A MINISTER'S BIGOTED AGENDA
There is little doubt that the current minister of education Malam Adamu Adamu has displayed overwhelming aversion/repulsion for other faith-based affiliations in the determination of who to appoint into strategic national educational positions.
He is reported to have so marginalised his better qualified colleague- the minister of state for education Professor Anthony Onwuka to an extent that he made the man's daughter-in-law a member of a non-attractive board of one rural federal college of education in a remote part of Rivers State which even made the Parents of the girl the governor of Imo state Rochas Okorocha and his wife to denounce this awkward appointment.
Since coming into office, this Kaduna-based newspaper columnist with no knowledge or experience of the educational system of Nigeria is alleged to have embarked on the deliberate planting of hardcore Islamists into the key educational policy making bodies in Nigeria including but not limited to the National university commission, Nigerian educational Research and development council(NERDC); Tertiary educational trust Fund (TETFUND)and the joint Admission and Matriculation examination board(JAMB) amongst several other strategic positions and board chairmanships.
Indeed the man manning the high office of the executive secretary of Joint Admission and Matriculation Board- a Professor of Islamic studies Mr Ishaq Oloyode is still the secretary General of the Islamic national council of Nigeria.
You would then imagine why in the first place why the erstwhile executive Secretary with better qualification in the core educational field was subtituted with a professor of Islamic studies who still clings on to his religious job.
Professor Dibu Ojerinde who was removed as JAMB executive Secretary by Adamu Adamu is a reputable professor of Test and measurement in the Education faculty..
This one- sided appointments in the education ministry headed by a newspaper columnist are in clear breach of the Federal character principle enshrined in section 14(3) of the 1999 constitution(as amended).
For the purpose of direct emphasis, we may wish to recall that the aformentioned constitutional provision of 14(3) states thus: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of it’s agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”.
These clear infractions and vexatious violations of the Federal character principle may have occurred unchallenged because it is even said that the Federal character commission which is as institution set up to safeguard this sacred provision is itself in clear breach of the law because both the Chairperson(Shettima Bukar-Abba) and the secretary(Mohammed Bello ) are from the Northern section of Nigeria.
Besides, this highly inexperienced education minister may have derived motivation to sideline other ethno-religious citizens of Nigeria because the appointing authority for now-the president is directly in breach of the Federal character provision by concentrating top flight appointments to the Moslem Hausa/Fulani section of Nigeria in both the strategic defence portfolios and many other juicy top level national offices.
At first when President Muhammadu Buhari named this little known newspaper columnist as the substantive education minister and downgraded a former University Professor and erstwhile Vice Chancellor of the Imo state University to become the minister of state under a neophyte, controversy flared up.
Questions were asked as to why the President elevated nepotism to the front burner and relegated merit and competence to the backyard.
Malam Adamu Adamu assumed duty and displayed some crass incompetence by handpicking persons of his own religious backgrounds as the key office holders in the federal ministry of Education.
The behavioural tendencies of the minister of education reminds me of what a Professor of Psychology in Havard University Amy Cuddy wrote in her latest work that people judge you based on two criteria when they meet you.
In her new work titled "PRESENCE", she says that people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you namely, can i trust this person? and secondly, can i respect this person?.
Psychologists call these factors as warmth and competence, and ideally you will want to be perceived as having both.
With the furore raised by a lot of the bigoted actions of the education minister, it does appear that he may score double negatives if those two questions are asked about him.
Anyway, the above is not the Fulcrum of this piece because what we are set to speak about is even much more toxic to an extent that if no remedial steps are adopted immediately, there is the possibility of the religious war flaring all across Nigeria going by the fact that it is impossible for the education minister to successfully seek to impose the study of Arabic or Islamic studies on non-Moslems.
The controversial and criminal downgrading of the Christian Religious Knowledge to the less fancied position of a subtheme within the so-called civic education is unconstitutional and indeed a declaration of an unholy war against the Christian religion in Nigeria.
In section 38(2) of the constitution, it is as clear as the sunlight that the Nigerian government cannot remove the teaching of either Christian religious knowledge or Islamic religious knowledge because of the strategic constitutional importance.
It is even much more dubious and vicious when C.R.K. is downgraded whereas IRK is smuggled in through the backdoor by making it a compulsory subject in place of French.
Section 38 (2) states thus: "No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or to attend any religious ceremony or observance if such instruction, ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own or a religion not approved by his parent or guardian”.
The clear and emphatic wordings of section 38(2) of the constitution which applies the word SHALL implies that it is a legal duty upon government to ensure compliance.
So it is incumbent on the Federal government to ensure that the removal through subterfuge of the teaching of Christian Religious knowledge is reversed and the subject restored with immediate effect.
This writer, after extensively understudying the tepid response from the education minister on this needless crime of substituting C.R.K is hereby urging the Acting president Professor Yemi Osinbanjo to do everything within his constitutional power to save Nigeria from imminent religious war because the deliberate demotion of the Christian religion in the curriculum of public schools.
This evil plot is a declaration of war. It goes against everything that public policy formulation and implementation represent.
Moreover, the indirect attempt in a brazen format by the minister of education and his director general of the Nigerian educational development and Research council to indoctrinate and brainwash children born into the Christian community is a crime against humanity.
Cyril Connolly rigtly stated that; "Only a man of faith who sincerely follows his religion becomes happy. In my religion, there would be no exclusive doctrine; all would be love, poetry, and doubt".
What Adamu Adamu seeks to achieve by downgrading the teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge and making it only a subset of the unrelated civic education is to deny the Children born to Christian homes their God given happiness and Love that can only come from a sound knowledge of their religious beliefs and system.
To even superimpose the peganistic question which implicitly plants a doubt in the minds of students on the divinity of Jesus Christ as a segmment of the civic education is provocative.
The perceived dangers packaged in the new Curriculum of Education has brought the document to the fore since the leadership of CAN raised the issue in a meeting with the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and asked the government to ensure there is no discrimination against any student because of religious beliefs in our public schools.
Speaking through its President, his eminence, Rev Dr Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle, the umbrella body of all Christians in the country foresaw the danger ahead if the curriculum that merged Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Religious Knowledge with the Civic Education is made to stay.
The organisation also disclosed some perceived discriminations against Christian students in the curriculum.
According to Ayokunle, “...In this curriculum, Islamic and Christian Religious Studies will no longer be studied in schools as subjects on their own but as themes in a civic education. This undermines the sound moral values that these two subjects had imparted in the past to our children which had made us to religiously and ethnically co-exist without any tension.
“...Islamic Religious Knowledge was equally made available as a subject in another section without any corresponding availability of Christian Religious Knowledge. Is this not a divisive curriculum that can set the nation on fire? Is this fair to millions of Christians in this nation?”
To buttress his point, the CAN President cited a case in Kwara State where a student was punished for refusing to register for Islamic Religious Knowledge.
“A Christian student in a secondary school in Kwara State had his body lacerated with cane by the Arabic Teacher because the pupil refused to do Islamic Religious Knowledge when French Teacher was not available and Christian Religious Knowledge, Hebrew or Greek were not part of the options at all.”
But in a swift reaction, the Federal Ministry of Education debunked the claims that Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) had been removed as a subject of study from the secondary school curriculum and Islamic Religious Studies reintroduced..
According to the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Education, Mrs. Chinenye Ihuoma, the ministry has only designed a new subject which merged Civic Education, IRS, CRK and Social Studies into “Religion and National Values”.
But her words, to say the least, confirmed the well grounded fear of the national Christian platform when she stated that the ministry has designed a new subject which merged Civic Education, IRS, CRK and Social Studies into “Religion and National Values”.
The man heading the National Education development and Research council contradicted his minister by insisting that CRK and IRK are still distinct subjects.
How on earth are these two persons speaking from both sides of their mouth on a clear policy matter which is written in black and white and already read by diverse group of persons including the national hierarchy of Christians?
The man in the Education research and development council faulted his minister when he asserted that: “CRK is not a theme in Civic Education. Civic Education is a distinct subject on its own which teaches the rudiments of good citizenship”.
This position contradicts that of the Ministry. He went further to disclose a directive given by the Minister on the merger which the ministry under his watch claims has not been implemented.
His words, “For the avoidance of doubt, the last review of the curriculum was approved in 2013 and implementation commenced in September, 2014. In both instances, neither the Christian Religious Knowledge nor Islamic Studies was removed from the curriculum".
“In fact, at the commencement of the present administration, the Hon. Minister of Education sought and obtained the approval of the National Council on Education to make Christian Religious Knowledge compulsory for all Christians students and Islamic Studies compulsory for their Muslim counterparts".
“Efforts are in top gear to print the Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Studies Curriculum separately in order to maintain their characteristics and distinctiveness".
“In this Curriculum, no child should be coerced or compelled to learn or be taught in school any religious studies subject but only one (out of the two) that restrictively relates to the belief system professed by the child and his/her parents.”
Christian Association of Nigeria also raised another key point thus: "If the new curriculum is treating the two religious subjects separately as being claimed, why do we have a satanic topic in the Civic Education like 'IS JESUS THE SON OF GOD'? Or is the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo who disclosed to CAN leadership that this was in the curriculum he earlier saw lying too?"
These historical and or deliberate half-truths are a total abuse of the essence of public policy formulation and implementation.
R.K. SAPRU in his book "Public policy- formulation, implentation and evaluation" stressed that a public Policy inputs are demands made on the political systems by individuals and groups for action or inaction about some perceived problems.
Such demands, the writer said may include a general insistence that government should do something to a proposal for specific action on the other.
If i may ask, what is the problem inherent in the teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Religious Knowledge? If these two courses are wrong why does the constitution recognises that students be educated in the religious beliefs of their parents so long as they are not yet up to the age of consent.
The Universal Declarations of HUMAN RIGHTS and all other international human rights laws recognise the teaching of religious beliefs of the parents to the students.
The aforementioned public policy book also affirmed that:"In the political system model, outputs are regarded either as effects on the environment or as ‘feedback’ to the political supporters of the system. Easton says that outputs are said to constitute a body or specific inducements of the members of a political system to support given, or by socialization into the political norms of the society."
In other words, policy outputs are the actual decisions of the implementers. Theory are what the government does, as distinguished from what it says it is going to do.
Writing further the author stated thus: "Examples of policy outputs relate to such matters as the educational institutions built, taxes collected. Compensation paid, or curbs on trade eliminated. Outcomes are real whether intended or unintended", so the writer said.
“In the final analysis, the success of public administration of development can be measured only in relation to the implementation is of critical importance to the success of government".
The writer also reminds us that: "However good the political system, however noble the goals, however sound the organizational system, no policies can succeed if the implementation does not bear relationship to the intensions of the policy adopters".
A dispassionate assessment of the defence put up by the federal ministry of Education under Adamu Adamu and his Director General of the National Education development and Research council which contradicts each other, shows the wide gap between what bad intention that there is in the bigoted actions of these officials who are misusing their public office to frame national education policy that would alienate a greater chunk of the Nigerian population in the guise of attempting to introduce a new curriculum for public schools.
This plot amounts to an unmitigated evil that must be exorcised if we must avoid witnessing religious war.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs @ [email protected] ; www.emmanuelonwubiko.com .