By Demola Akinyemi – Ilorin
Kwara state government in fulfillment of its threat on Friday morning opened the ten missionary schools shut over the hijab controversy.
According to the government directive on Thursday, students were not expected to resume on Friday, even though the parents according to my findings have resolved not to release their students unless their safety is assured.
The government in the statement issued by the Executive Chairman of the Kwara State Teaching Service Commission, Mall. Bello Tahueed Abubakar warned of its full wrath on any of the school principals and teachers who refused to resume for duties today.
So, the anxious teachers as early as 830am were around in their respective schools to resume duties as directed by the government, while the students were nowhere to be found.
Vanguard reliably gathered that apart from Surulere Baptist Secondary school whose main gate had been damaged and remained opened since Wednesday during the violent clash between the Muslims and the Christians, all the gates of other schools remained under lock and key.
Government officials went round the schools one after the other to break the gates opened, to enable the teacher’s entrance into the school premises.
Vanguard also gathered that the churches in order to maintain their stance on their demands and disallowed entrance into the schools locked the school’s gate and held on to the keys.
The affected schools closed by the government are C&S College Sabo Oke, ST. Anthony College, Offa Road, ECWA School, Oja Iya, Surulere Baptist Secondary School, and Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam.
Others include CAC Secondary School Asa Dam, St. Barnabas Secondary School Sabo Oke, St. John School Maraba, and St. Williams Secondary School Taiwo Isale, St. James Secondary School Maraba, all in Ilorin, the state capital.
During Vanguard Correspondent’s monitoring Friday morning the teachers were seen sitting outside on the main road at Bishop Smith memorial college, along Agba Dam GRA, Ilorin, St Anthony College, at Offa Road, and others.
There was a delay of about two hours by the government officials in getting Welder or Carpenter who could break the gates as they technically declined even though they would be paid for the jobs.
Vanguard also gathered that the concerned associations with sympathy for Christians agitations might have held meetings to that effect.
But the government officials ultimately went to Zango area of ilorin were, three Hausa men who were recruited eventually carried out the jobs.
There was however a mild drama at St Anthony College Offa Road when the gates were being broken and few Christian leaders who were around helplessly looked on.
One, of them a young man who couldn’t hold the breath any longer started complaining aloud that the government was unfair to the Christians by forcing its decision on them.
The man who craved anonymity was raising his voice while talking to journalists said that Kwara state is owned by both the Muslims and the Christians and that it’s unfortunate that the governor is taking the side.
He said “The matter is in court, at the Supreme Court for that matter, and the issue for determination is the returning of the schools to the proprietors, not hijab. Now, why is this government making hijab an issue? when indeed, we have been living peacefully with one another ”
But another Muslim young who was also around was quick to defend the issue of Hijab as canvassed by the government.
He said though kwara state is largely seen as a Muslim state the kind of equity, tolerance, and justice being displayed by the government to the Christians do not exist anywhere.
“The government pays the salaries of the teachers, maintains these schools including all the administrative works, and still no Muslim has ever been posted as principal to any of these schools. Wearing hijab to school is just an excercise in the practice of our religion as enshrined even in our constitution, which should not be misconstrued. It’s not only here, it happens in few other states.”
The concerned Christians are obviously dejected at the development on Friday morning, but as conversations between the stakeholders continue, the resumption of students on Monday will determine how far the government has finally gone in settling the hijab crisis in the ten affected schools in Ilorin.