By John Owen Nwachukwu,
A non-governmental organization, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has raised the alarm that the removal of Christian Religious Knowledge, CRK, from public school’s curriculum by the education ministry headed by Mallam Adamu Adamu is a sinister plot to cause inter-religious crisis in Nigeria.
The pro-democracy group further classified the Education Minister as an agent of destabilization of inter-religious harmony going by his arbitrary appointments of persons of the Islamic religious faith group to head the strategic educational agencies such as the National Universities Commission, NUC; Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB); Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, amongst others.
The statement signed by the group’s president, Emmanuel Onwubiko and made available to DAILYPOST, said, “We view this primordial inclination to favour his own religious orientation in the framing and implementation of national educational policies even when section 10 of the constitution of Nigeria has absolutely banned the elevation of any religion as state religion.
“We are aware of the very destabilizing plots to foist the study of Islamic religious study as compulsory subject in public secondary school even when the constitution in section 38 (1) and (2) provides that on no occasion will a strange religious faith be taught to students/pupils of different religious persuasions.
”Specifically section 38 (1) & (2) averred thus: (1) “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, practice and observance.
HURIWA reminded the Nigerian Presidency that sub-section (2) of section 38 of the Constitution affirmed that: “No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or attend any religious ceremony or observance if such instruction, ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his or a religion not approved by his parent or guardian.
It said that: “We have it on good authority that the current education minister has arbitrarily ordered that in the current curriculum, Islamic and Christian Religious Studies will no longer be studied in schools as subjects on their own but as themes in a civic education, adding that Islamic studies had however been made a compulsory alternative subject to French for students in sections of the curriculum.
The Rights group endorsed the position that since French teachers were scarce in the country as against a glut of Islamic teachers, Christian students would be forced to take Islamic Arabic Studies which is absolutely unconstitutional and amounts to an attempt to impose one religion as a state religion against constitutional provision in section 10.
HURIWA stated further; “We demand the restoration of both Islamic religious study and Christian religious knowledge as subjects in public school just as we hereby ask that an alternative subject to be called African traditional religious study to be introduced to balance the religious equation in Nigeria.
“We totally condemn this attempt by the education Minister to promote his own religion using public office and resources even when the Nigerian constitution frowns against such extralegal inclination. We warn that this attitude of Mallam Adamu Adamu can only promote religious disharmony and could precipitate religious war. We call for the observance of Federal character principle in the appointments of key officials in the Education ministry.”