The Christian Association of Nigeria has called on the leadership of the National Assembly to suspend a bill before the House of Representatives seeking to institutionalize the use of hijab in the country.
The body described the bill as ill-timed and uncalled for.
The bill titled “Religious Discrimination (Prohibition, Prevention) Bill, 2021” according to a statement by CAN General Secretary, Joseph Bade Daramola, “is seeking to provide a mechanism for enforcing certain provisions of the Constitution and other international laws that recognizes the right of a female to adorn hijab in both public and private establishments in Nigeria.”
CAN wondered what those proposing the bill seek to gain.
Quoting the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the CAN states “National Assembly shall have the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part 1 of the Second Schedule to this Constitution.”
CAN then noted, “To what extent does this controversial bill seek to promote peace, order, and good governance? Has dress code become part of the Exclusive Legislative List? While the citizens are expecting the National Assembly to make laws that will address the lopsided appointments, insecurity, unemployment, and economic predicament, our lawmakers are interested in making laws that seek to promote one religion. This is totally unacceptable in a country with multiple religions.”
While declaring that wearing of hijab is not the problem of CAN, the body noted that it is the legislation of the wearing of it in private schools, especially of the schools whose proprietors have different culture to that of wearing of hijab that is the issue.
CAN wondered why a Muslim student would come to a Christian school that operates under different dressing culture and insists on her own culture? “That appears provocative and disrespectful! Legislating the wearing of hijab in private schools would lead to the trouble that those who started it may not be able to handle.
“Abandoning school uniforms for religious dressing is going to divide the students along religious lines and further polarize our society. Should the children of Ifa worshipper ( god of divination )wear Ifa costumes to the school as well, etc? Is that not going to bring confusion? Will the wearing of the religious dress make one student brighter in class than the other? What are we legislating for?”
CAN states further, “We are not against the wearing of hijab in public and Islamic schools but our schools should not be included unless those states are looking for trouble. We have resolved to close down our schools and colleges to protest against this ungodly and disrespectful policy. We should return to the status quo ante where we were before the politicization of hijab.
“Let those who want to be wearing hijab go to schools where it is allowed. Alternatively, let those state governments return our schools and stop funding them. We are able to manage them. We did not beg the government ab initio to partner with us.
“It was the government that couldn’t provide enough school that came in subtly to partner with us but now going another mile to take over completely. Can the government own what they did not spend their money to build? Those who took over our schools did not tell us that our religious traditions and culture would be eradicated.
“We call on all Christians in every legislative house, including the National Assembly, to arise and speak for the Church if they have not compromised their faith for political reasons and if they failed to do so, God Himself will ask them of their stewardship one day and equally fight for His Church.”
CAN also condemned in strong terms the assassination attempt on the life of the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, and charged the security agencies to investigate, arrest and prosecute the masterminds.
“We are worried, sad, shocked, disappointed, and pained at the collapse of the security architecture of the government and the failure of those in charge to rise up to the security challenges. If a state governor is unsafe despite all the security operatives in his convoy, then who is safe?” CAN queried.
While hoping that the Ortom issue will not be swept under the carpet, CAN states, “We are disappointed that the shadowy group, the Fulani Nationality Movement that claimed responsibility has not been outlawed and the herdsmen leaders who publicly threatened the Governor are still going about their businesses as if they have done nothing unusual.
“Is the government waiting till they have successfully carried out their evil and wicked enterprise? What are these people turning the country into in this century? If these murderous Fulani herdsmen are not Nigerians, as we are being told, why do our security agencies appear powerless before these criminals? Are they holding superior ammunitions? Are they waiting till everyone results in self-defense with the attendant consequence?
It then challenged the Federal government to roll out the names of the kingpins of those murderous herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits, and terrorists in the prison and Police custody and those under trials saying, “ As long as the government continues treating these criminals with kids gloves so also will they continue operating with impunity”
By our reporter