Posted by News Express | 14 April 2014 | 35,448 times
Unknown to most people in religiously divided Nigeria, the best Islamic secondary school in the country is not located in the Muslim-dominated North but in the largely Christian South-East, specifically in Afikpo, Ebonyi State.
Now there are plans to turn the school, known as Islamic Centre, Afikpo, into an Islamic University. This was disclosed by Sheikh Daud Nwagui, the Headmaster of the primary section of the school, who told the Daily Trust newspaper: “We hope to turn the school into a university, that is a university of Islamic studies. There is no school like this in the whole of the South-East.”
The hilly Afikpo town boasts the highest number of Igbo Muslims in the South-East, followed by the university town of Nsukka in neighbouring Enugu State. The Islamic Centre, Afikpo, was founded by Sheikh Ibrahim Okpani Nwagui, the father of the present headmaster, who brought Islam to Afikpo in 1958.
According to Sheikh Daud Nwagui, his late father embraced Islam in Senegal and promptly introduced the religion to his people when he returned to Nigeria in 1958.
“From that time a lot of people in the vicinity were turning to Islam. He was a very sincere person, and he was like this till his very last days. He was the founder of the Islamic Centre, Afikpo,” he said, adding: “This centre was set up in 1965 to propagate Islam generally. This is the best Islamic secondary school in the nation, and students come from all over the country, including Abuja.”
The Islamic Centre, Afikpo, has a primary and a secondary section. There are 450 pupils in the primary section, while the secondary section has some 500 pupils. Students write the NECO and SSCE examinations, just like other students in Nigerian secondary schools. The school has three boarding houses. A computer laboratory is under construction at the school.
Sheikh Daud Nwagui told Daily Trust that there is a special focus on Arabic as a language, on Islamic studies, physics, English Language, Biology, Chemistry, English Literature, Mathematics and Igbo. This, he explained, assists in producing a crop of rounded pupils.
The headmaster disclosed that graduates of the school have risen to prominent positions in the society. Many, he said, have done well in the areas of medicine, some are in the armed forces, also in engineering, and many have risen to become Chief Imams in many states of the federation.
Some graduates, Sheikh Daud Nwagui disclosed, are outside the country and doing very well in places such as Pakistan and India.
On challenges which the school has faced over the years, Sheikh Nwagui said that some form of challenge has come from those he described as ‘religious fanatics in the neighbourhood’ but quickly added: “But from the government of the state we are covered. The government gives us a lot of support.”
•Photo shows Sheikh Daud Nwagui, brainchild behind the proposed Islamic University to be sited in Afikpo, Ebonyi State.
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