By Demola Akinyemi
Following the protests by Muslim students in Christian schools over their stoppage to use hijab, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has chosen the option of praying to God so as to have peaceful solutions to the controversy.
Christians in Kwara State are making some key demands which include the return of their schools and no use of hijab and that CAN does not want the schools to lose the identity of being built and owned by churches.
The government’s closure of the schools was prompted by a protest on Friday, by hundreds of female students who put Hijab on their heads, and were turned back to their various homes.
The 10 Christian-built schools were closed to breaking of law and order due to the fact that some groups of Muslims vowed to forcefully effect the use of hijab by female students in the affected Christian schools which the Christians resisted a day before the schools’ closure.
The well-attended prayer session by members from various units and denominations was held Sunday, February 21, 2021, at St. Barnabas Anglican Cathedral, Sabo-Oke, Ilorin.
While awaiting government pronouncement on the issue after series of meetings, CAN leaders called out members to pray to God for the ultimate solution.
Rev Fr. Ralph Ajewole, Chairman, CAN Ecumenism who gave the brief on the reason for the gathering, said, it was for the faithful to raise their voices to the Lord in unison, giving the example of how Israelites do overcome in battle.
He reminded Christians that “God is with us in facing the current challenges as he has always been,” charging them never to be tired or worried.
After Bible lesson from 2nd Chronicle 20:15 – 22, which was taken by Evangelist Mary Okoye, Rev Dr. S. O. James of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Sabo-Oke, Ilorin gave the exhortation.
Rev James charged the people to believe in God who never forsake his own people. He gave the example of Gideon who was almost going into hiding before he was strengthened to face the challenges ahead and conquered.
“We have reached a level in Kwara in which Christians are just living to survive. Why? What happened on Thursday and Friday in respect of attempted enforcement and resistance of hijab in Christian-built schools will make anyone to feel sorry for the state,” he remarked.
He reminded all: “God is with us. We have Him as Israelites have Him. He has promised to be our God and He has superior power.” He enjoined Christians to go in might as a united body of Christ.
In their submissions, Rev. J. S. Dada, President, Kwara Baptist Convention and Rev Rueben Ibitoye, State Secretary of CAN said, Christians in Kwara State are making two key demands: “The return of our schools and that no use of hijab in our schools,” and that CAN does not want the schools to lose the identity of being built and owned by Churches.
Barrister Shina Ibiyemi, CAN Legal Adviser, who elucidated on the legal angle of the controversy said, there was never any time the hijab issue was a subject of contention in the law court in the state. He, therefore, implored the people to harm themselves with fact and safeguard against misconception.
The gathering also prayed for the unity of the church, for peace in Nigeria and Kwara State in particular. Prayers were said for blessings, courage, and boldness in faith
They also prayed for a secured society and for Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to heed CAN’s call and make do his promise of answering their requests.
Among the anointed ministers of the gospel who led the faithful in prayer were Rev Gabriel Olaoye, Rev S A Adedayo, Rev J S Owoeye, Rev Abel Aiyedogbon, Very Rev. Shokoya, Rev Noah Adeosun, Rev Malomo, Pastor Mrs. Ibitoye, who led the praise worship.
The state government had insisted through the statement of Secretary to the State Government, Prof Mamma Saba Jibril that the 10 grant-aided schools in Ilorin, are to remain shut pending announcement of the state government’s position on the use of the Muslim head covering (hijab) in the schools.
“This is to avert any breakdown of law and order while the government concludes consultations with relevant stakeholders. Members of the public are urged to remain calm and peaceful. Official pronouncement of government’s position is likely this week,” the statement stressed.
Vanguard News Nigeria