Governor Rauf Aregbesola wants to Islamise Osun – CAN

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The leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria, Osun State chapter, has accused Governor Rauf Aregbesola of attempting to perpetrate an Islamic agenda in the 22-year-old state. Secretary of the association, Rev. Michael Ajayi, speaks with TUNDE ODESOLA

What informed the allegation that Governor Rauf Aregbesola is perpetrating an Osun Islamisation agenda?

In 2012, there was an intelligence report of the agenda of the Governor of Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, to Islamise the state, which he vehemently refuted in his broadcast to the good people of Osun State. He said, “My good people of the State of Osun. As you may be aware, some reports in the advertorial sections of the media concerning our state and my person should give enough room for concern. There is a purported security report alleging that I am working towards Islamising Osun and plotting to secede from Nigeria. The first is patently false, while the second is laughable.”

The governor contended that his government had duly notified President Goodluck Jonathan of attempts by a security agency to implicate him over issues amounting to promotion of religious extremism and secession. Governor Aregbesola claimed that the allegation was the handiwork of an overzealous and misguided leadership of a security agency. We, the Christian community in Osun State, have followed the programmes, activities and pronouncements of Mr. Governor.  Since the judicial pronouncement that made him governor of our dear state, we have many reasons to believe the intelligence report of the governor’s agenda to islamise our dear state.

Can you expatiate?

The fixing of state functions for Sundays is an example. At the inception of his administration, Mr. Governor fixed state functions for 10am on Sundays and insisted that state functionaries should attend as a matter of duty – at a time when every Christian should be in church to worship God. The public hearing of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology ownership crisis is one example out of many. It took the intervention of the leaders of the Christian faith in the state to stop this trend.

Why did CAN object to the change of Osun State appellation from “State of the Living Spring,” to “State of the Virtuous?

We don’t know how they came about the name Living Spring. It could have been derived from the numerous rivers and springs in Osun State. But we are in a democracy; we should be told why the name was changed. The suspicion is that it might have been changed because as Christians, we believe that Jesus is the Living Spring. You can’t just change it to Ipinle Omoluabi without telling us; we need to know.

What’s your position on the controversy over the use of hijab by female Muslim students?

Our position is clear over the use of hijab. We are not saying that Muslim students should not wear hijab in Moslem schools. They have the right to wear it in Muslim schools. But it is wrong for them to wear it in Christian missionary schools. We, Christians, built our missionary schools and they still bear our names. The students still wear our uniforms and the schools are still on our premises. They are our legacies which we need to preserve. We don’t want the wearing of hijab in our schools.

We are hoping that in the future, government will return the schools to us as it has been done in Lagos, Anambra, and Cross River states. We don’t mind if hijab is worn in community schools but we don’t want the hijab in our own schools. For quite some time now, in fact, only a few months ago into the regime of Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, as Governor of the state, there has been increasing restiveness in the state occasioned by the insistence of some fundamentalists, with the backing of the state government, that Muslim students in all public schools in the state should be allowed to wear hijab as part of their uniforms in Moslem and Christian schools.

The agitation for the wearing of hijab by female students in Osun public schools preceded Governor Aregbesola’s regime. It occurred during the time of former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola and the issue was laid to rest by the issuance of a circular and a set of guidelines for administration and discipline in public schools by the state Ministry of Education in 2004. These documents permitted female students in Muslim public schools to wear hijab if they so desire but forbade the wearing of hijab in Christian public schools.

The problem reared its ugly head again late in 2010 when a female student of Methodist Grammar School, Iwo, dressed to school wearing hijab. The student was said to have been punished by her teacher for being wrongly dressed, and she, in return mobilised her Muslim brothers, who waylaid the teacher and beat her black and blue. Things nearly went awry in November 2012, in Iwo, when some Muslim students staged a protest insisting on the need to be allowed to wear hijab to public schools, including the ones owned by Christians. Government had to intervene to prevent a breakdown of law and order by closing down all public schools in the local government.

The agitation for the use of hijab got to a climax the same month when a female student of Baptist High School, Iwo, was arrested by the police on the order of the school authorities for daring to wear hijab to the school. The action of the school authorities infuriated Muslim organisations in the town and they waded into the matter, demanding the release of the student. They also mobilised Muslim students in Iwo the following day to insist that they should be allowed, as Muslim girls, to wear hijab to school irrespective of the school they attend.

What is the position of the National Interreligious Council, Osun State chapter, on this matter?

Since attaining peace was difficult, the state government directed the two religious bodies to forward a memorandum in which their positions would be enumerated. The government said this would guide it to issue a white paper on the matter. This was achieved by the resolution of the Osun State chapter of National Interreligious Council, which resolved that Muslim students should be allowed to wear hijab in Muslim schools but not within Christian schools. NIREC added that any female student in Christian public schools who wanted to wear hijab (to school) is free to seek transfer to a Muslim school, where this is permitted. We will, at the this juncture, like to place on record the refusal of the governor to officially inaugurate the state branch of NIREC because of the refusal of Muslim and Christian leaders to incorporate traditional religionists into the membership of NIREC.

What is your view on the declaration of Hijra by the state government?

To worsen the division between Christians and Muslims in the state, the governor, in an unprecedented move, declared a public holiday and committed state funds to celebrate Hijra, which he said is an equivalent of the Christian New Year celebration. Not even in Sokoto, the seat of the Caliphate, is Hijra declared as a public holiday. Since the inception of the administration of Governor Aregbesola, the Sultan of Sokoto has visited the state twice. The unprecedented romance of the Sultan with our dear state is highly suspicious especially considering the recent statement credited to the sultan asking for members of the faceless Boko Haram group to be given amnesty by the Federal Government.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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