I never ordered use of hijab in public schools —Aregbesola

For the first time since the issue of hijab generated controversy following the Osun State High Court judgment which allowed female students to wear Islamic veil to public schools, Osun State governor, on Monday, declared that  neither his government,  nor himself ever ordered the use of hijab by female Muslim students in public schools in the state.

Aregbesola stated this at a roundtable on Development Collaborative Framework for Education Development and Advancement, organised by the Development and Advancement in Western Nigeria (DAWN), in Osogbo.

He challenged openly those who accused him of ordering the use of hijab by Muslims to bring concrete proof to substantiate their mischievous claims.

Aregbesola contended that those accusing him of plunging the state into religious crisis should present a video or voice recording, written speech evidencing where he commanded or ordered female Muslim students to wear hijab on their uniforms.

He averred that all programmes introduced into the state’s education rebranding were outcome of the resolutions an education summit organised by his administration shortly after coming into office.

Aregbesola noted that the resolution of the summit, headed by Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, never considered nor recommended any religion.

Speaking on education in the South-West, the governor noted that the downward trend in education should be worrisome due to the role of education in development and bringing enlightenment to the human mind, platform for leadership recruitment and the means for character building and good citizenship.

Aregbesola further stated that when he came to government, the first task of his administration was to convene an education summit which was chaired by Professor Wole Soyinka, adding that all  interventions of government in education, since inception, came from the recommendations of the summit and was nothing about religion.

According to him,”There is nothing religious in any of our policies. The fact on ground contradicts our opposition’s claim. The choice of my deputy governor tells it all, I knew she is a pentecotalist of the highest order before I picked her. Everything we have done in the line of education is in line with the resolution of our education summit.

“Against all speculations, I have not ordered the use of Hijab, I challenge anybody with evidence to come out and show that I have made a proclamation on Hijab.

“If I have permitted Hijab, will the Muslims have gone to court to challenge it, is that not contradictory?. Is it a crime that I am a Muslim, is it because I struggle to be a good Muslim that everything I do is being misunderstood?. I think I don’t deserve all these lies against me.”

Earlier, the deputy governor, Mrs Titi Laoye- Tomori, described the gathering as one that would help restore the lost glory of the South-west educational sector.

Meanwhile, the controversy took a new dimension on Monday, when some Muslim clerics in the state stormed St. Charles High School in Osogbo and Ife Oluwa Middle Schools to enforce the implementation of the ruling.

Nigerian Tribune reliably gathered that the Muslim clerics, who arrived the school premises around 8.00 a.m. said they were there to enforce the wearing of hijab, considering the June 3, 2016 court judgment delivered by Justice Jide Falola.

However, the principal of the St. Charles High School, Mr Anthony Famoriyo, was said to have  told them that he could not accede to their request because he was yet to be directed by the Ministry of Education to that effect.

When contacted, Famoriyo said no teacher would prevent any student from wearing hijab the moment they received such directive from the state government.

But, when  the Nigerian Tribune visited the school, there was calm, as some  students of the school were spotted engaging in calisthenic training.

Meanwhile, the South-West zone of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), would be coming to Osun State tomorrow (Wednesday) to give solidarity to state chapter of the body against the use of hijab in schools.