Christians In Osun Kick Against Merger Of Schools By Aregbesola

THE PROTESTERS IN IWO, OSUN STATE YESTERDAY (PHOTO CREDIT: PUNCH)
THE PROTESTERS IN IWO, OSUN STATE YESTERDAY (PHOTO CREDIT: PUNCH)

The attempted merger of Muslim students wearing hijab (veil) with the Baptists High School in Iwo, Osun State, under the new education policy by the Rauf Aregbesola administration, has been resisted by Christians in the state, especially members of the Osun Baptists Conference.

Gov. Aregbesola last week inaugurated a new education policy in Osun also known as the 4-5-3 education system, which he said resulted in the re-classification and merger of public schools in the state to reflect the new education system.

The governor, who expressed concern over the protest, however, pleaded with the people to cooperate with the school restructuring policy, saying it was introduced as part of transformation of the education sector by his government.

But yesterday, aggrieved Christians with their Holy Bibles and Hymn books trooped to the Baptists High School as early as 7:30am and dislodged the students while preventing teachers from entering the school premises.

They argued that the merger if allowed to gain ground, would erase the Baptist heritage and that they would not allow hijab-wearing students in a school founded by Christian missionaries.

Despite the presence of heavily armed security operatives, the Christian protesters carried on peacefully insisting that they would not allow the merger to work.

Presiding minister for the 35 Baptist churches in Iwo land, Rev. Bayo Ademuyiwa, said the church had nothing against government’s attempt to equip schools in the state but that the church would not allow any attempt to erase its identity and heritage.

He said, “Our forefathers and missionaries sacrificed their lives, resources and everything to establish schools, reputable schools with morals and values and that is why the Baptists in Iwo land are here to protect our schools.

“Without any doubt, the Baptists in the state are known for excellence, decorum and dignity. These virtues are highly cherished by the Nigerian Baptist Convention and this is the reason why the Baptists are making these two submissions which are, ‘Baptists in Iwo land say no to merger of schools and Baptists in Iwo land say no to the use of hijab in Baptists schools.

“While we welcome genuine efforts to provide modern infrastructures and equipments in schools in Osun State, the Baptists see merger of schools as a step in the wrong direction as it will rob us of our identity and bring more pains to parents and students.”

Speaking in the same vein, Chairman, Osun State Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Elisha Ogundiya, stated that CAN would not allow any policy to erase the legacy of the Church.

Ogundiya said, “We have maintained this stand from inception and we will continue to defend lawfully what belong to us as Christians in the state.”

“As a major stakeholder in the state, the leadership of CAN expects the state government to invite us to discuss this issue without delay. We wish to explain it clearly that at no time did the new leadership of CAN in Osun held any meeting with the state government on the issue of merger of schools.”

However, Gov. Aregbesola, in a statement by his media aide, Semiu Okanlawon, allayed the concerns of all groups, organisations, religious and social bodies in the state, saying their interests would be protected in the ongoing re-classification and reform.

He pleaded with people of the state to disregard and dismiss “any untrue and baseless insinuation” critics of the government might be spreading across the state.

-PUNCH

9 Comments

  • Why must it always be christains school that they always want to convert to government public schools?. Why won’t they convert their islamic schools to government owned public schools? We must put an end to this.

  • Boko Haram is gradually coming to dwell among the Yorubas. Hw could any1 thought of merging light & darkness. It is nt possible, this is insanity in highest order. Aregbesola nid to have his head examine. They should convert to xtians & stop using their hijab.

  • Its an unacceptable! I do not understand what the incumbent Governor is trying to establish in the State……….& i want to use this opportunity tells the Governor not to trigger the gun of War in the State & between the Christians & the Muslims………

  • As a baptist member,christianity discipline is our
    opium.We cannot tolerate incoherent merger based
    on the ground of our rigid constitution.If we allow
    this,reverend Bowen will not be happy in heaven.

  • While still basking in the euphoria of my recent admission into the Nigerian Law School for the next academic session, I woke up to read the Tuesday, October 8, 2013 edition of The PUNCH and to my utter consternation, I was succinctly captivated by the cover page story with a headline that reads, “Christians protest merger of schools by Aregbesola”.

    Reading through the position of the protesters under the aegis of Osun Baptist Conference and the effort of the Osun State Government to douse the “tension” made me feel very sorry for our existence as a nation and our inability to see any good in our diversity as a people living together under the name Nigeria.

    Religion like ethnicity is a real problem in Nigeria simply because we the people wanted it to be and it has remained a constant factor for the myriad of challenges facing us. We have deliberately decided to attack one another when there are absolutely no reasons to. And where there are reasons, we are ultimately blindfolded by our imaginative thought with a “This religion wants to dominate us” syndrome. The animosity has eaten deep into our fabric so much so that government policies which are hitherto geared towards the betterment of all are immediately seen as an attempt to “Christianise” or “Islamise” the polity. And as followers, we are so immersed in the quagmire of religious insensitivity so much so that extrication may force an innocent mind to think we cannot live together as one nation under God.

    I have argued several times that there should be a separation between the Church (Mosque) and the State. A mixture of both is a beautiful recipe for disaster in public policymaking and reaction to such a policy. We must learn as a nation to separate religious matters from core public interests especially in matters of education. It is very important for our religious fathers and leaders to be dispassionate when it comes to matters of equal benefit for all.

    The missionaries may have founded many of these schools but as of today, they are funded and regulated by government and its agencies on education. It suffices to conclude that while they appear to bear Muslim or Christian names, their religious inclination does not go beyond the name. It is illogical, insensible and a flagrant disregard of the fundamental human rights as guaranteed by the 1999 constitution (as amended) for any Christian group to deny a Muslim kid the opportunity to attend a Christian named government school simply because she uses a Hijab. Conversely, it is repugnant to the doctrine of natural justice, equity and good conscience for any Muslim group to seek to deny any Christian child the chance to seek for public education as guaranteed by the law in a Muslim named government school for the unreasonable reason that she has refused to use a Hijab or cover her head. We should not reduce our public schools to grounds of intolerance and hatred.

    I attended Ansar-ud-Deen Primary School and I was very privileged to have many Christian friends (girls as of then) who never covered their heads and were never chastised as to why they did not. We sat side by side in class, played, joked, ate, drank, fought, studied and learnt together like all children would do. It was at Ansar-ud-Deen I learnt “The Lord’s Prayer” and “The Grace” and till date, I still can recite them in eloquent manner despite being a devout Muslim. We offered both Islamic Religious Knowledge and Christian Religious Knowledge (BK as it was fondly called then) as it was compulsory for all. The general theme of both subjects as we were taught was to inculcate in us the virtues of being good, spirit of brotherhood, neighbourliness, love and respect for differences. We underwent examinations on CRK likewise my colleagues as they did on IRK. I grew up to understand the Christian faith, respect and appreciate the differences. With my friends, we never cared if A was a Christian or a Muslim; we simply enjoyed our friendship and moved on.

    Getting to Lagos State University to study Law offered another perfect example. In my 100-level days, it was compulsory for all students to offer Islamic Law irrespective of your religious inclinations. In a class of over 350 students with more than 150 Christians, we all offered Islamic Law in a very interesting and competitive atmosphere. It was a beauty to see Christian and Muslim Law students “argue”, share and compare knowledge on the verses of the Quran and Hadith taught in class. My Christian friends quoted verses of the Quran and argued with eloquence and precision during tutorial classes. We were not surprised to that when the results were released the ratio of high marks revealed that Christians had better ratios than Muslims. To add to the beauty, the lecturer-in-charge happened to be a very conscious Muslim and a one-time leader of Muslims during his time on campus. We all laughed and joked about the result simply because we knew everyone merited the scores they got.

    These are the virtues we grew up with. We learnt that in advancing the course of humanity, we only needed to appreciate the difference, learn and respect one another’s belief in an atmosphere filled with love and certainly not the one being promoted in the Nigeria of today by a Muslim towards a Christian and a Christian towards anything that has to do with Muslims. Our country cannot make any meaningful progress if we refuse to eschew this dangerous intolerance and lack of understanding we are deliberately brewing up every now and then.

    Private schools funded from private purses can continue to promote individual religions as they deem fit but government schools should be a platform of togetherness of all faiths in order to appreciate the differences and promote inter-faith relations. After all, government schools irrespective of the names they bear, are funded by taxpayers who are both Christians and Muslims.

    We owe the kids of today the duty to teach them how to defend, love and respect one another across all ethnic and religious divides after all we are all Nigerians. The government as a matter of urgency should call for dialogue between themselves on the one hand and the Christian/Muslim leaders on the other hand on the reason, to discuss the benefits of the policy and how they intend to keep the “beliefs’ of each founder in line with public policy as it demands.

    Our diversity should be a blessing geared towards developmental strides for our nation and not a reason for disintegration. May God bless all our children and make them great personalities for the benefit of Nigeria and humanity as a whole.

    •Abdul-Aziz is a prospective Law student at the Nigerian Law School

  • Abdulaziz or what ever you call yourself,it does not work that way.lets leave religious sentiments aside.Nobody is stopping muslim from attending any school.The problem here is the dress code which the muslims will default.The dress code is a means of inclucating discuipline and a form of identity.as a lawyer,do u female learnerd fellow use hijab on her uniform?we have alfas in the military and police,do they keep dirty bairs?do they use jumping/rioting trousers?lets face the reality.Has NYSC introduced HiJAB to uniform!the answer is No.so,y the shenanigans?lets b realistic with oursefs,u cannot plant mosque of baptist land hijacked by government.that is stupid and out of proportion as it means u want to actualize the agenda of usman danfodio and saudana @ all means whom charged u muslims to come and dominate light.I think we should all go back to status quo and leave the schools apart and religion sentiments apart.If we can use HIJAB in military,then fine.i concore.finally,answer me @ abdulaziz,y didnt usman danfodio bring western education wen he was coming,hospital/health,electricity e.t.c.all he brought was strife and u people and continued to tow than line

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