A Minister’s bigoted agenda

Posted by News Express | 5 July 2017 | 1,764 times

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There is little doubt that the current Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, has displayed overwhelming aversion and repulsion for other faith-based affiliations in the determination of who to appoint into strategic national educational positions. 

He is reported to have so marginalised his better-qualified colleague, the Minister of State for Education, Prof Anthony Onwuka, to an extent that he made the man's daughter-in-law a member of an unattractive board of one rural federal college of education in a remote part of Rivers State, which even made the parents of the girl, Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, and his wife to denounce this awkward appointment.   

Since coming into office, this Kaduna-based newspaper columnist with no knowledge or experience of the educational system of Nigeria is alleged to have embarked on the deliberate planting of hardcore Islamists into key educational policy-making bodies, including but not limited to the National Universities Commission (NUC), Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC);  Tertiary Educational Trust Fund (TETFUND) Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), amongst other strategic positions and board chairmanships.

Indeed, the man manning the high office of the Executive Secretary of Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, Ishaq Oloyode, Professor of Islamic Studies, is still the secretary-general of the Islamic National Council of Nigeria. You can now imagine why the erstwhile executive secretary, with better qualification in core educational field, was substituted with a professor of Islamic studies, who still clings on to his religious job. 

Prof Dibu Ojerinde, who was removed as JAMB Executive Secretary by Adamu Adamu, is a reputable Professor of Test and Measurement in the education faculty. 

These one-sided appointments in the Education ministry, headed by a newspaper columnist, are in clear breach of the Federal Character principle enshrined in section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). For the purpose of direct emphasis, the above constitutional provision states: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria, and the need to promote national unity and, also, to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.”

These clear infractions and vexatious violations of the federal character principle may have occurred unchallenged because, it is even said that the Federal Character Commission which is as an institution set up to safeguard this sacred provision is itself in clear breach of the law, as  both the chairperson (Shettima Bukar-Abba) and the secretary (Mohammed Bello) are from the northern section of Nigeria.

Besides, this highly inexperienced Education minister may have derived motivation to sideline other ethno-religious citizens of Nigeria because, the appointing authority for now, the President, is directly in breach of the federal character provision, by concentrating top-flight appointments to the Muslim Hausa/Fulani of Nigeria, in both strategic defence portfolios and many other juicy top-level national offices. 

At first, when President Muhammadu Buhari named this little-known newspaper columnist as the substantive Education minister and downgraded a former university professor and erstwhile vice-chancellor of the Imo state University, to become the minister of state under a neophyte, controversy flared up.  

Questions were asked as to why the President elevated nepotism to the front-burner and relegated merit and competence to the backyard. 

Malam Adamu assumed duty and displayed some crass incompetence by hand-picking persons of his own religious background as key office-holders in the Federal Ministry of Education.

The behavioural tendencies of the Minister of Education reminds me of what Amy Cuddy, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University,  wrote in her latest work: that people judge you based on two criteria when they meet you. In her new book entitled PRESENCE, she says that people quickly seek an answer to two questions when they first meet you: First, can I trust this person? Secondly, can I respect this person? 

Psychologists call these factors warmth and competence. Ideally, you will want to be perceived as having both. With the furore raised due to the bigoted actions of the Education minister, it does appear that he may score double negatives, if those two questions are asked about him. 

Anyway, the foregoing is not the fulcrum of this piece, because what we are set to speak about is even much more toxic to an extent that if no remedial steps are adopted immediately, there is the possibility of a religious war flaring all across Nigeria; going by the fact that it is impossible for the Education minister to successfully seek to impose the study of Arabic or Islamic Studies on non-Muslims.

The controversial and criminal downgrading of Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) to the less-fancied position of a sub-theme within the so-called Civic Education is unconstitutional and, indeed, a declaration of an unholy war against the Christian religion in Nigeria.

In section 38 (2) of the Constitution, it is as clear as the sunlight that the Nigerian government cannot remove the teaching of either Christian religious knowledge or Islamic religious knowledge (IRK), because of the strategic constitutional importance. It is even much more dubious and vicious when CRK is downgraded, whereas IRK is smuggled in through the back-door by making it a compulsory subject in place of French. 

Section 38 (2) states: “No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or to attend any religious ceremony or observance, if such instruction, ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own or a religion not approved by his parent or guardian.”

The clear and emphatic wordings of section 38(2) of the Constitution, which employs the word SHALL, implies that it is a legal duty upon government to ensure compliance. 

So it is incumbent on the Federal Government to ensure that the removal, through subterfuge, of the teaching of Christian Religious knowledge is reversed and the subject restored with immediate effect.

This writer, after extensively understudying the tepid response from the Education minister on this needless crime of substituting CRK, is hereby urging the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbanjo, to do everything within his constitutional power to save Nigeria from imminent religious war, because of the deliberate demotion of the Christian religion in the curriculum of public schools.  

This evil plot is a declaration of war. It goes against everything that public policy formulation and implementation represent. Moreover, the indirect attempt in a brazen format by the Minister of education and his director-general of the Nigerian Educational Development and Research Council to indoctrinate and brainwash children born into the Christian community is a crime against humanity. 

Cyril Connolly rightly stated, that, “Only a man of faith who sincerely follows his religion becomes happy. In my religion, there would be no exclusive doctrine: all would be love, poetry, and doubt.” 

What Adamu Adamu seeks to achieve by downgrading the teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge and making it only a subset of the unrelated Civic Education is to deny children born to Christian homes their God-given happiness and love that can only come from a sound knowledge of their religious beliefs and system. 

To even super-impose the pagan question, which implicitly plants a doubt in the minds of students on the divinity of Jesus Christ as a segment of the Civic Education, is provocative. 

The perceived dangers packaged in the new Curriculum of Education has brought the document to the fore since the leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) raised the issue in a meeting with the Acting President Osinbajo, and asked the government to ensure there is no discrimination against any student, because of religious beliefs, in our public schools. ‎

Speaking through its president, Rev Dr Samson Olasupo A Ayokunle, the umbrella body of all Christians in the country foresaw the danger ahead, if the curriculum that merged Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Religious Knowledge with Civic Education is made to stay. The association also noted some perceived discriminations against Christian students in the curriculum. 

His words: “In this curriculum, Islamic and Christian Religious Studies will no longer be studied in schools as subjects on their own, but as themes in Civic Education. This undermines the sound moral values that these two subjects had imparted in the past to our children, which had made us to religiously and ethnically co-exist without any tension.

 “Islamic Religious Knowledge was equally made available as a subject in another section, without any corresponding availability of Christian Religious Knowledge. Is this not a divisive curriculum that can set the nation on fire? Is this fair to millions of Christians in this nation?”

To buttress his point, the CAN president cited a case in Kwara State where a student was punished for refusing to register for Islamic Religious Knowledge.

 “A Christian student in a secondary school in Kwara State had his body lacerated with cane by the Arabic Teacher, because the pupil refused to do Islamic Religious Knowledge, when French teacher was not available and Christian Religious Knowledge, Hebrew or Greek was not part of the options at all.”

 But in a swift reaction, the Federal Ministry of Education debunked the claims that Christian Religious Knowledge had been removed as a subject of study from the secondary school curriculum, and Islamic Religious Studies reintroduced.

 According to the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Education, Mrs Chinenye Ihuoma, the ministry has only designed a new subject, which merged Civic Education, IRS, CRK and Social Studies into “Religion and National Values.”

 But her words, to say the least, confirmed the well-grounded fear of the national Christian platform. She said that the ministry has designed a new subject which merged Civic Education, IRS, CRK and Social Studies into “Religion and National Values.”

The man heading the National Education Development and Research Council contradicted his minister by insisting that CRK and IRK are still distinct subjects. How could these two public officers be speaking from both sides of their mouth on a clear policy matter, which is written in black and white and already read by diverse groups, including the national hierarchy of Christians?

The man in the Education Research and Development Council faulted his minister when he asserted: “CRK is not a theme in Civic Education. Civic Education is a distinct subject on its own which teaches the rudiments of good citizenship.”

This position contradicts that of the ministry. He went further to disclose a directive given by the minister on the merger, which the ministry under his watch claims has not been implemented.

 His words: “For the avoidance of doubt, the last review of the curriculum was approved in 2013 and implementation commenced in September, 2014. In both instances, neither the Christian Religious Knowledge nor Islamic Studies was removed from the curriculum.

 “In fact, at the commencement of the present administration, the Minister of Education sought and obtained the approval of the National Council on Education to make Christian Religious Knowledge compulsory for all Christian students and Islamic Studies compulsory for their Muslim counterparts.

 “Efforts are in top gear to print the Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Studies Curriculum separately, in order to maintain their characteristics and distinctiveness.

 “In this curriculum, no child should be coerced or compelled to learn or be taught in school any religious studies subject, but only one (out of the two) that restrictively relates to the belief system professed by the child and his/her parents.”

The Christian Association of Nigeria also raised another key point, thus: “If the new curriculum is treating the two religious subjects separately, as being claimed, why do we have a satanic topic in the Civic Education like 'Is Jesus the Son of God?’ Or is the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who disclosed to CAN leadership that this was in the curriculum he earlier saw, lying too?” 

These historical and or deliberate half-truths are a total abuse of the essence of public policy formulation and implementation.  

 RK Sapru, in his book, Public policy: Formulation, Implementation and Evaluation, stressed that public policy inputs are demands made on the political systems by individuals and groups for action or inaction about some perceived problems. Such demands, the writer said, may include a general insistence that government should do something to a proposal for specific action or the other. 

If I may ask, what is the problem inherent in the teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge and Islamic Religious Knowledge? If these two courses are wrong, why does the Constitution recognise that students be educated in the religious beliefs of their parents, so long as they are not yet up to the age of consent. 

The Universal Declarations of HUMAN RIGHTS and all other international human rights laws recognise the teaching of religious beliefs of parents to students. 

The above public policy book also affirmed: “In the political system model, outputs are regarded either as effects on the environment or as ‘feedback’ to the political supporters of the system. Easton says that outputs are said to constitute a body or specific inducements of the members of a political system to support given, or by socialisation into the political norms of the society.”

In other words, policy outputs are the actual decisions of the implementers. Theory is what the government does, as distinguished from what it says it is going to do. 

Writing further, the author stated: “Examples of policy outputs relate to such matters as the educational institutions built, taxes collected. Compensation paid, or curbs on trade eliminated. Outcomes are real, whether intended or unintended.

“In the final analysis, the success of public administration of development can be measured only in relation to the implementation, which is of critical importance to the success of government.” 

The writer also reminds us that, “However good the political system, however noble the goals, however sound the organisational system, no policies can succeed if the implementation does not bear relationship to the intensions of the policy adopters.” 

A dispassionate assessment of the defence put up by the Federal Ministry of Education under Malam Adamu and his Director-General of the National Education Development and Research Council, which contradicts each other, shows the wide gap between what bad intention that there is in the bigoted actions of these officials, who are misusing  their public office to frame national education policy that would alienate a greater chunk of the Nigerian population in the guise of attempting to introduce a new curriculum for public schools. 

This plot amounts to an unmitigated evil that must be exorcised, if we must avoid witnessing religious war. 

RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). He can be reached via 08033327672 (sms only) or via doziebiko@yahoo.com

Source: News Express

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