Thursday, April 15, 2021

[FILE IMAGE] School girls in Hijab

According to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

n February 2021, the Kwara State Government closed ten Christian Schools for not adhering to the Hijab wearing policy in Ilorin township Schools. The Schools are 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.

Unfortunately, with the unhealthy variables at which we relate in Nigeria our level of tolerance, that is our willingness to recognize and respect the beliefs and practices of others is far below average. Our opinion on Hijab policy pollution revealed our limited tolerance level within the Nigerian society, sometimes displays outside Nigeria.

Our great parents tolerated and related across religious and ethnic groups peacefully, especially demonstrated during religious festivals, especially in Yorubaland. My wife, as a Christian, started her education in Islamic School, Okesuna, Ilorin, and fluently recite the Muslim Prayers in Arabic.

Christians and Moslems dined together do festivals together peacefully, harmoniously. Today we must educate the young ones and some educated religious illiterates, that religion is a something unique that has been bidding Kwarans together, until the hiding Hijab policy became open.

Christians and Moslems shared Turkey, Rams and New Yam products during religious Festivals among us. Currently, (2021), with the dilution of ethnic groups within Nigeria, sadly, it is becoming things of the past and it is further dividing Nigeria.

Regardless, under this new democracy dispensation, the Government is not justifiable to impose religion on its citizens. This is not a respect for the law and rights of every citizen. Unfortunately, the Hijab decision is adding more fuel to the already spongy environment.

You cannot Islamize the public services in the State.

Nelson Mandela once remarked "Our world is not divided by Race, Color, Gender, or Religion, our world is divided into wise people and fools. And fools divide themselves by Race, Color, Gender or Religion."

Unfortunately, Religion has always been a tool, manipulated by the elites of Nigeria, to keep the poor and unenlightened in a perpetual state of misery. Unfortunately, Nigeria's brand of Islam is always the pawn on the chess board.

Before the Government made the decision on February 23, 2021 on the use of Hijab in Christian Schools, regardless its very questionable extensive consultation, unlike Bamigboye who made "Full Scale Consultations" on Government before taken over the Schools of July 1972, the current Government failed to pause before judging. Assuming, whenever it wants to react harshly to avoid doing things it will later regret with the chaotic situation created by closing Christian Schools on the unprogressive Education policy on Hijab.

Unfortunately, Hijab in Ilorin Schools is like leaving Leprosy to cure Guinea Worm in Kwara State, if the choice of school uniform, dress code, is the prerogative right of the School Management. This is not even compulsory in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is just the focal point because of her peculiarity in Islam.

The Hijab policy by the Kwara State Government is a volcano ready to erupt, distracting the harmonious living conditions, in a poorly developed State, that ought to focus on Industrializing the State; develop rural areas by opening them up; provide accessible Water Supply; provide regular Power Supply, to promote Small Scale Industries (like Cashews), as a way of decongesting the urban centers, especially Ilorin; bringing Education to its modern world-class level, instead of the standpat policy on Education.

Kwara Educated elites, supposed to utilize their acquired education, to improve the quality of Education in Kwara State; and to liberate people from their poverty level. Religion has always been a tool manipulated by the elites of Nigeria to keep the poor and unenlightened in a perpetual state of misery.

Regrettably, Nigeria's brand of Islam is always the pawn on the chessboard.

Unfortunately, the current Government operators are deviating from Democracy as an average Nigerian Executive, has the autocratic tendencies in their style of Management. Kwara State Government used force to unlock the padlocked Christian Schools, disregarding the leaky current situation in Nigeria. Kidnappers could lay their hands on those not wearing Hijab in the Schools as targets.

Ironically, some School of Thought argues on government funding of Kwara Schools. Little does the School realizes that Nigerians Resources are being dispensed on programs to benefit Citizens.

Traditionally in Africa, especially in Nigeria, women traditional mode of dressing includes the head tie (gele). The European colonizers came and made gele an inferior sartorial choice! Thank God, things are changing for good today (2021).

The Hijab controversy has its good side after all, which could be modified. One of my friends would agree that it is even good for the female grown-up adults, who are more matured in their religious beliefs.

Could the Hijab wearing policy be extended to other religious groups in the State, like Sango, Ogun, Egungun, Yemoja, the White Garment Churches for school?

Religion should be a unifying force.

Unfortunately, the Hijab issue publicly brought out the unprecedented and extreme prejudice that put Ilorin above other Kwarans outside skill, diligence, hard work or moral conduct. Also, religious intolerance, which we all thought would had worked over in Kwara State, is being used as a fishing bait of discord.

It is a practical truth that these two behavioral patterns have extended to all aspects of public services in Kwara State, most especially public appointments and services at both State and Federal Schools, and admission to Schools especially Universities in Kwara State.

Quoting from one of my friends, AbdulRasaq Hamzat, "Don't seek knowledge, seek enlightenment: Don't seek intelligence or smartness, seek exposure, network and build your capacity through volunteering in various sectors. An exposed person will always override the intelligent and the well networked will go farther than the smart. Where knowledge and intelligence end capacity and network begin."

We could borrow from the current Governor private School, in Maitama, Abuja where Hijab was never discussed. The Students future and welfare, like ballet dancing, music, piano, swimming, tech development and excursion to Schools outside Nigeria is part of its policies.

One of the Christian Schools, Cherubim and Seraphim College was vandalized by armed thugs on the issue of Hijab. The presence of policemen as they were overwhelmed, could not avert the destruction.

Acknowledging the Governor's appeal to Kwarans, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, March 23, 2021, "Finally, my profound appeal goes to all our leaders to prioritize communal peace and human brotherhood. We need to join hands to build a generation of future leaders who acknowledge and respect one another's differences. This is necessary to build a community of patriots and partners for a greater Kwara."

Maybe what we need to build Kwara State with Love, Tolerance, Empathy, Mutual Respect, but less of Skepticism, Loathe, or Sketching. Just may be if we spend more time in rationalizing the good intentions of others, our feel-good chemicals in our bodies, will allow us to see their pain and need for love.

We wished those who are blindly fighting for religious head-tie knew the implications of this, after the long-not to be recovered-times loss to COVID-19, on these innocent kids. While others barely forging ways ahead to get back to normal after COVID-19 has taken a lot from humanity. Hopefully, Kwarans would find lasting solutions to this quickly for the sake of Nigeria future leaders.

Let us maintain the Slogan "The State of Harmony", for permanent peace.