IMPERVIOUS to the provisions prohibiting both states and the Federal Government from adopting any religion as state religion in the 1999 Constitution, the House of Representatives is considering a bill on the wearing of hijab in Nigerian schools and establishments. Entitled, ‘Religious Discrimination (Prohibition, Prevention) Bill, 2021,’ the bill has designs on legalising the use of the Muslim veil in the country. The proposed law is controversial and provocative, and is capable of fuelling the dangerous descent into violent religious sectarianism in the country.
Unequivocally, the constitution establishes in Section 10: “The Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion.” It is argued that diversity comes in many forms: thought and speech; dress and physical appearance; language; religion; values, attitudes, and lifestyles. What is important is that one should not be suppressed against or promoted above the others. One cornerstone of liberal democracy is religious tolerance, which presupposes that adherence or non-adherence to faith is an individual choice. Therefore, it is the duty of the government and the right of the people not to tolerate the intolerant in the society.
Hijab, a veil worn with the aid of Muslim women, has deeply polarised Nigeria. In the beyond few weeks, the faculty device in Kwara State has now not recognized peace over the sporting of hijab. An strive by way of the kingdom authorities to impose hijab on Christian missionary schools is being resisted by using the in-supply Christian colleges. At the same time, the Muslims are adamant that a court docket has already declared hijab to be worn to school. The stalemate has caused the destruction of church and college property and protest rallies by the antagonists. While hijab has turn out to be the cause célèbre, schooling, the bedrock of current society, has become inappropriate, a sufferer of the squabbling over faith.
The query is: Should hijab be allowed in Christian-named faculties? The blunt truth is that Nigeria isn’t dealing with its non secular pluralism rightly. It is truely no longer proper to conclude that these faculties have been taken over by using the authorities. The argument is that veils are towards the authentic Christian historical past of the faculties’ founding missionaries. Just in 2016, Osun State underwent a associated cataclysm whilst its then governor, Rauf Aregbesola, carried out a comparable policy. In a few faculties, students went to high school sporting the clothes in their faiths. The chaos changed into unattainable. In Lagos, the hijab trouble is pending before the Supreme Court after the appellate courtroom determined that the veil could be worn to public colleges. It is unfortunate that the Kwara government didn’t study from those reports.
By getting entangled within the hijab controversy, the House has misplaced its recognition, neglecting the pressing troubles of improvement. This need to alternate. It need to give attention to critical legislative imperatives just like the Petroleum Industry Bill, the repeal of the Railway Act 1955 and legal guidelines to enhance monetary improvement and security, and decrease corruption. It is a shame at the lawmakers that the PIB has suffered undue delay inside the National Assembly considering that its unique introduction in 2008. Nigerians are undergoing delivery pains, but the principal challenge – the Railway Act – is left untouched. The outcry over restructuring to keep the federation is simply noise making to the pampered parliamentarians. Although the 2023 fashionable election isn’t always too far away, the National Assembly has yet to adopt a complete assessment of the Electoral Act to make elections in Nigeria transparent, free from violence and agree to global requirements.
Across the globe, the hijab trouble has brought about serious divisions, but Nigerian states can study from the British example. Essentially, the choice become decentralised, even though a unitary machine operates there. As such, there’s no ban on Islamic get dressed in the United Kingdom, but faculties are allowed to determine their very own get dressed code after a 2007 directive which observed several high-profile court docket cases, states the BBC. States in Nigeria ought to don’t forget this not unusual sense components.
All types of non secular extremism should be condemned and fought to a standstill. Where changed into the National Assembly when Mubarak Bala, head of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, become seized with the aid of the police and charged for blasphemy? Where are the lawmakers every time bottles of alcoholic liquids are seized from non-Muslims and are irritatingly destroyed by means of Hisbah police? Does Sharia law have impact on non-Muslims? The conceitedness of faith is seriously undermining the non violent co-lifestyles of Nigeria’s diverse religious organizations. It is a verifiable fact that international locations that sell political religion are either economically backward or perennially struggling with the demanding situations of country constructing.
One of the finest tragedies of education in Nigeria become the brazen take-over of undertaking schools within the army generation. Undoubtedly, this is the foundation of the current disaster in which country governments are able to dictate to public faculties with out thinking of the sensibilities of spiritual practices whilst the missionaries set up the faculties. It became an impetuous, centralising selection that has served no actual cause. Using legalism on my own might not suffice to remedy it. States must think. All faiths and non-faiths have to be dealt with equally. There are exact reasons for sporting faculty uniforms. School uniforms nourish a experience of equality and sell a sense of community. There is likewise a longstanding aversion to public expressions of religion in schools. The rational technique is to return these schools to the missions that hooked up them in the beginning. Additionally, college students who attend a college belonging to a particular faith ought to abide through the uniform code of that faculty, regardless of their own faith.