The Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, on Monday, June 20, 2016, disclosed that neither his goverrnment nor himself has ever ordered the use of Hijab by female Muslim students in public schools in the state.
Aregbesola stated this at the roundtable on Development Collaborative Framework for Education Development and Advancement organised by the Development and Advancement in Western Nigeria (DAWN) in Osogbo.
Aregbesola challenged openly those who accused him of ordering the use of Hijab by Muslims to bring concrete prove to substantiate their mischievous claims.
The Governor challenged those accusing him of plunging the state into religious crisis to the present a video or voice recording, written speech evidencing where he commanded or ordered female Muslim students to wear Hijab on their uniform.
He averred that all programmes introduced into the state’s education rebranding are the resolutions that came out of the education summit organised by his administration shortly after coming into office.
Aregbesola noted that the resolution of the summit, headed by Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, never considered nor recommended any religion.
Speaking on education in the West, the Governor noted that the downward trend in education should be worrisome due to the role of education in development and bringing enlightenment to the human mind, platform for leadership recruitment and the means for character building and good citizenship.
The Governor stated that when he came to government, the first task of his administration was to convene an education summit which was chaired by Prof Wole Soyinka, adding that all intervention of government in education since inception came from the recommendations of the summit and nothing about religion.
According to him,”There is nothing religious in any of our policies. The fact on ground contradicts our opposition’s claim. The choice of my deputy governor tells it all, I knew she is a pentecotalist of the highest order before I picked her. Everything we have done in the line of education is in line with the resolution of our education summit.
“Against all speculations, I have not ordered the use of Hijab, I challenge anybody with evidence to come out and show that I have made a proclamation on Hijab.
“If I have permitted Hijab will the muslim have gone to court to challenge it, is that not contradictory?. Is it a crime that I am a Muslim, is it because I struggle to be a good Muslim that everything I do is being misunderstood?. I think I don’t deserve all these lies against me”.
The Governor told participants that his administration is constructing state-of-the art 100 elementary schools, 50 middle schools and 20 high schools in addition to rehabilitating the existing ones.
He added that the schools in the state before his intervention would have attracted rebuke from animal rights activists if government has put pigs there.
The Governor on Osun school feeding programme tagged O-MEALS noted that the programme has provided the template for national adoption and implementation of free meals in schools, adding that he was invited by the British Parliament twice to share Osun’s experience with the world.
He held that his administration’s efforts and intervention in education has been massive and that there has been qualitative and quantitative improvement in the performance of pupils and general education of youths.
He said, “Those who say we are declining are not being honest. The following data will put a lie to the unfounded allegation of our detractors that the performance of pupils has gone down under our watch. In 2007, the state government put forward 36,171 candidates for WAEC examination out of which 2,483 representing 6.86 per cent had credit pass in five subjects, including English and Mathematics.
“In 2008, it was 37,715 candidates with 3,813 pass, representing 10.11 per cent. In 2009 it was 39,676 candidates, with 5,545 pass, representing 13.98 per cent. In 2010 it was 43,216 candidates, with 6,777 pass, representing 15.68 per cent. This four years gave us an average of 15.68 per cent.
“However, our administration started sponsoring candidates for WAEC in 2011. That year, we fielded 53,293 candidates, had 11672 pass, representing 21.98 per cent. In 2012, we fielded 51,463 out of which 11,431 passed, representing 22.21 per cent. In 2013, we also fielded 47,013 candidates, recorded 9,301 pass, representing 19.78 per cent.
“In 2014, we sponsored 47,672 candidates, 9316 of them passed, representing 19.54 per cent. The average performance for our first four years was 20.88 per cent. Compared with the average performance (13.26 per cent) of the three years that preceded us, the percentage improvement in performance during our tenure is a huge 57.46 per cent”.
Earlier, the state Deputy Governor, Mrs. Titi Laoye- Tomori described the gathering as one that will help restore the lost glory of the South-west educational sector.
She stated that time has come for all and sundry to stamp-out all impediment and turn around the education sector not only in the western region but in the whole country.
The Deputy Governor identified education as the only mechanism that will salvage the nation from its present socio-economic, political and educational challenges, advocating that collective participation and regional integration among the various governments will lead southwest out of its present challenges.
She disclosed that the state under the leadership of Governor Aregbesola has successfully implemented pro-masses policies that have contributed and impacted greatly in the lives of the citizenry especially the young ones.
Laoye-Tomori said, “I am very happy that this round table meeting would in no doubt improve the qualitative and quantitative performances in education sector of our region as it seek to arrest the apparent decadence and rot in our education.
“Though it is unfortunate that education in the country seems to be on decline but as a matter of fact, we must muster efforts to strengthen the superior legacy which we are known for.
“Governments at various capacities must come together to bailout the nation from the present deplorable state of education in the country”.