By Sam Eyoboka
LAGOS — CATHOLIC Archbishop emeritus of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, and other eminent Christians have welcomed recent directive by Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, directing the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, NERDC, to make the Christian Religious Knowledge and the Islamic Religious Knowledge distinctive subjects in the basic education curriculum.
The Christians who had been at daggers drawn with the Federal Government over the controversial merger of the two subjects to be known as Religion and National Values without the imput of stakeholders from the Christian community, greeted the new development, describing it as a temporary victory.
Reacting to the news, National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle; Cardinal Okogie; CAN Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake; PFN President, Rev. Felix Omobude, and others welcomed the development with cautious optimism, arguing that the arguments have further confirmed fear of plans to Islamise the nation.
They were unanimous in their belief that the victory was a temporary one because they are gradually scheming to actualise their dream of Islamising the nation by all means, warning, however, that care must be taken to avoid a silent revolution capable of defiling military intervention.
Okogie, the pioneer CAN president, in a telephone interview, said he had dismissed fears about plans to Islamise Nigeria but lately had reasons to review his earlier stand, recalling that when the Ibrahim Babangida dragged Nigeria into OIC, they asked several questions on how to become members of the organisation.
Okogie lamented that there are several “fake” Christians who were willing to sell their conscience to assist the Islamic agenda, saying: “I was the CAN president and I led the Christian delegation to that meeting in Abuja while the government was trying to lobby us to sympathise with their cause.”
According to the CAN president, the other thing the Federal Government must address is that, of all the 19 states in the North, more than 15 have no CRK teachers.
He said: “Even if we agree that CRK should stand on its own, who will teach the CRK when state governments refuse to recruit teachers that can handle the subject?
“In Niger State, for instance, during the Babangida Aliyu administration, there were no CRK teachers and CAN in the state recruited teachers and submitted the list to the state governor, but he told the CAN leadership that he had no money to pay them.
“The same thing is happening in Sokoto, Kebbi, Jigawa, Borno, Bauchi where CRK is not allowed in their schools because there are no teachers to teach the subject. So, in addition to what has been done, the Federal Government should take an additional step to make the states to employ teachers for this subject,” he prayed.
Ayokunle further argued that since the basic education derives its funding from the centre, the Federal Government should direct the states in the North to recruit CRK teachers and in the same vein direct the states in the South to recruit IRK teachers to balance the equation.
Also speaking on the development, the CAN Secretary-General, Rev. Musa Asake, in his response, expressed happiness, saying: “We are so thankful to the Federal Government that has given a listening ear to the cry of the people and have taken an action to that which was going to destroy our togetherness.
“We thank God and the Federal Government. We pray that they will continue to have the wisdom to lead us and when controversial and difficult issues like this come up that will be able to divide us, they will be able to take actions as they have done. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Asake prayed.
The President of Nigerian Christian Graduates Forum, Prof. Charles Adeyinks Adisa who last week made a presentation to the Senate president on the vexed issue, also thanked God, adding that it was not yet uhuru as the battle is still very much ahead.
“We still have so many areas we need to cover. We have scheduled a meeting with the National Universities Commission, NUC, for Tuesday over the compulsory Arabic language for students studying certain cources and the issue of state governments that will not employ teachers for Christian Religious Studies.’’