Move Over, Covenant – At Crescent University, “female students can’t move about without headties”

by Hauwa Gambo

You think life is hard because your friend or family member at Babcock or Covenant University can’t visit the opposite sex, can’t bring phones into school (officially) and needs exeats to be able to leave the campus? Well we’ve got news for ya.

Many are probably not aware, but Crescent University in Abeokuta is the first Islamic University in southern Nigeria. It was established by Bola Abdul Jabbar Ajibola, a former minister of justice and Attorney-General of the Federation who was also one-time Judge at the World Court in Hague, Netherlands.

According to Vanguard newspapers, “It all started on Sunday, January 5, 2003, at the weekly Adhkar sessions of the Islamic Mission for Africa (IMA) where he revealed to the congregation his vision of an Islamic university in a predominantly Christian Southern Nigeria. “Before then, universities belonging to Christian missions had begun to thrive and it was only logical for us as adherents of Islam to have our own too,” Ajibola who is the Proprietor had said at the 3rd Convocation ceremony of the university held on Saturday, 8 October, 2011.

He added that it dawned on him rightly that achieving that objective was a herculean task, but knew and believed that it was achievable all the time. “I have never believed that any individual should singly carry the burden of this type of task alone,” he said. “And it is on record that the intellectual summits held to fashion out ways of achieving our aim of an Islamic university in Southern Nigeria had more than 70 Muslim intellectuals and scholars drawn from tertiary institutions and Islamic organisations from all over the country.”

The school has approximately 1100 students.

Not surprisingly, things are done a bit differently at this university, and the paper got a peek into the six-year old school’s modus in an interview  exclusive with its fourth vice-chancellor, Prof. Hassan Kehinde Okeley.

See interesting excerpts from that interview below:

(Is there) a church or chapel for the Christians here?

No chapel, because it’s a Muslim school. Christian students take exeat to go out to worship. They are given exeat three times and can use such to go outside to the church which is an opportunity for them.

In your own view, is there a comparison between Western and Islamic education?

Education is education, whether Islamic or Christian (Western). All universities are guided by minimum academic benchmarks provided by the National Universities Commission (NUC). There are academic standards for any programme which must be satisfied. But we have Islamic touch. Like in General Studies, we have Philosophy of Islam, Islamic Thought, which are compulsory. There is Arabic for beginners.

If you walk around the campus, see the difference in dressing. Men in corporate dressing except on Friday.

What about female students?

Females are not allowed to move about without headties, or wear mini, can put on trousers, but dress decently well, not show your curves. They must cover themselves beyond knees.

Do you have something unique, different from other conventional universities?

We teach Elements of Islamic Banking, Islamic Cooperatives among the staff, and move to Islamic Micro-finance Bank, which is now operating very well. These have marked us out. It’s unique. We say the five daily Islamic prayers. The 5.30 a.m. Morning prayer in the hostel, the other four said in the mosque. Technically, there is a break between 12 – 2 pm, to make for lunch and other things. Classes end at 6 p.m. Prayer period is left free on the time table. Enough time allowed in the time table to do all these things. There are two in-house Imams. One is from Egypt on rotational basis, the other Imam is a Nigerian.

We have a Guidance and Counselling Unit where students go for help. It is not religious. The unit can handle spiritual, handle emotional, and different forms of problems – male and female. The Guidance and Counselling Unit also handles problems of Christian students because we are all human beings – psychological, academic, irrespective of faith. The major one is funding. The institution is solely funded by the proprietor. But the Islamic Development Bank has approved $500,000 for ICT.

What’s the current population of students in this university?

The population is now 1,100 students across all the programmes and all the levels. There are five levels – 500 level for those doing programmes of five years, 400 level for those running four years programme and like that. For the avoidance of doubt, this is a Muslim school owned by the Islamic Mission for Africa. But we don’t discriminate in the admission of students and recruitment of teaching staff. There is a mix, with Christian students also here.

We have a good spread of students from across Nigeria – North, East, South-South, West. Also are the staff – administrative and teaching. By and large, though this is a Muslim institution, but it still accommodates all shades.

Interesting, don’t you think?

Comments (4)

  1. @'Lara: Why are the Christian schools 'so-called' to you?

  2. There is nothing significantly different from this school and the so called Christian schools. At least the Christians are not forced to observe the prayers or attend the mosque unlike Babcock and the rest.

  3. Hi Endy,

    thanks for the note. We corrected the Hague error.

    An exeat is defined as "official permission for a student to be absent from a college or university."

  4. Hauwa pls make the correction its exits and nt exeats and The hague is in Netherlands not switzerland

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