Mike Agbahime will never forget seeing his wife, Bridget, being beaten to death by a mob in a Kano market for a perceived slight on Islam. While we wait on the authorities to deliver justice, is necessary to reflect once again on all the ways religion is used as a cover for the worst instincts of Nigerians.
There is no aspect of Nigerian society that is free from this behaviour. Election riggers, contract inflators, dubious artisans and fraudsters of every shade, attribute their ill-gotten wealth and victories to God.
Wife beaters, child molesters and rapists cling to God in trying to escape accountability for their crimes, and incompetent public officials think that invoking the divine is a replacement for having a plan in the physical.
Many parts of major holy books enjoin those who read them to embrace their fellow man and pursue excellence in every good thing. Nigeria is one of the world’s most religious nations, but is quickly becoming the poster child for taking away all the wrong lessons from it.
The latest example of the corrosive application of religion in Nigerian society comes from Osun state.
A state that ranks 29th of out 36 states plus the FCT (below Borno!), definitely has bigger problems than whether or not its students should be allowed to wear hijab to school or not. Yet, Osun’s school system is the latest battleground for religious fanatics, this time under the umbrella of Osun Christian Association of Nigeria (OSCAN).
On June 3 this year, an Osun High Court ruled that female Muslim students can wear hijab to school, expressing their freedom of religion. The hijab is one of the coverings widely worn by Muslim females all over the world, and Christians who are not part of the clergy do not have an equivalent.
Rather than accept the verdict or appeal it, OSCAN, which voluntarily joined in the suit as respondents, proceeded to instruct Christian students in the state to wear choir robes to school, never mind the fact that there is no choir practice or competition, and they are not clergymen.
It is important to emphasise this, in order to lay bare the reason for the instruction to wear choir robes. It has nothing to do with ‘secularism’, and everything to do with a cynical retaliation for a ruling they perceived as a step toward the ‘Islamisation’ of Osun state.
The implication is that OSCAN sought to deny female Muslim students their rights, and failing that, are using Christian students as pawns in their battle for religious supremacy. So, rather focusing on their schoolwork, impressionable children are now enlisted as foot soldiers in a power game they will find hard to comprehend. That is what this is about. It is about power.
What is worse is that this battle is needless. Christianity, Islam, and any other religion are not in need of any defence.
The best way to propagate one’s religion is to display the qualities that portray that religion in the best light possible, not displays of intolerance of the religious practices of others, particularly when those practices do not infringe on the rights of anyone else. Many Muslim females wear the hijab in schools across the South West, with no drama.
Instead of this manufactured drama which OSCAN is in the forefront of, its focus should be on making sure the WAEC standing of the state improves. The future of Osun is at stake, and that future will not be determined by who wears – or doesn’t wear – the hijab.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija