From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Catholic Archbishop of Ibadan Metropolitan Archdiocese, Most Rev’d Gabriel Abegunrin, has said the Kwara State governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, is playing with fire that may engulf the whole of Nigeria with the way he has been handling the hijab crisis in Christian schools in the state.
In an interview with journalists after the Mass of Chrism for Holy Thursday, held at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Oke Padre, Ibadan, Oyo State on Thursday, he raised the alarm that if the matter is not handled with utmost caution, might be the beginning of religious war in the country.
According to him, “What concerns me seriously now and should concern all of us is the issue of hijab in Kwara State. Actually, the governor of Kwara State is playing with fire. He wants Nigeria to catch fire through Kwara State. It will not be good. So, if he listens to people or what people are saying around, he should just let go and let Christians keep their schools and let Muslims take their schools, let the public ones that are owned by the government be there.
“The Chief Imam of Ilorin, was speaking sense with another person. He said if ‘you know that you want your children to wear hijab, send your children to Muslim schools.’ The Chief Imam said that. Then, he was asked what could be done to resolve the hijab issue. The Chief Imam answered again, saying ‘What else can I say? The only thing remains with the governor to choose what he wants to do.’ The Chief Imam said that but for him, what they are fighting for is wrong because Christians have a right to keep their schools without hijab. The Chief Imam of Ilorin said that. I listened to him on television.
“The problem is that the governor is playing too much politics on this issue of hijab. If it starts in Ilorin, it may spread. If you are not careful, it may be the beginning of religious war again. I pray it doesn’t happen. But if he continues with the way he is going, people are going to get ready to see. It is as simple as that. We don’t preach violence. We don’t like violence. But when you push people to the wall, what happens?
“They sent some people to go and break doors of schools, gates of schools with hammers and other weapons. They broke the chains, the padlocks. Do you know what that means? The children are watching. They are teaching those children how to break through whatever they cannot enter, even break through people’s houses. They don’t know what they are doing. They are teaching these young ones the wrong thing to do when it is difficult for them. They are teaching them to break houses.
“So, we have to be mindful of what we are showing to the young ones. Already, we don’t have a good number of adults now to mentor the young ones, and that is what we are saying that the governor should open his mouth and say something good, not backing any religion. Religion is not attached to any government. Let those in government practice their religion and those they are governing should also be allowed to practice their own religion. Don’t lord one over the other. But it is difficult for them to hear.”