As the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Kwara Chapter, insists that it would not allow female Muslim children to wear hijab in its schools, the Nigerian Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has told the state government to be assertive and to ‘possess your possession’.
MURIC spoke in a press statement issued on Monday 8th March, 2021 by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
MURIC said, “The situation in Kwara State calls for sober reflection. Here is a religious group, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), that is determined to use its schools to strip innocent Muslim girls naked in public, deprive them of their right to education and change their identity and their destiny forever. It is most unaccommodating and uncharitable. It is child abuse. It is unacceptable. CAN Kwara chapter is not ready to be his brother’s keeper.
“We call on the Kwara State Government (KWSG) to protect these young girls. They are in their impressionable age when anything inculcated in them sinks into their medulla oblongata, never to be forgotten or abandoned. They will never get used to using hijab again if they are stopped from using hijab either at junior or senior secondary school level. It will be hard for them to go back to it when they get to universities and polytechnics because they are already used to exposing their heads.
“This is the game CAN is playing. ‘Catch them young’ is a well-known gimmick of indoctrination in any society. But it becomes selfish and immoral when it is aimed at the children of other groups. CAN should shift its attention to Christian children and leave Muslim children alone. CAN is free to instruct Christian children to use backless, topless, tight-fitting, body-gripping body hugs and ‘dress-to-kill’ school uniforms capable of preparing girls for beauty pageants in future.
“KWSG must not allow a situation where one religion disallows another from fully practising and ‘manifesting’. We are constrained to expose the motive of CAN for establishing schools, namely, to lure Muslim children into spiritual slavery. This explains why Muslims who sought admission into mission schools in the past were either forced to convert to Christianity or rejected.
“The wind has blown and we have seen the ruff of the hen. Now that it has become glaring that Christians establish schools for the purpose of entrapping Muslim children, KWSG and other state governments in the South West must be ready to build new schools to create more space for Muslims who may opt out of the so-called missionary schools. That is the solution. Christian leaders have taught us a bitter lesson. Never again shall we kowtow to CAN’s pooh-pooh.
“KWSG and other states in the South West must stop abdicating their responsibilities. Education is the right of every child and the state governments must show special interest in the girl child. More schools (where there will be freedom of religion) must be built by the government in order to accommodate Muslim girls.
“Kwara state which was established in 1967 has been identified by the National Bureau of Statistics as one of the poorest states in Nigeria (the rest are Jigawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Bauchi and Yobe). While education has been identified by experts as the panacea to poverty and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recommended 26% of state revenue for education, we find successive administrations in Kwara State voting a paltry 10% of the total revenue to secondary education while 13% goes to the tertiary sector (file:///C:/Users/PROF%20ISHAQ%20AKINTOLA/Downloads/240%20file%20Kwara%20Annual%20Education%20Sector%20Performance%20Report%202010.pdf;file:///C:/Users/PROF%20ISHAQ%20AKINTOLA/Downloads/15%20file%201247817692%20kwara_education.pdf).
“It therefore behoves KWSG in particular, and all states in the South West in general to up their games in the area of education. In reality, the solution to the hijab controversy is for state governments to build more schools that no religious organisation can lay any claim to, either rightly or wrongly, legitimately or illegally.
“Give us more schools. KWSG should build more schools. Muslim girls need more space to breathe. CAN is strangulating us. We can’t breathe. KWSG must not wait until our daughters go the way of Eric Garner (the black man who was killed extra-judicially by US police in 2014). Muslims are tax payers and we are the majority in Kwara State. Use our tax money to build more schools for us.
“This also brings up the question: ‘Who owns Kwara schools?’ We do not need to search for answers to this question. Schools in Kwara State were handed over to the state government 45 years ago. Meanwhile CAN lost the legal battle in its attempt to reclaim the schools at the Ilorin High Court in 2016 and at the Court of Appeal in 2019. To that extent, therefore, the idea of missionary schools belonging to Christians or Muslims is highly misleading. It doesn’t exist anymore. It is sheer sham, a mirage, a phantom.
“Even the land on which the Christian missionaries build the schools were given pro bono by Muslim parents without taking a dime from them, simply because they claimed the Schools would be for all. It is a betrayal of trust for the same missionaries to start using the schools to persecute Muslim children.
“To the government of Kwara State, we say the time is ripe for you to be assertive and proactive particularly in the education sector. All schools belong to the state government by virtue of declarations of courts of competent jurisdiction. Therefore possess your possession.
“The education of the people is one of the primary responsibilities of government. A minority section of the people cannot be allowed to enslave the majority. Such a situation can only bring anarchy. The Kwara State Government must assert its right to control the education sector. Besides, who pays the teachers’ salaries? Who funds the schools? How can the state government pay the piper but it is not allowed to dictate the tune? Government must not operate on a weak pedestal. CAN is grandstanding. Possess your possession.
“Our message to CAN is this: Your schools are slave camps. They are traps set up by you to enslave Muslim children. They have become archaic and unwanted burdens. Your motive for establishing schools is not to educate or to free the people from ignorance and disease but to put them in chains of false, demagogic, gymnastic and articulated religiousity. Your motive is to change the identity of the Muslim child. You are nothing but slave drivers. But the wind of emancipation is blowing. Freedom train is here in Kwara State. Allow Muslim children to embark on it. Let the Muslims go!”