Hijab Controversies: My Wife Practical Experience In Kogi Islamic School 

By Shaibu Stephen Ojate
Click for Full Image Size
Listen to article

The lingering crises rocking Christian Missionary Schools in Kwara State over the compulsory use of Hijab by the Muslim students has become a national discourse prompting comments from different quarters.

The public are presently divided along two lines, that is those who come to term and considered Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) as an extremist to the extent of going against a policies that is not met for every female Students and other who averred that it is strictly an act of Islamic extremism that prompts parent of Muslim Students to call for the introduction of Hijab for their wards in an originally pure Christian Schools.

Those who frown at the former adduced that the concerned schools presently fall under public institution declaring that discrimination on account of introduction of Hijab in the missionary Schools is uncalled for. This school of thought further hinted that the present owner of the said Schools is the State government and it would be out of point for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Christians in general to dictate how the school should be run. Pundits advancing and promoting the introduction of Hijab had further hit back at Christians saying they themselves always go against the preaching of spirit of tolerance in the Church as their present stance on the introduction of Hijab portrays them as unaccommodating of other people’s ways of life.

To make Christianity looks bad in the eye of the public the more, they added that purely and originally Islamic Schools turned public School would never discriminate Christian Students on account of their religious believe. To further buttress their points, they noted that Kano State is purely a Muslim dominated State and no single Christian Students have been forced to use Hijab as part of the Uniform in any public schools there.

The above view point of those advancing and canvassing the use and introduction of Hijab in originally pure Christians Schools turned public School prompt this article. To start with, there was one originally Quran School in my home town in Ihima Kogi State called Ebira Muslim College situated at Ikuehi. Sometime in late 80s, this school was primarly established for those who want to build careers in Islamic studies. Islamic Scholars were tutors in this Schools and the mode of dressing for the Students was total body cover. The male wears the usual mallam style dress and female with total body cover with only their eyes open to the public. The use of trousers was for both and Hijab was made compulsory for all female Students in this Islamic Schools.

After two to three years of the School’s existence, there was decline in admission enrolment of those who wanted to build career in Islamic studies and it was at this point the Islamic elites in the society reasoned and come with a conclusion to turn the School to secular institution to give room for the admission of everyone. During this period, a proposal to this effect was made to the then State government and approval was given for the partial government takeover of the School and it was thereafter turned to secondary school.

With the conversion of the School, the admission enrolment of Students increased and Students of two major religions in Nigeria were found in the Islamic turned government Secondary School. When my fiancée then who is presently my wife had issue with his former School, I advised her to enroll into the School to finish up her secondary school class. This fiancée of mine was a Christian and was indeed admitted just like several other Christian intakes. The School had fair number of Christians while their Muslim counterpart dominated the school both at teaching and Student level.

During her schooling in this Islamic turned public and partial Government School, the management of the School declares that all Students therein must put on Hijab on assembly ground. The use of Hijab was not only compulsory for Female Muslim Students alone but for all the Students therein irrespective of one religious believes. Due to consistent pressure mounted on every student, my fiancée who is desirous of study had no option than to sew Hijab to avoid further harassment from the teachers and the Prefects who usually beat them on account of not having or putting up Hijab in Assembly ground.

When my fiancée further lamented about wearing Hijab being a Christians, i still recall that I did advised her to go by their policy as she will not stay there forever. ‘’Behave like a Roman when in Rome, my candid advice then’’. To educate my reader more, she was not the only Christian student forced to wear Hijab while in the assembly and in the classroom as they were in hundred then. The take of the School management was that the school was rooted Islamic even though it was taking over by the government.

This strict policy in this said Islamic turned public and partial government was known to every people in the society. The parent of these Christian Students never at anytime revolt nor protest against compulsory usage of Hijab by Christians Students in Ebira Muslim College at Ikuehi in Ihima then. As was observed then, the Christians Students who were not comfortable with Hijab policy left the School for another and none or any of these Christian parents put pressure on Kogi State government to put pressure on the School to back down the compulsory Hijab uniform policy by the Students then. As the situation was then, Christian Religious Knowledge had no single teacher and there was no protest matches by the Christians Community over this religious coloured policy.

It beats my imagination that people from Kogi State are going against the stance of original missionary school when we have the same situation in Kogi State.

Shaibu Stephen Ojate, is a Journalist and Public affairs commentator writes from Abuja. He is on facebook and whatsapp platform and reachable via phone number 09075716236

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."