Religion is not bad at all. Indeed it has helped mankind in diverse forms for centuries running. What has tended to give it a bad name is the use to which some put it. Fighting and insisting that God needs the help of man to be God has been one of such bad acts. In fact just as I just mentioned, it has been the source of many modern conflicts across the world. A new religious war is brewing in Kwara State and like the ostrich would do, we are burying our heads in the sand with the body out in the open, yet pretending we are hidden from outsider view.
What is the source of the new trouble? A government that is yet to fully grapple even with routine state functions found time to resurrect an old rule dealing with the take over and later hand over of schools in the state and then suddenly realized that the government financially does assist some schools and if that is the case it has a right to dictate somethings it wished into the operations of such schools. Government take off point was to take a look at Christian schools and come up with the decision that Muslim students in such schools should be allowed to wear a Muslim dress code called the hijab. The implementation few weeks ago became the source of a nasty fight between the predominant Christian students in those schools and the few Muslim ones.
Muslims in hijab were stopped from gaining entry into Christian schools and they responded by throwing stones. We learnt that sympathetic parties from outside joined the conflict. The consequence now is that for days running social tension has gripped a state many say is known for peace and tranquility. The matter is gaining national attention following stern warnings from various Christian associations over possible escalation of the conflict if not properly handled and on time. It is understood that the issue of hijab in Christian schools has been a long one and it a matter still in the court of law. The state government became so impatient it couldn’t wait for judicial verdict on the matter.
Such matters ought not to engage the attention of government if we were a society desirous of great development. Such routine matters are administrative and should remain within the powers of school board and management to adequately handle. Schools handle matters of uniform and families that want to enrol their wards into particular schools know what to expect beforehand. The resolve to pursue admission there invariably means one has accepted to abide by rules and regulations guiding operations in those settings.
The nature of the issue in Kwara State offers biggest reason the state government ought to have demonstrated highest degree of circumspection. Officials of government especially those superintending affairs in education ought to be aware that their state is a multi-religious enclave with Christianity and Islam, with our two main faiths deeply entrenched in the state. So, any issue of religion ought to be treated with highest level of caution. Muslim clothing in a Baptist secondary school is a big abnormality. It is an ugly sight to behold just as it would be seeing Christian robe with big cross in red in an Ansarudeen school. These are things even by ordinary standards we know won’t add up.
In this particular case in Kwara, everything from conception to hasty execution is absurd. Christian or Muslim can be cross bred in makeup but those who chose to cross the boundary of faith must have made up their minds beforehand to subscribe to the sub-religious culture of where they are going. Forcing Islamic apparel in a Christian school like Bishop David Oyedepo already observed is akin to poking one’s hands in the eyes of another. It is a ridiculous situation of that of a tenant giving conditions to a landlord, a very terrible thing if one is to make a deduction. Nothing wrong in moving those bent on wearing Hijab to Muslim schools or establishing many of such schools where none exist currently.
Good thing that the governor has said the controversy would be rested on the most reasonable terms very soon. That soon should be today. Even the case in court should be withdrawn forthwith. If it is about government assistance in the interest of the our young ones, it should remain but if government thinks it can’t continue it should hands off.
If truth be told we should be ashamed of giving so much attention to religion. Yes, religion is very vital but it should remain an individual affair. If our governments should come in, it could in the nature of what Saudi Arabia and Israel use religion to do for their economies. They build religious sites and encourage religious tourism. Nigeria is centre of religious revival for the world, we can turn our society to where the world can come to seek spiritual healing just working with religious leaders with clout beyond our shores. More than this, our focus should be on science, research and development.
Kwara State government and others that are always tempted to behave like Kwara is now doing must know they do more harm to our society, when they choose to tread the path of infamy. No one group has monopoly of acting stupid and no government has right to ride roughshod over her citizens. It must listen and align with the heartbeat of governed. Certainly it can’t be the wish of the majority of Kwara people to start a conflagration of any kind in that state. Not at all. We are in an era of calling a spade by its right name. Muslim groups have been on the forefront of igniting conflicts and the trend has continued because the Christians are hooked on to the doctrine of turning the other cheek, but things are changing. Not many young ones believe the doctrine is right or tenable, so retaliation smells heavily in the air.
While as leaders I advise that we have a responsibility to nip things in bud by doing away with irresponsible acts. I also state that the words of Martin Luther King appear sensible, and what did he say: “Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.” Very instructive words if you ask me.