَواتِهِنَّ .
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'Choose carefully for your seed, for verily women give birth to children who resemble their own brothers and sisters.’
ـ رسولَ اللّه‏ِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): إيّاكُم وخَضْراءَ الدِّمَنِ ، قيلَ: يا رسولَ اللّه‏ِ، وما خَضراءُ الدِّمَنِ ؟ قالَ: المَرأةُ الحَسناءُ في مَنبِتِ السُّوءِ.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, addressing the people, 'Beware of the verdure growing in manure.’ When asked what verdure growing in manure was, he replied, 'It is the beautiful woman that comes from an evil environment.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ‏ِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): أعظَمُ الناسِ حَقّاً على المرأةِ زَوجُها ، وأعظَمُ الناسِ حقّاً عَلَى الرَّجُلِ اُمُّهُ .
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'The person with the greatest right over a woman is her husband, and the person with the greatest right over a man is his mother.’
Marriage (..5)   الزواج
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): ويلٌ لاِمرَأةٍ أغضَبَتْ زَوجَها ، وطُوبى لاِمرَأةٍ رَضِيَ عنها زَوجُها .
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'Woe unto the woman who angers her husband, and blessed is the woman whose husband is pleased with her.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): لَو أمَرتُ أحَدا أن يَسجُدَ لِأَحَدٍ لَأَمَرتُ المرأةَ أن تَسجُدَ لِزَوجِها.
The Prophet (SAWA) said, 'If I was in a position to command anyone to prostrate in front of anyone else, I would command the woman to prostrate in front of her husband.’
ـ رسولُ اللهِ‏ِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): ما زالَ‏ جَبرَئيلُ يُوصِينِي بالمرأةِ حتّى ظَنَنتُ أ نَّهُ لا يَنبَغِي طَلاقُها إلّا مِن فاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ.

The Prophet (SAWA)

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Nigeria: Hijab, CAN and Religious Tolerance

UN News 
Wednesday June 29, 2016.
By Dauda Ayanda

On September 11, 2003, two teachers at the Franklin Science Academy in Muskogee, Oklahoma, were discussing the terrorist attacks that had occurred exactly two years earlier, when they spotted a sixth grader, Nashala Hearn, wearing a Muslim headscarf. The school's dress code prohibited students from wearing "hats, caps, bandanas, plastic caps, or hoods on jackets inside the building." One of the teachers sent Nashala to the principal, who warned and later suspended the eleven-year-old when she continued to wear the scarf.

The school attorney said, "You treat religious items the same as you would any other item, no better or worse. Our dress code prohibits headgear, period." The school was willing to articulate the Establishment Clause argument against its initial antagonist, the Rutherford Institute, a Christian civil liberties foundation that assisted the Hearns in filing their complaint in a federal court. When the US Justice Department intervened by filing additional briefs against the school in the spring of 2004, however, the school quickly caved in.

Under a settlement agreement, the school agreed to change the dress code so as to include an accommodation, or exception, for religious headgear (hijab). The school also paid an undisclosed sum of monetary damages to the Hearn family. In response, Assistant Attorney General Alexander Acosta issued a public statement that "This settlement reaffirms the principle that public schools cannot require students to check their faith at the schoolhouse door."

It is this constitutional position of law that underlines the judgment delivered by Justice Jide Falola of the state High Court in Osun State on Friday June 3, 2016 in favour of a case instituted by Osun State Muslim Community against the state government on the right of female Muslim students in public schools in the state to use hijab on their school uniforms. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), its chairman and others later joined voluntarily as respondents.

In his judgment, Justice Falola traced the history of religion and observed that religion was introduced to the case when CAN and others joined the suit, noting that he decided to deliver the judgment after all plea to settle the matter amicably has proved futile. Premising his judgment on Section 38 of the Nigeria Constitution and Article 8 of the 2004 policy published by the state Ministry of Education, Justice Falola held that female Muslim students were not exempted from the freedom of religion, conscience and thought.

The judgment re-echoed the position of Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, addressed to the Department of Public Information (DPI) seminar on "Confronting Islamophobia: Education for Tolerance and Understanding" in New York, 2004 where he identified unlearning intolerance in part as a matter of legal protection. The right to freedom of religion - and to be free from discrimination based on religion - is long enshrined in international law, from the UN Charter to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other instruments. Such standards have been incorporated into the laws of many countries.

Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty, it is also a political and legal requirement. Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace as enshrined in Article 1.1 of the Declaration on Principles of Tolerance, proclaimed and signed by the Member States of UNESCO on 16 November 1995.

Article 26 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the international community in 1948, states that "Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace."

It is on the basis of using education as a tool in promoting tolerance that prompted Vernon Hills High School in USA to stage "Walk a Mile in Her Hijab" event in 2015 designed to allow Christians and other non-Muslim female students the opportunity to wear hijab and gain a better understanding of the Muslim faith. In the same vein, Dr Larycia Hawkins, a Christian and a Wheaton College Political Science Professor, posted photos of herself on Facebook and Twitter wearing a hijab to show solidarity with Muslim women in America and inviting other women to join her.

Saheela Ibraheem, a native of Ede in Osun State with her full-grown hijab was accepted to Harvard College at age ahead of her time. At 16, she was named to a list of "The World's 50 Smartest Teenagers," which got the attention of the White House. She was invited to Washington D.C. in early March 2015 where she introduced the president and first lady at a reception to kick off Black History Month. Acknowledging her exceptional nature, Obama said, "We are so proud of your accomplishments and all that lies ahead of you, and you reflect our history. Young people like this inspire our future." At no point in her career has she been denied wearing hijab.

It is on this basis of freedom of religion that Barack Obama stated at Cairo University in 2009 that "Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That's why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it."

Reinforcing this assertion, Michelle Obama paid a visit to Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets, United Kingdom in 2015 to inspire hundreds of young people where majority of teenage students cover their heads with hijab. Speaking to the crowd of hijab-clad girls, Mrs. Obama said, "When I look out at all these young women, I see myself. In so many ways your story is my story. I'm here because of you. Because girls like you inspire and impress me, every day.' She couldn't have chosen a more fantastically multicultural school - only a handful of hijab-free heads in the entire place - or a more impressive one, against the odds. More than 70 per cent of the students are on free school meals, but four-fifths go on to university.

Obviously, we live in one world as reiterated by Kofi Annan. We need to understand and respect each other, live peacefully together and live up to the best of our respective traditions. That is not as easy as we might like it to be. But that is all the more reason to try harder, with all our tools and all our will.

It is time to unlearn intolerance and accept hijab as a divinely endowed honours worn by blessed Eve wife of Adam, Sarah wife of Abraham, Mary mother of Jesus and Khadijah wife of Prophet Muhammad (may Allah be pleased with them all) as a symbol of purity and humility.

Engr. Dauda Ayanda (MNSE); former Executive Member, Nigerian Society of Engineers (Ibadan Branch) and IEEE P1903 Working Group Consultant (USA) writes from Durban, South Africa

Friday, 24 June 2016


Dr. Amiel Fagbulu

Certain events in recent days make it imperative to clarify the issue of who owns schools in Nigeria. This search is complicated by the antecedents that define the history and development of Western education in the country. It is useful therefore to open the search with a brief digression into the history of that type of education with the view of gaining an understanding of the forces that shaped their development from their inception till today.

It is pedestrian to repeat that Western-type education was an import of European missionaries and that the environment in which they propagated their type of education was entirely their personal or collective business, that is until government started meddling in the missionaries’ affairs. That movement started in England where some mainly rich do-gooders felt greatly concerned about the appalling conditions in which children of the poor worked and lived. Coupled with that was the horrendous imagery of the inhuman trade in slaves that filtered to these Christian countries to disturb the serenity of their conscience and awaken the humane elements in them that drove some to seek redemption in Christian deeds that included stopping the slave trade and making legal provisions to assist missionary schools at home and abroad. It must be acknowledged that saving the souls of those poor children was a professed and serious reason of those do-gooders who were so damn serious about that fixation that derived from the fervor of their religion.

Education in England was not planned. Ordinances and education codes that were enacted as when needed were the main sources for policy formulation over a period of about 130 years from about 1820 to the time of Nigerian self-government. Some years after they were established and applied in England these bills, codes and ordinances found their way to the colonies where the colonial governments were obliged to adopt and apply them.

Concerned and interested missionary and other groups took the initiative to establish schools and government’s concern was that the purpose for which they were established should be fulfilled. This development implied that sufficient assistance needed to be given to the schools to ensure that they survive to fulfill their dual role of harboring those freed from slavery along the West Coast and providing skills that would serve more the needs of the missionaries than the provision of life skills for those who were lured to go to, and who stayed long enough at school. The children in these institutions provided the fodder for missionaries to use in order to benefit from the fiscal intervention of governments in the form of badly needed grants.

Whichever face one puts on it, the bottom line was that governments became the major sources of funds without which the missionaries would have to go begging at home or abroad. They never adopted the option of closing schools; they persevered and made do with whatever they had. Under those conditions ‘schools’ could sink to any depth of badness. It was to obviate that possibility that governments at home and in the colonies accepted responsibility for ensuring that what was offered to the children especially of the poor in England and the converted in Africa would at least be of some benefit to them. That was how government got dragged into the business of assisting schools.

The promise of grants-in-aid ensured that schools had reliable sources of funding if they attained defined standards. So the giving of grants was a crucial factor in the rate at which new schools were opened and old ones expanded or improved qualitatively. The fact that schools did desperate things to get listed for grants speaks the obvious that grants have always been the lifeline of almost all missionary schools.

We are lucky that the whole grants-in-aid saga is properly documented in the Phillipson Report. However, since that document is not widely available to the generality of people I have taken the liberty to use some segment of my writings (Chapter 2 of my unpublished book DEFINING THE FUTURE OF NIGERIAN EDUCATION, November, 2012) here.

The Grants-in-aid Report

This brief highlight is about the financial assistance that government gave to schools across West Africa as an instrument for improving the quality of instruction being offered to the children in those areas.

The first purely Nigerian Education Ordinance was enacted in 1887. The Board of Education that assumed prominence at this time was empowered to use certain criteria to give grants to different levels from infant, through primary and secondary, to industrial schools. The Board even had the discretion to offer the sum of £10 to poor students to further their education at the secondary level. This and most of what follows come from the Phillipson Report,

As early as 1890 the familiar problems arising from the use of untrained ‘teachers’ in schools had become pronounced and problematic. Not only did demand outstrip supply, but many areas that also wanted schools could not be serviced. The consequence was that government had to step in to fill some gaps by establishing its own schools in areas where missionary influence was negligible. By so doing those schools became ‘models’ for the fund-strapped mission schools to copy. (The Education Code of 1908).

There were therefore generically three types of schools; the government, the mission, and the assisted schools. Although the so-called government schools were government ‘owned’, the reality was that the local chiefs and Native Courts as appropriate were responsible for the buildings and their maintenance. In fact, the recurrent cost for which government was supposedly responsible was covered in part by public funds.

The 1916 Regulation abolished the ‘payment-by-result’ procedure of making grants to schools. That was replaced with a better one that took cognizance of the overall efficiency of schools. The immediate effect of this change was a rapid increase in the number of assisted schools. The carefully spelt-out conditions included visit(s) from inspectors. This in turn led to the increased and improved capability of the Department of Education to monitor the appalling and dubious quality of schools in the regions that the Governor-General had commented upon

What is of importance in this narrative is that from as long ago as 1887 public fund had gone into the running costs of assisted schools. Second, government had actually transferred some of its own schools to the missions in the mid-fifties of the 19th century as contained at p.24 of that very authoritative report. This information has been ignored or denied by the missions when government had cause to reverse this trend more than 80 years later when the grant-in-aid system was being grossly exploited and abused mainly by private proprietors.

After a thorough review of the grants-in-aid system which included one of the best documented and most authoritative writings on education for the period 1842 to 1946, Phillipson made his landmark and well received recommendations under the following heads (pp.93-98):

1. Division of the grants-in-aid vote

2. A national teaching profession

3. Separation scheme for non-Government certificated teachers

4. Staff and organization of the Education Department in relation to the new grant-in-aid proposals

5. Procedure in connection with the report: implementation.

He then went out specifically to make the following recommendations (p.99):

i. That, in suitable areas and as an experiment, Native Administrations should be encouraged to introduce local education or school rates. (Paragraph 41 (b)).

ii. That the Native Authority Ordinance, 1934, be amended so as to allow of local education or school rates being applied to the support of approved Voluntary Agency schools (Paragraph 41 (b)).

iii. That grants in aid of the recurrent recognized expenses of schools and teacher training institutions under regulations 1 to 32 and 34 of the grant-in-aid regulation be classified as Nigerian expenditure and that grant-in-aid of capital and “special purposes” expenditure under regulation 33 should be classified as regional expenditure. (Paragraph 41(f)).

iv. That, subject to further consideration in connection with the first allocations of revenue to the Regions due to take place in July next, the special vote ( E150,000 in the 1948-49) Estimates) for Northern Educational Development should also be classified as Nigerian expenditure.

v. That the provision in the Nigerian Estimates for grants in aid of recurrent recognized expenses of schools and teacher training institutions should constitute a division of the Nigeria Estimate under Head 32-Education, the arrangement being as proposed in Paragraph 48.

vi. That the question of establishing national scales for certificated teachers, whether employed by the government, Native Administrations, Local Authorities or approved Voluntary Agencies, should be considered by the Director of Education in consultation with the authorities concerned.(paragraph 49)

vii. That the general procedure after the publication of this report should be as outlined in Paragraph 52

viii. That for the better administration of the scheme proposed, the Senior Service establishment of the Education Department should be strengthened, particularly at the Provincial level. (Paragraph 51)

ix. That the method of payment of grants in aid of primary schools should be as outlined in paragraph 45 (n) and that action should be concerted accordingly between the Education Department and the Accountant-General’s Department as part of the work preparatory to bringing the regulations into effect on 1st January,1949.

x. That the Government should definitely accept liability for the retiring benefit of non-Government teachers under the proposed superannuation scheme. (Paragraph 50)

The most relevant part of the Phillipson Report for the 1960s was

That the question of establishing national scales for certificated teachers, whether employed by the government, Native Administrations, Local Authorities or approved Voluntary Agencies, should be considered by the Director of Education in consultation with the authorities concerned.(paragraph 49)

Even today, that dream has not been actualized because, strictly interpreted, our schools should have only specially trained personnel as teachers working in them.

These were important issues that were highlighted, discussed, and resolved in the Phillipson Report recommendations which should be kept sharply in view since their vital importance as the precursors of Adefarasin and Asabia for instance, could otherwise be lost.

If Nigerian education had taken cognizance of Phillipson’s Report and had actually worked on the specific recommendations quoted above that:

1. A national teaching profession be set up and
2. Separation scheme for non-Government certificated teachers be worked out the many justified but disruptive strikes by the NUT that led to the setting up of the Adefarasin Commission would have been obviated.

The VANGUARD of 22 August, 2013 throws more light on the size of the problem and what ensued from the national view-point of industrial unrest in Nigeria. The timing and other consequential activities about the teachers’ strike that changed the face of education forever is better portrayed by quoting the OPINION page in that paper on that day. It said:

So strong was the JAC’s influence and so successful was this strike that four months later, the traditionally conservative unions in the education sector formed their own JAC, and went on a country-wide strike “for the first time in the history of Western education in Nigeria.”

This teachers’ strike which ran from October 1-9, 1964 was over their insistence that a national joint industrial council be established for the education sector in accordance with the agreements on the Morgan Commission Report. The teachers won and the council comprising sixty members was established under the chairmanship of Justice J. A. Adefarasin.

The clue to the ownership of schools in Nigeria can be traced to the Adefarasin Report and more to its sub-committee headed by Asabia. The main report addressed, to the satisfaction of teachers, the issues of parity (equal pay for equal work) with their contemporaries teaching in government schools and the unification of conditions of service for all teachers that would allow the best teachers being appointed to any post anywhere purely on merit. That recommendation implies that at least in a state all teachers should be fairly treated by opening all avenues of upward mobility within that state equally to them.

That type of commitment presumes the availability of a central dynamic record of service of teachers. If teachers were still tied to the apron strings of proprietors who had full control over them it would be very difficult to evolve an organization that would request and get the proprietors to keep records in standard formats and submit returns on time. Secondly many records from the various sources could be incomplete, deliberately falsified, not properly or consistently kept, and more. Finally, the scarce expertise to assess and impartially appoint key personnel will be spread thin if each agency were free to do so.

As the adviser to the Asabia commission the experience from years of supervising schools and teachers and seeing the wastefulness that was visible as one went around and within the system, I had no choice than to open the eyes of the members to such abuses. The practice in Ghana of having a central School Board that devoted itself to sorting out teachers’ problems centrally advised my determination to point the members in the same direction that I thought was the right one.

I had to leave the committee for further studies abroad and Sofolahan took over as adviser. Because the top professionals at the Ministries of Education had exhaustively discussed and exchanged views on this matter the view which I had expressed was endorsed by both Sofolahan and (I was told) Ihejerika both of who completed the assignment as advisers to the Asabia Commission.

The case for take-over was quite simple. Grants were computed uniformly for schools based on experience and market value of goods and services. The funds were deemed adequate to run schools, with the proviso that where applicable and approved, tuition fees charged would just be sufficient for schools to meet all their financial obligations. Most schools lived within their means as was expected but the demand from many schools for increase in the grants made to them became deafening from some of the powerful missionary proprietors.

Ajuwa Grammar School, Oke-Agbe; Mayfair College Ikenne, and Molusi College,Ijebu-Igbo flaunted their innovativeness and stretched their grants to cover things like the cost of new classroom blocks almost every year while some others were always complaining of the inadequacy of the funds. It was therefore clear that something was amiss and that whatever it was, it was not that the grants were inadequate. That was the smoking gun that triggered the search. At the end of our study at the Ministry of Education it became clear that the proprietors who were NOT paying the piper were actually dictating the tunes to be played rather recklessly. That type of attitude was seen as being unfair to the tax payers.

The take-over of schools has not been reported upon sufficiently for most people to understand the nefariousness and Machiavellian dimensions attached to it. To start with, it meant loss of income to some proprietors who were actually milking the people while pretending that they were magnanimously making sacrifices for them. Next is the falsehood that the governments did not pay compensation to proprietors. Another was that it was the federal government’s decree that made takeover final and legal. Last but not the least is that by retaining their names government had conceded that take-over was just in name alone. There are other false assumptions that will be dealt with as they are made.

The takeover of schools was a final act of dissociation of former proprietors from ownership of their schools. The schools no longer belong to them. To talk of Muslim or Christian schools that are run with public funds is absolute nonsense. Any school that is run with public money is a public school. All others are private institutions at whatever level and by whatever name.

The question of compensation was raised by the proprietors of most of the Christian- and Muslim-based schools. In the West the only bodies I clearly remember as handing over schools voluntarily and with no conditions attached were the Seventh Day Adventist group and Adeola Odutola who owned a fairly good secondary school at Ijebu-Ode. The noisiest ones were sole proprietors who individually owned schools. The discussions were preliminary and informal exchanges to advise both sides before the final decision was taken. The government of the Western State was glad to oblige but what silenced the demand were the conditions put to the proprietors based on government’s sense of fairness to the taxpayers whose funds had been utilized. They were as follows:

1. Proprietors would calculate their investment on all structures in the school including the land (x) which by the education laws of the time must be registered in perpetuity in the name of the school (at least in the West)

2. Proprietors would compute the total amount they had incurred in running the school from inception to date of takeover (y)

3. Proprietors would compile a list of the value of all gifts and donations the school had received (p)

4. Government would compile the value of all grants (general and special) that it had paid to the school up to the time of takeover (q).

5. Compensation to proprietors would be C = [(x + y) – (p + q)]

When the discerning proprietors among them did the Arithmetic and found out that they would be seriously indebted to government at the end of the exercise they blinked and went silent. A funny footnote to the exercise was the demand of one or two proprietors who wanted to be paid for their ‘brand’ name. Government had no use for their names anyway and when they eventually lost, they pleaded with government to kindly retain those names, a demand which was graciously granted.

Heritage has at least two dimensions. Your child can only make claims to what belongs to you. That is one form of heritage. The other like UNESCO’s heritage, relates to values. The pleasure derived from listening to Sonny Ade’s music or reading Achebe’s books are golden gems they have bequeathed to the world. Achebe collects his royalty forever, which means that it is a heritage of his children. We who acclaim and cherish the books are not beneficiaries of the pecuniary offerings. Similarly UNESCO helps preserve those monuments in Egypt say, but it is the Egyptian government and people that own the monuments. The government, when it took over schools took over the land, the structures on them, and the responsibility to continue to run schools. Those who are capitalizing on Heritage can be assured that it is their’s to cherish and share with the world. They are free to do so.

A few students imported the Dancing Club from the Higher College, Yaba to the University College, Ibadan. We started the Bug and later others started the original Cult that was not malevolent. They are part of the history of that institution. The good things keep going from generation to generation and those who cherish them regard them as part of things to be retained forever. Heritage in the sense people are talking about it will survive on its own if the generations want them. There is no law that new influences cannot add their own quota before they pass away. There is nothing stopping those being locked out today from leaving their imprints that will be cherished behind.

The form for the annual census of schools provides for three categories of ‘girls only’, ‘boys only’ and mixed schools. It is the responsibility of government to determine which of its public schools will be designated in any of the three categories. As a part of the process of development if it becomes necessary to alter the gender status of any school especially from a mixed to a single gender and vice-versa, it may be necessary to do some juggling of names. For instance a St. Agnes Girls’ School cannot become mixed and still retain its name. However it could become St. Agnes High School or something equally appropriate without much loss of identity. While the use of adjectives like Junior, Senior, Middle, High, and Primary are helpful indicators of level, those of gender like boy’s, girl’s, and mixed are pointless tautologies as names go. A St, Agnes should have no trouble ministering to both girls and boys, or doing whatever saints are supposed to do for both genders.

Government should not exert any serious effort to take on the trivial exercise of changing the names of schools for the mere fun of it. There must however be rhyme and rhythm in naming schools. Changing the name of an institution will always generate some heat. University of Ife alumni protested to the heavens but UNIFE is today OAU and the heavens have not fallen. It should be possible to reconcile all views with no ulterior motives through dialogue.

The claim that the federal government enforced the takeover is false. Those who are old enough will remember that the exercise was not uniformly executed across the country. The Catholics put up a very tenacious resistance in the East that slowed implementation. Some states only half-heartedly carried it out simply because Education has always been on the concurrent list and no central government could successfully enforce such a complex maneuver at a swoop even under the military. Decrees merely backed the intention of governments and the people who had spoken through Asabia. Each state is free to do what is best for its people.

One lingering and unfortunate consequence of the takeover of schools is the undeniable fact that standards of education have fallen over the years since the takeover. It is in no way a direct consequence of the proposal but one of implementation by government. In fact the takeover was to be a new beginning whereby the following would take place in the spirit of Adefarasin and Asabia:

a. All existing and new schools would be registered: that implied that the basic minimum requirements for providing good education would be provided in all schools irrespective of who was the proprietor. That would satisfy the demand of the NUT that all educational institutions should provide equal facilities for the children to learn and the teachers to teach

b. All schools would be bound by the same rules and treated equally when being assessed in respect of management, number and quality of staffing, and other areas that deal with the evaluation of the outcome of learning. I had the unpleasant duty of writing to the government of the Western State to give notice of closure in respect of the famous Government College, Ibadan of which I was by law the stand-in proprietor on behalf of the government, due to poor accommodation and general neglect. That decadence as it developed had shown that governments could default in providing fully for their schools and that any measure to avoid that unfortunate situation must be a corner-stone of any changes.

c. All schools would have properly constituted Boards of Governor to oversee the management of the schools as outlined in law. That body would be independent and good enough to get governments to act appropriately in funding schools.

At the primary school level in particular, the Local Education Authorities have been greatly handicapped to the extent that it is difficult to believe that they exist at all. The truth is that governments have increasingly been unable to fund education adequately and though the rates might have been perhaps slower, the rot would have set in anyway if even schools had not been taken over.

In concluding it should be reiterated that public schools belong to the people and that government as the representative of the people has the responsibility to determine the future of education and the direction and shape schools take. There is no problem of education that cannot be solved through dialogue if those involved are sincere and have no hidden agenda. And for the sake of our children let us take interest in education and make constructive inputs. Government should take the lead and we should walk and work with it all the way.

Dr. Amiel M. Fagbulu
Thursday, 17 October, 2013

OPINION – ‘CAN Should Do Its Research’ – Dr Amiel Fagbulu
It is regrettable that a respected body like CAN can display so much ignorance in respect of education in Nigeria. To start with, the State of Osun like the rest of Nigeria cannot discriminate in the provision of educational facilities on the basis of gender or religion. Secondly CAN is operating from a false premise that some schools are Christian schools.
All public schools belong to all the people irrespective of their religious beliefs. If we Christians want to have schools over which we will have full control, the constitution provides for that.

Finally the history of the take-over of schools credited to Gowon is also false. The take-over of schools was a direct consequence of the Asabia Commission and I was the originator of the idea with my colleagues who served after me as advisers to that body. A main reason for that action was that the proprietors who received grants from government and fleeced parents through high fees made education very expensive. In spite of not investing their own money in education they failed to pay teachers on time if at all; they tyrannized teachers; they even went as far as not promoting teachers on merit especially if those teachers belonged to other denominations.

CAN should please do its research and acknowledge that Adefarasin emancipated teachers and Asabia, its sub-committee recommended the procedures for achieving that end, If CAN needs being educated on this issue, I will oblige. In the meantime it should stop spreading falsehood.

Aregbesola may or may not be guilty of wanting to Islamize Osun; that is not my concern here. Accusing him of using education is however not true.

Comments by Dr Amiel Fagbulu who retired as head of EMIS (Education Management Systems) from the Federal Ministry of Education and was retained as Consultant both by Federal Government & the UNESCO on Education Management Systems

Hijab: As CAN Media War Rages on

It started with The Punch, The Nation and now, The Guardian, Vanguard and the Sun. Of particular interest to TMC is the poorly written article from Shiekh Ray Wikipedia Ekpu, entitled ‘Unveiling the Hijab.’

And as the TMC release was hitting the public Vanguard newspaper did not only tell naked lies, it goofed big time. It was indeed ‘good’ job for the pay.

In its Comment on page 18, entitled: “Averting religious crisis in Osun” Vanguard wrote: “The CAN had appealed against the judgment and ordered Christian pupils to wear church robes to classrooms in the meantime”.

It is unfortunate that Vanguard did not justify its pay in this shoddy Comment because CAN has never appealed the judgment.

Again, in its failed comment. Another error “we totally abhor Governor Aregbesola’s quixotic and dangerous religious adventurism in Osun… His untiring efforts to push his personal religious agenda in schools have stoked tension which could boil over any time unless sanity is allowed to prevail in the state.”

It is disheartening that Vanguard was paid to proclaim imminent war in Osun when he said the Governor “push his personal religious agenda”, I don’t know why has forgotten to realized that the court gave judgment and not government policy.

Daily Sun opinion page of 22nd of June entitled: The hijab Controversy in Osun was not any better. While it adroitly landed by asking CAN to approach the higher court to set the judgment aside, it stylishly preached that status quo remains meaning, jettison their rights in the interest of ‘peace’, while the oppression and the denial of hijab continues.

Wale Sokunbi in her opinion threw caution to the wind by calling a well researched judgment of Justice Jide Falola ‘controversial’. In her words, the judgment ‘is a recipe for anarchy, as students of all faiths may decide to start coming to school in their different religious apparels.

She ridiculously posited that student adherents of other traditional religions may begin to come to school with their occasional, “red and white apparels, divination beads, palm fronds and calabashes filled with kolanuts, red oil and other items…

Sokunbi, a supposed columnist of high standing incredibly claimed hijab could lead to subtle propagation of religion and accused judiciary of bias when she said, “the state judiciary should not be seen to be promoting the use of paraphernalia of any religion in school.”

The most saddened is where Vanguard said “students of baptist high school, Iwo, who wore church garments and choir robes on their uniforms in reaction to the hijab, were denied entry into the school premises,” when the same Vanguard had previously celebrated the photos of students in choir robes sitting together with their colleagues in the classrooms unhindered, in the front page of one of its edition.

In a clear display of editorial incompetence, rather than appeal to CAN to seek redress at the court, Vanguard ignorantly “recommend out-of-court settlement” for a case that had already been decided!

Now, coming back to ‘honorable’ Shiekh Ray Wikipedia Ekpu’s article in the Guardian: ‘Unveiling the Hijab,’ the author surely cannot be the popular professional Ray Ekpu that we know. Else, the phenomenon will only lend credence to a saying that: it is hard to justify falsehood without inventing many other lies to cover it up.

No doubt, The Muslim Congress has taken the ignorant author to the cleaner with a rejoinder, unveiling, it will spring no surprise if the Christian-dominated media in Nigeria fail to publish it. After all, The Nation refused to publish a similar rejoinder against its ‘Curious Verdict’ about a week ago.

This is a wake up call to the Nigerian Muslims. They need to wake up to the evil plots of the Nigerian media, painstakingly exposed in my book, ‘Muslims and the Threats of the Media’.

This year Ramadan is quite a hard time for the Ummah. It is indeed very unfortunate, that as Muslims strive to contain and expose the evil of the ‘sponsored Sheikh’ called Habeeb Adam Al Ilory from within, external detractors are using the media to bastardise the sancity of an Islamic symbol, hijab.

As it had been in the past, Islam will definitely survive this new wave of attack. Victory will surely kiss our feet, with strong bond and a united voice. This is where the relevance of the ignoramus called ‘Laa Jam’ah’ pale into insignificance. Or how would this kind of challenges have been confronted in isolation?

Hence, more than ever before, the time is now when Islamic organisations must jettison their differences and work together to fight for their common interest. This is when Nasfat, Qareeb, Ansar-ud-deen, Nacomyo and others stand up to be counted. This ideological battle must be fought and won, once and for all.

If Muslims refused to do the needful, Allah’s promise to raise another set of people who will do it perfectly shall certainly come to pass.

Rasheed Abubakar can be reached via:

Kikiowo Ileowo: Much ado about hijab in the State of Osun

Much has been said in recent times about the wearing of Hijab and Church robes to school by pupils in public schools in the state of Osun, however, what has apparently been missing in the discussion is the availability of facts and logic for discussants to analyze the true situation of things before passing their opinions.

Before going to the crux of matter, let me lay a background of the true situation of things as regards the recent hullaballoo amongst groups that purport to represent the interest of diverse religious groups in the state of Osun. We have Christians represented by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); Muslims, represented by the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN); the government, led by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, and other interested parties in the case.

The religious conflict got to a crescendo last week when an Osun State High Court judge, Justice Jide Falola, delivered a judgment in favour of a case instituted by the MSSN against the state government on the right of female Muslim students in state public schools to wear Hijab to their various classes. The judge declared the wearing of Hijab in public schools by female Muslim pupils as legal and appropriate.

The Muslims had dragged the state government headed by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola to court over the refusal of some ‘Christians’ public schools to allow their female students wear the Hijab. After the judgment, CAN Osun State Chapter instructed Christian pupils to wear church robes to school if the state government dare implement the judgment.

To cut the long story short, some five students, following the instruction of the CAN leaders, wore church robes to school this week. In fact, the CAN leaders followed the pupils to schools to make sure they weren’t turned back for wearing their church robes (never mind they haven’t carried out such an action over the failure of some Christian pupils after their examinations).

Interestingly, a similar suit by the Muslim group in Lagos had failed to see the light of the day as the judge, Justice Modupe Onyeabor, rule that the prohibition of the wearing of Hijab over school uniforms within and outside the premises of public schools was not discriminatory. According to her, the ban does not violate Sections 38 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution as claimed by the plaintiffs. The Judge also said Section 10 of the Constitution made Nigeria a secular state and that government must maintain neutrality at all times. Justice Onyeabor held that the government had a duty to preserve the secular nature of the institutions concerned as argued by the then Lagos State Solicitor-General, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN).

The Muslims in Lagos has since proceeded to the Court of Appeal where it is yet to be determined. Why should the case of Osun CAN be different? Aren’t they supposed to be the salt and light of the earth? Aren’t they supposed to be leading by example? Rather than take the legal route, CAN in the state of Osun resorted to self-help, asking students to disobey school rules by wearing unapproved uniforms. The Christians based their argument on one point; the Muslims cannot be allowed to wear hijab in ‘Christian schools’.

By Edict No. 14 of 1975, the then military government took over private/missionary schools because, according to available records, “the owners charged exorbitant fees and did not give quality education to students. School buildings were of substandard structures, unqualified teachers were employed, teaching and learning materials were inadequate while classrooms were over-crowded.”

This was the summary of the situation of privately owned schools that prompted the takeover of all such schools in 1975. It should be mentioned here however that the findings of the Western State Government in 1975, was not at variance with, but a replica of one common feature of the reports of the various Educational Review Committees set up at different times in the old three main regions of Nigeria. These include the Oldman’s Report in the old North, Dike’s Report of the old East, and Banjo’s Report of the Western Region. The reports of the various committees intensely reflected the acute immobility that had characterized the inherited colonial system that involved prejudice, high handedness, religious discrimination in pupils’ enrolment, staff recruitment and the general administration of schools. (

In fact, the “Takeover of schools Validation Decree” of 1977, which still remains in force, states that, “the hold of government on those schools has afforded the government to be able to provide sustained education to the mass majority of the Nigerian public at an affordable cost, without RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION AND BIAS”.

What this means is that there are no Christian or Muslim schools in Osun. There are only PUBLIC schools. The government back in 1976 resolved to keep the names given by the missionaries. That is why you have public schools bearing names such as Ede Muslim Grammar School, Baptist High School, Adeeke, Iwo, etc. The schools may bear religious names, but they belong to the government/public. It is being financed with public funds. Most of the schools now wear new look,with modern learning equipment paid for by ALL citizens of Osun, which include Christians, Muslims, Traditional Worshippers, Agnostic and Atheists alike.

Therefore, the schools the Christians are laying claim to are government schools. They were acquired from diverse sources; religious, individuals, communities, groups, etc in 1975. That is, 41 years ago. But for the five students of Baptist High School, Adeeke, Iwo, many Christian pupils in Osun ignored the CAN leadership, toeing the path of decorum and civility. In truth, the school where the orchestrated drama took place housed three schools with combined population of about 3000 students and we saw no other student wear unapproved garments to school.

Even though Ogbeni had reiterated his stand on the matter, when he said at an event earlier this week that, “It is not the business of any government, through the schools, to lead a child in a particular religious direction. That will be for parents and religious institutions, in private capacity, until the child is grown enough to make a decision on religion.

He said, “The government cannot support or be seen to be supporting a particular religion. The government is a democracy, not a theocracy. I believe also that parents and society should complement the government in shaping the minds of the pupils to be receptive to knowledge and godly character formation; to be sensitive to the need of others, the plurality of our society and the imperative of mutual toleration. They should also be brought up to be team players, even when in a competitive environment. It amounts to subversion of the educational needs of a child for them to be drawn into and used for political purposes.”

Despite this reassurance from the state governor, CAN went ahead to carry out its provocative threat. Going forward, the motives of the CAN leaders in Osun must be questioned. In whose interest are they acting? For most part, CAN played and is still playing the role of government opposition rather than a pious body meant to instill morals and discipline on many of its followers who look up to it for leadership. A body like CAN ought to at ALL times, promote peace and harmony, rather than seek through the back door, what it could have easily achieved in a court of law.

Thank God other citizens did not take laws into their hands. Imagine if the traditional worshippers – many of whom are in abundance in Osun – decide to start wearing traditional robes such as Bante, Ifunpa, Ofi, etc. Or imagine for a minute, adherents of Osun religion begin demanding wearing of white uniforms only, with white beads to school? Or, children of Sango worshippers, in another instance, insist on wearing red caps to school, with earrings in the ears of their boys?

Muslims have been wearing Hijab to schools since God knows when. As a Christian, it doesn’t hinder my faith or ability to learn. If the CAN leadership has a problem with it, they should approach the law courts, rather than embark on actions that could cause disaffection amongst the peace loving people of Osun.

Ileowo Kikiowo is the Chief Strategist at Revamp Media.

Osun State: In Defence of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola


Osun State: In Defence of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola

By Wale Adedayo

The few months spent as a student of The Redeemed Bible College (RCCG Area Headquarters, Ita Elewa, Ikorodu, Lagos State) in 2004 taught me a few things about checking for facts beyond what journalism teaches. It could mean all the difference in spiritual warfare matters. This is equally important, as I have since come to learn, in many areas of life as well. Due to that well-enriching programme, it was within a month of being part of the MA (Theology) class I almost completed my house in Ikorodu, Lagos State which son of man had abandoned since 2001. But that is a story for another day, soon.

A number of friends have either joined a lynch-mob trying desperately to crucify Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, or kept a measured distance as they may not want to be ‘stained’ by allegations of religious bias directed at a leader, who is expected to be neutral given his position as father to all. Aregbesola, according to the opposition politicians, who initiated the current campaign a few years back, is an Islamic extremist bent on foisting his religion on Osun State. They also claim the governor initiated the wearing of Hijab in Osun State schools.

Apart from the two allegations above, there are claims the man has not done anything worthwhile to justify his years as a sitting governor. They believe everything positive about Aregbesola is being hyped. A senior figure in Nigeria’s pro-democracy movement even wrote on a WhatsApp forum a few days ago that all the schools the governor built in Osun State have been overtaken by weeds as students are not there at all. Of course, this friend has sympathy for failed gubernatorial candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Iyiola Omisore. Thus, his argument, despite the untruths it contains, is understandable.

But this piece will not go into the many projects already executed by Aregbesola despite the paucity of funds in a state that is largely a civil service one. It is my intention to shine some light on the Hijab-wearing controversy that the Osun State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is being used to push by its underwater drummers. Unfortunately, they have succeeded in pulling the wool over the eyes of many by carefully concealing facts that would have exposed the supposed Christian group as pawns in the hands of failed politicians desperate to get back to reckoning as another round of election approaches in Osun State.

Fact 1: The schools which CAN is claiming belong to its members are actually public schools, having been taken over by the Western State Government in 1975. The schools belong to the Osun State Government today, being one of the states constituting the old Western State. But unlike Northern Nigeria, where such schools had their names changed, probably to reflect the new ownership, Western State did not remove the original names. For instance, late Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, went to St. John’s College, Kaduna. The school has since been renamed Rimi College, Kaduna, because it is now a public institution. That the names, such as Baptist High School, Iwo, are being retained does not make the schools that of the original owners. They are now government properties, a fact that Osun State CAN did not disclose.

The Administration of former Osun State Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, gave further teeth to this policy with its “Directives of the state government” in 2004 concerning Education Policy in the state, published by the Ministry of Education. Article 8 of the 2004 directives states clearly that, “there are no mission schools presently in Osun State as all schools have been taken over by government in 1975.” Osun State CAN knew about this, but kept the fact from public view.

Fact 2: The insidious propaganda initiated by Osun State’s failed politicians listed Aregbesola as the initiator of Hijab in schools. This has been the campaign slogan of Osun State CAN and its supporters. But a discerning mind would have discovered either through court papers or quality media reports that this is a fallacy being propagated by perfidious persons to gain political advantage. In a detailed report by ThisDay newspaper’s Bureau Chief in Osogbo, Yinka Kolawole, on 4 June 2016, the journalist wrote, among others, that,

“The Osun State Muslim Community on February 14, 2013, dragged the state government to the court, seeking an order of the court to allow female Muslim students enjoy their fundamental rights by granting them order to use hijab in public schools. The suit which was directly instituted against the state government, was also joined as respondents, the state Commissioner for Education, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.

“But, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, its chairman and others, voluntarily joined as respondents. The applicants, in a 44 paragraph affidavit in support of their motion, applied for the enforcement of their fundamental rights pursuant to Sections 38 and 42 of the constitution. The applicants through their lead-counsel, Kazeem Odedeji, told the court that female Muslim students were being harassed by the fourth and fifth respondents, insisting that such was a clear discrimination and infringement on their fundamental rights.

“Odedeji who premised his argument on a decision of a Court of Appeal, Ilorin, between the Provost, College of Education and one Basirat Saliu, noted that female Catholics wear hijab, while Mary, the mother of Jesus always appear on picture with hijab on her head. Odedeji also explained that his prayer was to allow female Muslim students wear hijab in some schools where they were being denied, noting that they had been wearing it in accordance with the 2004 Directives of the state government.”

Stemming from this newspaper report, which was based on court records, the facts established include proof that Aregbesola did not initiate the wearing of Hijab in any form. It was the Osun State Muslim Community, relying on Oyinlola’s 2004 policy, that initiated a suit as far back as 2013 to ensure that its female children are allowed to wear Hijab in public schools, not mission schools. This record also displayed proof that Aregbesola’s administration initially sought to restrain this, thus the harassment mentioned by the petitioners. These facts were hidden from the public by Osun State CAN, which should have displayed exemplary conduct through its leaders by stating clearly for all to know that the schools in question are not Christian/Mission ones, but actually belong to the Osun State Government.

For me, two options are open to Osun State CAN, if partisan politics will allow its leadership to faithfully serve the groups it claims to represent. The first, arising from the victory of Osun State Muslim Community at the court, is to approach a superior court in order to overturn an undesirable judgment. This is a far better approach than the use of children in resorting to self-help against the judgment of a court. The second option, which, to me, is even better than an appeal is to work on lobbying the Osun State Government into releasing the contentious schools back to their original owners. Some states have done this already. But it was not at the instance of Government. Powerful lobbyists went to work on behalf of cerebral Christian groups, who knew their onions. Osun State CAN surely have educated and well-experienced members among its ranks. Instead of the current Jankara approach, which will certainly not yield any fruitful result, why not borrow a leaf from the success stories of others to get what they want?

But, there is a very sad aspect to the whole drama. Religion of any kind forbids lying and lending yourself to be used to aid liars. An image of public schools being turned over to Muslims have been painted in the minds of many by Osun State CAN. From the facts above, that is a lie from the pit of hell! There are no mission schools among the ones in contention in Osun State today. They are all public schools, and have been so since 1975. Osun State CAN lied, lent itself to be used by politicians for lies and deceived a lot of people in the process. The conscience of these so-called men of God should worry them that they are doing everything possible to ridicule the name of God, who admonished them through the Holy Bible not to lie or lend themselves to be used by liars.

A few words to the mischief makers desperately doing everything possible to paint the Osun State Governor as a covet extremist. These are mainly from my posts to Facebook. Aregbesola is passionate about his religion, Islam. But he is one moderate Muslim that many erroneously see as a fundamentalist. His Christian friends feel very much at ease with him. But his best friends are Yoruba self-determination activists along with quality comrades from other climes. Initially, the cousins of Boko Haram in Osun State claimed Aregbesola is not a genuine Muslim. Their grouse? A quality hand of fellowship was extended by the governor to practitioners of African Traditional Religion. This, they kicked against.

Enter the Christian bigots, who claimed Ogbeni wants to foist Islam on the whole state. Not many of them know he has quality ‘SU’s as blood brothers and sisters. Some are even Pastors today, having left Islam for Christianity. The change has never brought about any strain in their relationship. Instead, Ogbeni believes each person is entitled to finding God in his/her ways. So, each time the fundamentalist tag is used to describe him, I always laugh because those who do so may have never interacted with Aregbesola. They form opinion based on what his political opponents push out and a sense of hidden disdain for Muslims, who are not shy to wear the religion on their sleeves. He is such a Muslim. His dressing, mien, carriage and words carry Islam in almost every way. But he does not force it on anybody. Has never done so.

Immediately you see his picture or video, the first thing that strikes the person is like, “Oh! This one is a Muslim?” And for a seating Governor in a Southern Nigeria, where it is assumed only Christians are everywhere with a small mix of Muslims, it is natural that a misgiving that cannot be immediately explained is shown. Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s endorsement of Aregbesola towards his re-election, when the Osun State PDP sought to malign him as an extremist using the same set of Christian leaders campaigning against him today, readily comes to mind. Osinbajo gave what I will describe as the best description of Aregbesola so far. And the vice president is an RCCG Pastor.

Aregbesola has no blame in the matter at hand. A hidden disdain for practising Muslims, who are very proud of their religion is the root of the propaganda by underwater drummers of the governor’s critics, who believe he cannot be tackled on performance in office, that provided ammunition against this quality Yoruba Leader. He is loved by his people. Progressive minded elements love him more. He should just be encouraged to develop the state or be left alone.

Just my two cents!