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Aregbesola adds to ongoing religious madness in Osun schools

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Rauf Aregbesola: Imam in  Governor Hijab?
Rauf Aregbesola: Imam in Governor Hijab?

Rather than bring about a sane political solution to the religious trouble brewing in his state, Osun Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, has reacted to the ongoing hijab controversy in the state by threatening that any student found disobeying school rules and regulations risks expulsion. His threat is directed at Christian students who now wear church garments to school, but not at hijab wearing Muslim girls.

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As widely reported in major Nigerian newspapers, Aregbesola’s threat came on June 14 as students of Baptist High School, Iwo and Salvation Army Middle School, Alekuwodo wore choir robes and other church garments to school in protest against the use of hijab by female Muslim students.

Prompted by the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), students in such religious garments started arriving school around 8.30am with their guardian present to ensure none of them was turned back. CAN had last week warned that Christian students in public schools will start wearing church garments to school if Aregbesola implements a judgment by the Osun State High Court legalising the use of hijab by Muslim students.

“Where the Osun State Government is inclined to implementing the judgment Christian students in all public schools founded by Christians with the toil and sweat of our forefathers in the faith will have no choice but to start wearing Christian garments and vestments as part of their school uniform for the propagation of our own faith given the Justice Saka Oyejide Falola declared right of Muslim Female students to do same as what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as well,” a statement released Friday by CAN chairman, Elisha Ogundiya, said.

It advised that “adherents of other faiths who have their choice to make in this matter can wear theirs as well.”

Speaking while commissioning the ultra-modern St Michael’s RCM Government Middle School, Ibokun, Aregbesola said all aggrieved parties in the court judgement over hijab should channel their grievances according to the rule of law and not resort to self help.

He distanced his administration from the court judgement that allowed female Muslim students to wear hijab to school, saying the judiciary is an independent arm of government, the decisions of which are not subject to any influence by other arms of government.

Aregbesola stated that there are other legal options opened to any party who feels strongly about the judgement, adding that appeal is the best option in this situation.

He said: “It is funny for some people to insinuate that government has a hand in the judgement. The government is a democracy, not a theocracy.‎ Any student found disobeying school rule and regulation risk expulsion from our schools.”

Aregbesola said 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.

“The government therefore 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,” he said.

Head of Catholic Bloc in the Iwo unit of CAN, Paul Olagoke, blamed the crisis on the merger of schools in the state.

“We told the government before the school merger that we did not want Christian schools to be merged with other schools to avoid this kind of situation. We are determined to make sure that Christianity is not eradicated in the schools established with the sweat of our forefathers in the faith,” Olagoke said.

Still it all boils down to Muslims using state apparatus – executive and legislative power – to spread Islam upon the State of Osun and by extension Nigeria, to the strangulation of Christianity. CAN needs to go to court. Christian parents need to go to court in Osun State. Well meaning Christians in Osun should fight for the religious freedom of their children and themselves. Until this hijab matter is determined by the Supreme Court and hopefully thrown out the door, Christians can’t stop praying. Nigeria must be freed of this brewing religious epidemic.



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