From Timothy Agbor, Osogbo
The Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on Monday said that his government neither approved nor disapproved of the use of hijab in any school.
The Governor while making his remarks at the peace meeting between the Muslim and Christian communities at the Baptist High School in Iwo and the distribution and assessment of the performance of Opon Imo, noted that it is the court’s position that the status quo ante be maintained until the case is determined.
Aregbesola stressed that his government being a product of rule of law is guided in all its actions in strict adherence to the principles of the rule of law in the state.
According to the Governor, “We are a product of the rule of law and this has guided all our actions. As we have said in the past, we have not approved the use of hijab in any school. Let me repeat this again for the hearing of mischief-makers who have been working tirelessly to bring religious war to our state.
“Those prompting chaos and conflagration in our state; those who have well established antecedent of violent behaviour; those sowing the seed of discord in our schools and community and inciting one religion against another, as we have said in the past, government did not at any time approve the use of hijab in any school, before the matter went to court. It is the court’s position that the status quo ante be maintained until the case is determined”..
He pointed out that government has set up a committee on discipline in public schools and when the report is out government shall begin to enforce discipline in all schools.
Aregbesola added that the future his administration is preparing for students has no place for unruly and undisciplined persons.
Aregbesola stated further that, “Yoruba people have a tradition of accommodation and inclusion; that is why our families are interwoven around all religions.
“Some people, goaded from hell, however, are working to break our bond of unity by beating the drum of religious war. They will fail and only they and their families will dance to that evil beat”.
The state Deputy Governor, Iyaafin Grace Titilayo-Tomori, who doubles as the state Commissioner for Education speaking earlier held that peace is a necessary catalyst of learning.
She said, “Peace must be a permanent feature not only in our schools but every facets of the state. So, where there is pocket of disturbances, government will respond swiftly in restoring peace and order. This is what has been demonstrated at the peace meeting held at Baptist High school premises”.
Speaking earlier, representatives of the three religions lamented that things that are ordinarily unconnected with learning and knowledge have now been constituting impediments to students’ progress in their studies.
They stated that none of them supported the unconventional ways students have been dressing to school.
Rev Bayo Ademuyiwa, who spoke on behalf of the Christians said, “We are in support of programmes and policies of government on education since the last three years. We also express our disappointment over the crisis playing out in Baptist High School for sometimes. We want to tell the government that we are lovers of peace and we abhor disunity.”
Alhaji Idris Magaji, who spoke on behalf of Muslim parents, said the three religions have the responsibility to fight against indecent dressing and promote love and unity among all students regardless of their faiths.
“We are a peace loving people. And we are proud of the many innovations in the education sector of the current administration. We must not allow agents of destablisation to deprive our children the quality education for which the current administration has been working,” Magaji said.
Mr. Ifawole Anifalaje, who also spoke on behalf of the traditional religious worshippers, prayed that peace reigned in the community and that the vision of the present administration for quality education be realized.
“We don’t have problem with any faith. What we also want is the progress of our children. We were never part of the plan to make any masquerade to come to Baptist High School. Some other people looking for trouble must have instigated the coming of a masquerade to the school compound,” he said.
Two students of the school: Aremu Olukayode and Bashir Mutiyat who spoke on behalf of the students, thanked the government for the various educational projects such as Opon Imo, new schools and furniture and recruitment of new teachers.
It was a tumultuous reception for Governor Aregbesola as he arrived at the premises of the Baptist High School, which had been the centre of protests among students over the use of hijab, the Muslim scarfs for covering female heads.
Aregbesola, who dressed in the uniform of a High School student (Brown trouser and a shirt with a school cap) stirred the students as they gathered around him at the school premises.