JUSTICE IS CLOSE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS; A REJOINDER TO DR. OLUFUNKE ADEGOKE (DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN) By Dr. Ayobami Raheem
In contributing to the ongoing narrative about Hijab controversy that is rocking International School, University of Ibadan, Ibadan (ISI), one Dr Olufunke Adegoke of Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan threw caution and logic into the wind and stirred up hornet’s nest with her technically deficient, highly provocative and unscholastic submission.
And one wonders how such an article could have originated from a ‘presumably’ PhD holder and a doctor lecturer from University of Ibadan because it lacks logic and consistency and is filled with vituperation and fetid vomit in a supposed contribution to a matter of national discourse. This rejoinder was conceived to refute some of her claims, set the records straight and also pay her back in her own coins with some little words of chastisement and admonition.
You will recall that the agitation for Hijab started on November 12, 2018 when some Muslims female students appeared with Hijab atop their uniform. This practice followed an earlier letter written to the school principal on this matter with copies sent to other necessary offices. The letter was dated October 29, 2018 to intimate the school about their intention to make their children (female students) of the school commence wearing Hijab and ended with a clause to discuss and shed more light on the matter if necessary.
For the purpose of clarity, it is better to highlight the series of events occurring during these periods on a daily basis as follows:
Monday, November 12, 2018: Students in their tens wore Hijab to school and similar to playing out a well-rehearsed script, management quickly cancelled the assembly for the day and no teaching took place throughout the whole day.
Tuesday, November 13: An emergency Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting was convened. Unfortunately, the session became rowdy and chaotic as the few Muslim parents that are pro-hijab were overwhelmed and shouted down before making their point which culminated in their walking-out of the meeting. In fact, some Christian parents insisted in the meeting they couldn’t stand having their children in the same class with a Hijab-wearing student. Of course, the resolution of the meeting was to maintain status quo that is, apparently banning Hijab usage in the school.
Wednesday November 14: Many students came again with Hijab. After the parents had departed and with the school gates firmly locked, the principal Mrs Phabean Olowe deployed several teachers to intimidate, coerce and forcefully compelled these young girls to do away with their Hijab. They succeeded to brainwash all the students to remove their Hijab except 8 of them. These resilient 8 students were locked up in the library and guarded by security men like a ‘terrorist’ such that if one of them wanted to ease herself, all of them would be asked to follow. They remained in this captivity-like state until the end of the day. To add insult to injury, two tests were quickly conducted across various classes that these uncompromising 8 students belong, to put them at academic disadvantage compared to their peers.
Also, on this day, the meeting of the governing council chaired by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic was held to issue a statement of no Hijab policy ratifying the outcome and resolution of the previous day PTA meeting.
Thursday, November 15: The number of the students with Hijab increased to 9. They were not allowed to gain entrance into the school and were locked outside the school premises throughout the whole day
Friday, November 16: The number of the students again increased to 10. They were not allowed to gain entrance into the school and were locked out throughout the whole day.
Monday, November 19: Students in Hijab were meant to be locked out as was done in the previous week. Oyo State Muslim community in collaboration with UI Muslim community staged a peaceful protest. Police officers from Sango Police Station were invited but were surprised to see a peaceful protest with no arms as against what they were told before coming. The school was closed till further notice.
Wednesday November 21: The Christian parents had their own demonstration to the office of the Vice Chancellor restating their disagreement over the use of Hijab. To give the protest a wider spectrum, dramatis personae of the event include a traditional ‘Ifa’ worshipers.
These are main events to the best of my knowledge. I have deliberately left out the various private meetings and consultations by the two groups to brainstorm on how to champion their individual courses.
Since the beginning of this struggle on November 12, 2018 and following the closure of the school on November 19, 2018, many scholastic treatises have been written to argue in favour or against this agitation. I have read articles of Dr Bayo Kolade (myclassmate in University of Ibadan in the 90s), Fisayo Soyomba (in Sahara reporter), Dr Kunle Akanni and many others, most of which are excellent and products of scholar work on their own with individual authors trying to convince their diverse audience to accept their standpoint with reason and logic as well as sound evidence as I am trying to do in support of Hijab in this piece. However, the article written by Dr Olufunke Adegoke lacks logic and consistency and is filled with vituperation and fetid vomit, focusing more on raining words of abuse and castigating prominent principal personalities of the Hijab advocate. Unfortunately, these people are far older and greater than her by all human and Godly (if it exist) standards imaginable. And I wonder how such an article could have originated from a doctor lecturer of University of Ibadan and from department of Sociology for that matter.
Certainly, this page will not be enough to deal with many flaws in the article on technical ground. It is unlike me to cause boredom and burden to my audience and for the purpose of simplicity and clarity, let’s highlight only four aspects of her submission under the following sub-headings;
1. HISTORICAL CONTEXT; Adegoke went into a long history of the School in a copy and paste stylish manner from Wikipedia. I hope she understands that Wikipedia is not a credible reference source and is not acceptable in academic writing (such as thesis writing and journal manuscript). If a child was not told a tale story, he or she would have heard history, while the latter is legend compared to the former. She was boasting that Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) is presently offered in the school. Perhaps, the history marking the commencement of IRK at ISI is much more earlier than the appointment of Adegoke at University of Ibadan. It was dated as far back as 1991, (during my undergraduate days though) when Prof Obeamata was the Chairman of ISI governing council. As a sociologist, it is within the purview of her field and it will be rewarding (as an academic exercise) for her to dig the historicity of this matter and revert back to see whether teaching of IRK in ISI that commenced that time was accepted on silver platter and not faced with similar confrontation.
2. NO HEADCOVER; Adegoke stated with emphasis using capital letter to indicate that NO HEADCOVER was specifically used in the ISI dressing code and that meant no scarf, no beret or Hijab according to her. However, the last time I checked the dressing code of ISI, the phrase ‘No headcover’ was not there and I wonder from where she got her dressing code that contains ‘No head cover’, hoping it’s not a figment of her imagination or an import from understanding that it is the school old tradition. Relying on the latter without any formal documentation to that effect as a source of rule will be an argument from silence and does not hold water because Hijab usage is not outrightly or specifically banned in the school dressing code. Assuming it is explicitly stated in the dressing code; such an archaic tradition does not stand the test of modern times and non-compliance with Nigerian constitution, and hence, may have to be amended to comply with the demand of our time. We cannot be more catholic than the Pope. Hijab is allowed in UK public schools. Recently, a 181-year-old-rule in United States of America was amended to please a newly elected Muslim woman, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar.
3. TEACHING US CONCEPT OF HIJAB IN ISLAM; Adenike demonstrated being a jack of all trades and master of none. Rather than leaving Hijab matter for our ‘Mathias’, She wants to teach us our religion by saying Hijab has nothing to do with Islam but a culture of the desert region of Arabia to avoid sand getting into their eyes. Too bad for an academia of national repute from a premier University of Ibadan. Being a Christian is not a justification for exhibiting such ignorance. A researcher of repute will want to do little findings on a subject of discourse before going ahead to say a word on the topic.
4. COMPARING ISI WITH BOWEN UNIVERSITY; The writer went ahead to compare ISI with Bowen University and asked a rhetoric question, can Muslims go and enforce Hijab in Bowen? This comparison lacks logic on two grounds. It is common sense to compare only likes with likes. Bowen is a tertiary institution and in no way should be compared with ISI, a secondary school except the comparison was based on Adegoke’s imaginary “Christian-owned perspective’. Or is she indicating ISI is a Christian owned private school because of her import that ISI was established by Kurt Hahn, a Christian?
Secondly, my inquisitive instinct propelled me to peruse the Bowen rules and regulations on dressing code and did not see anything that forbids Hijab. In facts most of the codes restricting excessive make up, attachment, artificial nails and bleaching etc if totally restricted and not partial as they appear on the codes now will comply with Islamic doctrine on lady’s dressing. Therefore, by inference, Muslims may not want to send their daughters to Bowen however If one does, I don’t think Bowen will disallow her using Hijab because it is not legislated against in the dressing code. You can check it out yourself at:
The principal of ISI, Madam Phabean Olowe seemed to be acting on instructions from above. Better still, I strongly believe such instructions could have been executed with some elements of compassion. Her status as loco parentis to all these students irrespective of their religion affiliations forbids maltreatment of all forms. I am constrained to say that the captivity-like treatment meted out to these 8 students on November 14 is akin to molestation of a girl child. Those callous treatments were uncalled for and have really added fuel to the flame of the crisis. Besides, they also contravened United Nations declaration on child right.
The private/public ownership of ISI is not in doubt. It is 100% privately owned by University of Ibadan while UI is an institution wholly owned by the public. Applying the principle of ‘the owner of a slave owns the property of the slave’, ISI is indirectly owned by the public through UI. If you think otherwise, kindly intimate us with the private owners of the ISI equity and their percentage shareholding? It is not impossible, I may not know.
Coincidentally, the Chairman of the governing council and the chairman of PTA are Muslims and many have come out to condemn their roles on the Hijab matter in ISI. Personally, I am not surprised and I don’t expect them doing otherwise. They are really at a dilemma since they won’t want to be seen as bias in favour of Islam. Better still, may be they could have treated the letter of notice written earlier by the Muslim parents on the use of Hijab with great concern and urgency and not with a pinch of salt as was done with this case. Dialogue and compromise is difficult after frayed nerves.
The earlier the impasse is resolved the better for the students of ISI whose 2nd term examination is fast approaching and better for the image of the university. The international communities are watching and this is really a litmus test for the university as a host to seasoned conflict management experts at the Institute of Peace and Strategic studies. Presently, it seems the two groups are not ready to sheathe their swords. The small number of the Muslim parents should not be taken for granted especially when the right to use Hijab is granted and enshrined in our constitution and the practice is the norm elsewhere like United Kingdom. In developed nations, right of the minority is guaranteed, particularly when such right is not capable of inflicting any injury on others or trespassing another people’s right. The earlier reference to Ilhan Omar right to wear Hijab in the US congress lays credence to this line of thought. The same way the Christians or others opposing Hijab have nothing, practically nothing to lose with Muslim female students wearing Hijab. Therefore they should stop playing a dog in the manger. In the end, the court may be the final deciding factor. It is important to note that with precedents of similar cases at Osun and Lagos States in recent time,the Hijab may pass. This is the r’aison d’eter for the opponent of Hijab trying to avoid litigation on the matter.
I am a proud product of UI any day anytime. Though I work in the far way eastern region of the country now, UI is my second home and my final abode career wise if God willing. I am aware my alma matter is nulli secundus in academic pursuit in Nigeria. Indeed, UI is endowed with adequate competent human capacity and arsenal of intelligentsia in almost all fields of academic endeavour. In every twelve disciples there must be one Judas Iscariot. Therefore, once a while, it is not out of point to do SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis and human resources audit of the whole system to identify gaps to be filled and core competence to be consolidated for sustainance of the university competitive advantage as a leading university in Nigeria and Africa. Such evaluations will identify the ‘Judases’ in the system and suggest ways of dealing with them especially in form of re-training and re-positioning because cutting off the head is never a cure of headache.
Finally on the little words of admonition, the excuse of Dr Olufunke Adegoke being a young lecturer that needs time to grow is not tenable because she has a PhD in Sociology while human behavior and conflict management are integral parts of Sociology. Without disrespect, Adegoke has to shed wing of pride in her and removed her toga of ineptitude and overzealousness. She needs to undergo tutelage under eminent scholars in her field of endeavour. I will personally recommend Prof Adeyinka Aderinto the DVC academic, who is coincidentally in the same department/field with Adegoke. Nomet quad nom habitet! You can’t give what you don’t have, however, there is hardly anything you can’t have with submissiveness, diligence, persistence, humbleness and humility.
Justice is close to righteousness.
© Dr Ayobami RAHEEM (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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