July 18, 2017

Chief Imam queried for criticising Adamwa state over education neglect

School feeding: FG targets 400,000 pupils in Adamawa

Governor Jibrilla Bindow

YOLA – Tension is brewing in Girei. A surburb of Yola, over a plot by the Adamawa State government to remove the Chief Imam of Girei, Sheikh Abubakar Halilu after he was queried for criticising the state government education policy.

Governor Jibrilla Bindow

An audio of the recent sermon by the Chief Imam of Gire Mosque, in which he described the state administration education policy as the worst in the history of the country has gone viral on the social media, attracting condemnation of the government from members of public.

A rumour of the alleged suspension of the Imam created tension in the Girei Local Government with youths planning a public protest.

Some of the youths interviewed alleged that the state government had mounted pressure on the Adamawa Emirate Council to take punitive action against the Imam, saying youths were ready to take to the streets should the plot is actualised.

A similar crisis in the past led to a violent riot in which protesters burnt the office of Yola North District Head, Baba Paris after the district head made an attempt to remove the Chief Imam of the area, Sheikh Sufyan for criticising the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government and praying for change of leadership at the height of Boko Haram attacks between 2014 and 2015.

Governor Jibrilla who declared emergency on education since last year has failed to pay teachers’ salaries or make meaningful impact on the ailing education sector despite billions of naira received from federal government as bail out funds and Paris Club refund.

Delivering Eid sermon at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim cleric expressed disgust at the state of education under the present administration with government refusing to pay teachers or provide learning materials despite huge amount of money received from federal coffers..

“In every village, you find teachers, health workers and local government workers, so failure to pay salaries increase poverty. We have leaders who tell lies, break promises and use indecent language”, he stated.

“Under tis administration, school teachers have overtaken Almajiris as reference point of poverty”, he said.

When contacted by journalists, Sheikh Halilu confirmed receiving the query but called for calm in the community, saying he was appalled by the volume of reactions to his rumoured suspension on the social media.

“Nobody suspended or removed me but I received a letter from the authorities, asking me to explain the content of my sermon and I replied them, that is all. I urge the public especially the youths to stop making insulting comments against leaders. My intention was to call the attention of government to the problems affecting the society and not to elicit such reactions from the public.”, he stated.

However, when contacted on the issue, the Secretary Adamawa Emirate Council, Khalil Kawu said the matter had been resolved by the district head who reported to the council, saying the Council could only intervene if the matter was beyond the capacity of the district head.