CROSSFIRE: Oyedepo, Akintola clash over Kwara Hijab crisis

Presiding Bishop, Living Faith Church Worldwide, David Oyedepo, and the Director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola, have reacted to the hijab crisis in Kwara State, bickering on the right of female Muslim students to adorn the head gear as part of their school uniform.

Recall that the state government had closed 10 schools over their refusal to allow Muslim female students to wear hijab as part of their school uniform.

While Oyedepo who threw his weight behind the refusal of authorities of the school to allow the use of Hijab described the development as a “nasty development,” Akintola insisted that the schools are public schools being funded by tax payer’s money and it is the constitutional rights of willing female Muslim student to wear Hijab to them.

Here are the read-them-yourself statements from the two religious leaders

Crisis a nasty development – Oyedepo

Presiding Bishop, Living Faith Church Worldwide, David Oyedepo, has reacted to the hijab crisis in Kwara State, describing it as a “nasty development.”

The refusal came from Christian organisations who say they will never allow such in the schools built by missionaries and handed to them.

They also demand that the schools, which have been government grant-aided since 1974, should be returned to them.
Reacting to the development, Oyedepo advised against troubling schools in the state that don’t want to permit the use of hijab.

He advised that those who want to wear hijab should go to schools where such is permitted.

He said; “It is such a nasty development in Kwara State where Muslims are asking their students in our schools to wear Hijab, and the church said “no”

”You know the reason why? We have never shown the world the other side of God. God is not a toy, let us show them the consuming fire part of God. They need to know.

”Leave the schools for the owner, go to your schools. Is there any fight? Stop putting fingers in the eyes of others, the world should be warned against the church. The church is a time bomb.
”When God turns his back on anyone or any system, that system is cursed. My advice is leave the schools for the owners, find your schools. Men and women can wear hijab there. Stop putting your fingers in the eyes of others when they are not blind.” Punch
CAN, others referring to Kwara schools as ‘our schools’ living self-denial -Professor Ishaq Akintola

A statement issued by Akintola sent to Platforms Africa reads; “CAN is not talking about morality, legality and justice in its opposition to the bill. CAN is not interested in whether it is right or wrong. The only thing CAN is interested in is to impose its own whims and caprices on the lawmakers by threatening fire and brimstone. Imagine CAN’s words, ‘We are not against the wearing of hijab in public and Islamic schools but our schools should not be included unless those states are looking for trouble’.

“CAN refers to missionary schools, which were taken over by the Gowon decree of 1974 as ‘our schools’. That is a misnomer. Those schools ceased to be missionary schools a long time ago. CAN will therefore be living in self-denial if it continues to refer to them as ‘our schools’. These are schools being fully funded by the government. Teachers’ appointments, promotion, salaries, entitlements, etc are in the hands of government. Is there any doubt about who owns the schools? It should be noted that both the Christians and Muslims were fully compensated when government took over their schools.

“We note the use of the highly combustible word ‘trouble’ at the end of CAN’s sentence. Why must it be about ‘trouble’? Why not about the law? Why not about fairness? Why not about equity? Why not about justice? CAN is trying to scare the lawmakers. Its statement is full of threats.

But we are not bothered. The process must take its due course. This is about law-making and the honourable members are not morons. They know what the bill means from the point of law and within the context of the Nigerian constitution. They have also been following events around the country and even outside the shores of Nigeria.

“The job of the people’s representatives is to enact laws that will liberate the citizens, laws that will break the shackle of oppression, laws that will neutralise tyrants, laws that will spell out the rights of the proletariat to the chagrin of the bullying capitalist compradore bourgeoisie.

“CAN said the bill is ‘ill-timed’. How can a bill seeking freedom from oppression be ill-timed? Every day is the day of freedom. Every moment is the moment of liberty. It is only the 21st century disciples of Pieter Willem Botha and F. W. de Klerk who remain ideologues of ‘No freedom today’. Those who postpone the day of liberty live to crane their necks from the narrow confines of their bedroom windows as liberty train cruises by.

“CAN said the bill is uncalled for. They can say that to the marines. The cruel treatment of female Muslim students by Christian teachers over hijab called for the bill. The expulsion of Muslim students in the International School of the University of Ibadan called for it. The expulsion of Miss Aisha Abdul Aleem from a secondary school in Abeokuta called for it. The refusal to allow Amasa Firdaus to be called to bar in the first instance called for it. Nay, this bill is not only called, it is also chosen.

“The world is changing but CAN is averse to change. Democracy has gone digital but CAN still sees it with analogue eyes. Even colonialist Britain recognised the need to let people go. It granted independence to countries within its empire decades ago. Today Britain allows hijab in its schools. Go to Britain and see freedom. American schools allow hijab. Canada, Latin America and the rest of Europe have seen the light. Baptist College in Australia changed its school uniform to accommodate hijab-wearing students in 2019.

“But here in Nigeria, CAN, an ultra-conservative body, wants to drag Nigerians back into darkness after we have seen the light. It had better not be. CAN is the most conservative and reactionary organisation in Nigeria today. CAN is neck deep in gymnastic religiousity. The hijab bill must go ahead. The people’s representatives must boldly march forward. Distinguished reps must not allow CAN to scare this honourable House.

“Besides, this bill is not about hijab wearing alone. It is about freedom from all sorts of discrimination in workplaces and all public spaces. For instance, it will free a poor man from harassment if he enters a five star hotel or empower him to sue anyone who attempts to embarrass him. A female worker will be able to cite it if she is discriminated against on account of her being a female.

“This is freedom bill. It is the people’s bill but CAN wants to kill it. It is not only for religion or hijab. It is about the people’s fundamental human rights. Honourable members must not allow our oppressor to have his way. We seek the protection of the distinguished members of the House from the tyranny of CAN.

“Fortunately we are not in a military dispensation where CAN can just use its influence anyhow. This is a democracy for crying out loud. Nigerian Muslims are entitled to the dividends of democracy and sponsorship of bills in the legislature is one of the dividends of democracy. In fact it is a major landmark.

“It is the selfish wish of CAN to monopolise everything, including legislation. If it were possible, CAN would turn back the hands of the clock and take Nigeria back to apartheid South Africa where ‘Dogs and blacks not allowed’ to enter certain clubs, swinmming pools, etc, except that CAN would replace the word ‘blacks’ with ‘Muslims’.

“MURIC therefore urges honourable members of the House to ignore CAN’s rantings and go ahead with the freedom from discrimination bill. We charge lawmakers to resist CAN’s intimidation and coercion. This is the time for lawmakers to stand up for justice, truth and righteousness.

“Nigerians are yearning for freedom. The poor masses are working under severe conditions particularly in expartriate companies. They are suffering and they are looking up to their representatives for liberation. Extant laws are not enough to set them free. This bill is exactly what they need to emancipate them from tyranny, oppression and persecution. CAN is a distraction. Go ahead and do the job for which you were elected. Set the people free.

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