Religious Intolerance: Preventing Osun State as the Next Hot Spot
By Nnanke Harry Willie
If anyone had any doubt about the truism of German Philosopher Karl Marx that Religion is the opium of the people, recent incidents in Osun state is beginning to establish that. The Babel of prayers and riot of colours with the attendant commotion that has reigned in Iwo Baptist School in the past 2 days must be nipped in the bud before the extremism currently feeding the prolonged in the North Eastern part of the country is replicated in the otherwise tolerant and peaceful South West
The reported disrupotion of academic studies occasioned by students of Baptist High School, Iwo, Osun State, on Tuesday and Wednesday who abandoned the general uniform provided by Governor Rauf Aregbesola-led administration and instead wore hijabs, purdah, choir garments and masquerade regalia to the school is an early warning that things may come to a boil if the issues surrounding the hijab wearing policy to public schools is not treated with the tact and wisdom that the policy deserves.
It was reported that while the Muslims wore their hijabs to affirm their Islamic purity, Christians also followed suit by wearing choir garments. Not to be outdone, the Traditional Religious group also came in their masquerade regalia with group loudly and cacophonously prayer and reciting the respective verses of their religions
According to reports, the development has twice disrupted the usual assembly prayer, as the students declined to listen to their principal and teachers, but chose to sing different songs of their religious faiths. These actions, it is believed, are but a first step in protesting against the general uniform for all secondary schools introduced by the Osun state government, as part of its schools reclassification programme..
Already religious organisations are beginning to take positions and they can only dig deeper into the trenches unless the State government consults with its citizens in order to find a common ground that will be to the appreciation and benefit of the generality of the people of Ogun state.
From the branding point of view, taking away the identity of schools some of which have existed for close to a century is not not an easy thing to accept. The idea smacks of communist idealism which has been proven to be an unnatural system of existence. One school uniform for all secondary schools in the state makes for a boring and unappealing visual image across the schools.
Schools pride themselves in upholding several virtues: a history of academic excellence, a history of building champions in various fields of endeavor; a history of excellent culture based on religion, sports; tribe and philosophical leaning. They express these in their brand identities such as their uniforms, the logo (or crest); their anthem; their colours and their attitude. It makes a lot of sense to allow schools to differentiate on the basis of their strengths and orientation. It is however pertinent to allow the constitution to prevail in public schools: that is Nigeria is a secular state. Let us keep it that way for the sake of peace and progress
POSER: HOW CAN WE BRING BACK THE RELIGIOUS HARMONY WE ONCE ENJOYED SO FREELY IN NIGERIA WITHOUT THE SUPERIORITY COMPLEX AS WE DO TODAY?
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE IN THE OSUN STATE CONUNDRUM?