* Atunwa calls for caution
Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
The 10 schools shut by the Kwara State Government in the wake of the controversy over the wearing of Hijab yesterday opened for academic activities in accordance with the latest directive of the state government as principals, teachers and other staff were at their duty posts although students of the affected schools were conspicuously absent.
Meanwhile, the Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general elections in Kwara State, Rt. Hon. Razak Atunwa, has appealed to the Muslims and Christians to exercise restraint, display maturity, tolerance and brotherhood over the wearing of Hijab in schools in the state.
The affected schools 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.
According to government’s directive on Thursday, students were not expected to resume on Friday, although investigations showed that some parents had resolved not to release their students unless their safety was assured.
The government, in the statement issued by the Chairman of the State Teaching Service Commission, Mallam Bello Tahueed Abubakar, threatened to bring the full weight of the law on any of the school principals and teachers who refused to resume for duties.
As early as 8.30a.m. yesterday, the affected principals and teachers were around in their respective schools to resume for duties as directed by the government, while the students were nowhere to be found.
It was gathered that apart from Surulere Baptist Secondary School whose main gate had been damaged and remained open since Wednesday during the violent clash between the Muslims and the Christians, all the gates of other schools remained under lock and key.
A visit by our correspondent to some of the affected schools yesterday showed the presence of Christian faithful at the main gates of the schools.
Even, some schools which were locked had some loads of sand deposited at their main gates to prevent any movement into the schools.
The development however prompted the government officials to break the locked gates so as to allow easy movement into the school premises.
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.
Atunwa in a statement issued in Ilorin yesterday and made available to journalists however stated that, “the current ugly situation amounts to a complete failure of governance that this issue could not be tackled and resolved promptly.”
He said that, “First and foremost, I would like to urge all the good people of Ilorin, Muslims and Christians alike, to exercise restraint, and display the maturity, tolerance and brotherhood that we are known for. Kwara State is a State of Harmony. We should continue to live up to that name.
“However, whilst I do not seek to politicise the issue, it must be observed that this heightened tension and violence has been enabled by the complete and utter incompetence and mishandling by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
“He (governor) has allowed what is clearly a treatable issue to fester until it has become a dynamite waiting to explode”.
Atunwa added, “The blame must fall squarely on the Governor because it is of his own doing that he does not have a Commissioner for Education, or indeed a cabinet, that would have handled the issue.
“To make matters worse, the Governor himself has clearly not been concerned. He has made no statement on the crisis.
“He (governor) has failed to call a meeting of all the relevant stakeholders to try and resolve the issue. Instead, he has taken some ill-timed, haphazard, half-hearted, and misconceived unilateral actions which have only exacerbated the crisis.
The PDP chieftain stated further that, “Closing down schools and then ordering them to reopen without resolving the immediate and remote cause of the issue could only lead to this outcome.
“What was, and is required, is for the Government to immediately bring together all concerned stakeholders including head teachers, parents representatives, school authorities, religious leaders, and community leaders to address the underlying cause that triggered the issue in the first place.
“In the absence of a competent and effective government, I humbly and respectfully call on all religious leaders and community leaders to please come together and work out a way to stem this most ugly tide.
“Both religions have harmoniously coexisted in Kwara since time immemorial. Religion has never created violence between us. We cannot afford that to happen now”, the PDP chieftain said.