Journalists and TV presenters can be mischievous at times, especially while trying to get a controversial headline from an interview. That was exactly what Morayo Afolabi-Brown did to our dear Deputy Governor, Her Excellency, Dr Idiat Adebule during the October 5, 2016 special edition of a popular TV programme, Your View dedicated to celebrate the World Teachers’ Day.
During the 1 long-hour programme, there wasn’t any discussion pertaining to the hijab, only for Auntie Morayo to ask a question on ‘religious neutrality in school’ at exactly 48mins, less than 2mins to round-off the programme, and the uninitiated Deputy Governor fell for the media antic.
Her unguarded comments about Hijab ban suddenly became the banner headline, No hijab on school uniforms, Deputy Governor insists which corroborated the earlier disregard to the Appeal Court ruling by the state government.
48mins, 46secs Morayo asked; We have to go but unfortunately I want you to touch very quickly on what YK (referring to one of the co-hosts, Yeni Kuti) used to introduce the show, concerning religion in schools which is really key.
She was saying that there are schools where, maybe, neutral schools for example (what is neutral schools? Why not say ‘government-owned schools’) where, with the imposing religion (imagine that? As if, hijab is being imposed in schools as she wrongly cited Osun as a case study.
I know Osun had that issue, what is your take generally on religion. Should we have Muslim schools, or Christian schools separate. Or should we just accept all religions in schools. What’s the Lagos State position on this issue?
The Deputy Governor replied:
For us in Lagos State, all the children are our own children. You are free to profess whatever religion you choose to do. As to bringing religion to school, it is so clear to us, that the period of engagement is between 8 am and 2 pm. Why you’re in school, you’re expected to comport yourself.
49 mins: 47 secs: Here is the Deputy Governor’s embarrassing comment on Hijab.
Recently, the Muslim student got an injunction to use hijab. For us, the Idea is… (which idea? Yours or court?, these people don’t have respect for the court of law) The instruction generally is whatever you practice, neutrality is what we preach in schools.
And again, if you’re coming from home with your hijab to school, when you get to the gate, you can remove it. When you’re going back home, you can put it.
And the presenters were all excited, mission accomplished! They even thanked her (for falling into their traps). One of the co-hosts, Auntie Yeni Kuti remarked, I appreciate your response. Neutrality is very important.
This is indeed a big lesson for political figures who may find themselves appearing on ‘enemies’ or unsympathetic programmes on TV to be tactically careful and cautious about what they say. It is obvious the Deputy Governor is not a typical politician and very naive when it comes to the antics of the media. She needs to realise she is not only a Commissioner but a statesman – Deputy Governor.
May I say, very strongly that there is no ‘neutrality’ as erroneously being bandied in the modern day educational system, including the use of school uniforms.
To put the record straight, the school uniforms being used in most of our schools in the southwest is CHRISTIAN in orientation and design. It was designed and imposed on the locals by the Christian missionaries who brought the modern education to Nigeria during the colonial era.
As law abiding citizens, Muslims had lived with this imposition for decades- before and after independence. It is not until recently that some Muslim activists started calling for a review, to accommodate hijab, which according to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is their Right.
This was recently granted by the Appeal Court in Lagos which stated that Muslim students can now wear hijab. That is the judgment, until it is either affirmed or set aside by the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, it is now a case of ‘Muslims against Muslims’, as our dear Sister via the statements has inadvertently and unwittingly joined the oppressors of hijab against innocent Muslim students.
Let me state without mincing words that all those who have lampooned our amiable Deputy Governor for the ‘misguided statements’ are justified, going by the efforts that have so far gone into battle. It is nevertheless important to note that Adebule is human and she is prone to error. To err is human and to forgive is divine.
Meanwhile, it is crucial to note that because of the uproar and confusion already generated by the unfortunate statements, overzealous principals and evil-minded teachers may want wreck havoc and cause religious acrimony in schools. It is therefore very paramount for the Ministry of Education to, as a matter of urgency, issue a circular and advisory to all public schools to abide by the Appeal Court judgement until the outcome of the appeal at the Supreme Court.
But, before I pulse here, Let me leave the hijab oppressors with this beautiful hadith of our Prophet (peace be upon him):
There are three people whose “Du’aa” (prayers) are never rejected (by God): the fasting person at the time of breaking his fast, the just ruler, and the OPPRESSED. Their prayers Allah lifts above the clouds and opens unto it the doors of heaven, and Allah says: “I swear by My honour, verily I shall assist you, even though it maybe after some time.
– Rasheed Abubakar
A journalist, publicist and an author of Muslims and the Threats of the Media.