LEAGUE OF IMAMS & ALFAS ONDO STATE
THE RETURN OF SCHOOLS TO THE FAITH BASED ORGANIZATION (FBO’S): OUR STAND
The Gentle men and Ladies of the Press
Ladies and Gentle men
Greeting of peace from the Muslim Community of Ondo State. And Good day to you all.
We will recall that on the 3rd of March 2022 the progressive citizen of Ondo was awaken by a headline from all major news platform about the readiness of the Government of Ondo State to return schools to its “Original Owners”. Like if this is not enough to raise the tension within the stakeholder in Education in the state, the news went further to state that:
“Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has reiterated hi administration’s readiness to return missionary schools in the state to the original owners. The Governor disclosed that only the Catholic Church has signified interest to take over their schools in the state.
He said: “We have promised that we will return schools to the missionaries and we are keeping to our promise. It is only the Catholic Church that has shown interest.
“A group of people is opposed to it. Our position is that if you are not interested in takin ownership of your school, don’t discourage others. The Catholic has requested for two secondary schools and two primary schools. If you can run your school, come and take it.
“I know about Aquinas College. It is clean. The progress there is because of what the old boy association and “People that are ready to run their schools should come……
This Press Briefing is not aimed at analysing the veracity of the governors claim about the infrastructural development in Aquinas College and some other schools of similar historica background, but to alert people of Ondo State who are passion about Educational Prosperity of our Children on the danger and serious implications of the move by the Government of Arakunrin Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN) to hand over public schools to Faith Based Organisations (FBO’s).
Gentlemen of the Press, Progressive Citizen of our dear sunshine state. You will recall that at the dawn of this administration in 2017, this Government organised the first ever Education Summit under the coordination of Ministry of Education. The summit was aimed at repositioning the educational sector in the state. It should be on record that some cardinal errors were committed at the Summit which include the reduction of critical stake holders in the sectors to mere spectators. Bodies such as ANCOPSS, ASUSS, NUT, PTA NASU and a host of others were not given a paper to present nor allowed to discuss any of the paper presented.
Despite the Position of the Governor as orchestrated in his welcome speech and expressed in his body language. Agenda were raised and resolved progressively to the advantage of the state and the Prosperity of our Children. At the floor of the summit one of the agenda presented for discussion to over 2000 very important stake holders in Education of our dearest state was “THE RETURN OF SCHOOLS TO ITS ORIGINAL OWNER (Missionary)”.
At the summit when the agenda was presented, and it was the first to be read, the PTA, NUT, all critical stakeholders in Education in Ondo State and the entire Muslim community of Ondo state clearly rejected the idea because of the imminent dangers it poses to the educational development of our dear state. To cap the story up the agenda was later subjected to a voice vote and a thunderous and resounding NO resonates the main bowl of the Dome which was the venue of the summit. The resounding NO on the return of schools to FBO’S was echoed in the presence of the Catholics Arc Bishop of Ondo diocese (2017) the First Lady as well as CAN and Anglican Leadership, I believe these eminent personalities would not deny this fact.
Gentle Men of the Press Ladies and Gentlemen.
We thought the issue had been laid to rest when the Muslim leadership were called to an emergency meeting at the instance of His Eminence Sheikh Ahmad Aladesawe who is the Leader of the Muslim Community of Ondo state and the scribe to the League of Imams and Alfas Southwest, Edo and Delta States. At the meeting Baba told us that he was given a notification of his membership of a committee on “The Return of Schools to its Original Owner”! To say the least the entire Muslim Community of Ondo State was not only flabbergasted but was disappointed considering not only our active participation in the Education Summit but our unalloyed support and good wishes to the administration of Arakunrin Odunayo Akredolu SAN. The entire Muslim Leadership of the state condemned the move in unequivocal terms and a strong worded letter was written to his excellency Arakunrin Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, describing the move as insulting to the integrity of the entire Muslim Community and advising Arakunrin against such action stating its serious implication on the educational development of our state.
After our position was made clear through the letter signed by the Cardinal Leadership of the Muslim Community of Ondo State, we felt for the last time the issue have been fully laid to rest only for us to wake up to this disturbing news of: “Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, reiterating his administration’s readiness to return missionary schools in the state to the “Original Owners”. This to say the least is not only undemocratic and frustrating, It is disturbing going by the serious and catastrophic implications this resolution will have on the state educational development.
WHY THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY OF ONDO STATE IS REJECTING IDEA OF THE RETURN OF SCHOOLS TO FBO’S
Education is the strongest tools of empowerment and development, it is a major factor which distinguishes man from other animals, and it is a yard stick to measure the level of the development of a country and also to forecast its prospect, in fact it is said that no nation will develop above the level of it’s education. If education will be effective and productive achieving its aims and objectives for individual and the nation, then it must be provided in an atmosphere free of religious bigotry and discrimination which was the bane of Nigeria education when the FBO’S was its custodian. Education if it will address the social ills and security challenges the Country is facing must also be affordable, accessible and compulsory!
We want to say that the return of schools to FBO’S is archaic, barbaric, backward and non progressive. It is a call to return to the colonial era and above all, the call is contradictory to the electoral promises of the present administration. It is a call to hand over public properties to individuals in the name of Faith Based Organisations. It is a call to return to the dark era in the history of educational development in our nation, the call is fraudulent which is against progressive educational policy. It will result in more children being thrown out of schools, it is a I call to deny the children of the impoverished masses access to affordable and qualitative education in an atmosphere of religious freedom devoid of bigotry.
THE CALL IS HEARTLESS
The idea of the “Original Owner” of the school is fraudulent as it is a call to hand over government property to cooperate bodies in the name of FBO’s. The question that have been begging for answer whenever the issue of the return of schools to the “Original Owner” is raised is, if the FBO’S are claiming the schools originally belongs to them what do we say about the huge amount of money the government used in compensating them (even though some of the organizations are denying this historical fact) when the schools were acquired in the 70’s, are they ready to refund the money in its true value i.e. 2 dollars to one naira, or are they ready to buy the school in its present value?, if the answer is yes, Then we think the government is morally bound to publish the memorandum of understanding they signed with the alleged “Owners” before the conclusion of handing over the schools to them. We want to say clearly that the idea of the “Original Owner” is nothing but a cheap propaganda in other to arouse unwarranted sympathy from the innocent masses who are ignorant of the consequences of this heartless request.
It will be a bad precedence, an ungodly act and the fraud of the century that the property that we (Muslim, Christian and traditional believers) owned together under the government trust to be handed over to profit oriented organisation under the guise of been original owner or FBO’S after acquisition, full compensation and heavy investment on the school by the government using the Tax payers hard earned resources.
GOVERNMENT POLICY ON EDUCATION
If one of the policy of the government on education is aimed at making qualitative education to be available, affordable, accessible and Compulsory, then the fraudulent handing over of school to FBO’s would deny the Nigerian masses who are presently the inhabitant of the “world Capital of Poverty” access to qualitative education. Schools that were dubiously handed over to their acclaimed owner in Lagos for instance were converted to private institution and huge school fees affordable by only the money bags were imposed, even majority of the members of such organizations could not afford to pay such a fee and had to send their children elsewhere. It is a known fact that some of the most expensive schools in Nigeria today belongs to the FBO’S. . For God’s sake, why will the FBO’S seek dubious means to embark on business ventures as it is confirmed that the schools returned to the FBO’s in the name of “Original Owner” were converted to money making ventures.
MORE CHILDREN WILL GO BACK TO THE STREETS.
When schools are returned to the so called “Original owners” or FBO’S, will the government hands off primary and post primary education? if no, will they quickly build new schools to cater for the children of the masses who will definitely not be able to afford the consequences of that action? if the answer is no, then the implication is more children will be thrown out of the school by this move. This will be antithetical to the vision of providing qualitative education to the majority of the Ondo State children. Nigeria is currently battling with serious security issues and one of the factors traceable to this situation is ignorance and illiteracy orchestrated by over 40Million out of school children. It should interest those advocating for the return of schools to private organisations in Ondo state that our dear sunshine state account for over 44000 of such out of school children. Handing of schools. “alleged owners” will do nothing but increase this number which will portends a very serious security challenges to our peaceful state.
A DARK PERIOD IN THE HISTORY OF EDUCATION
Without fear of contradiction, the call for the return schools to FBO’S or their “Original Owners” is nothing but a call to return schools to the Christian Missionaries or Church. This was established at the summit based on the arrays of supporters of the agenda which are majorly Christian Leaders. We say without the fear of contradiction that this call is dubious, callous and fraudulent. It is a calculated attempt to further deny the Muslim child free access to qualitative education in an atmosphere of religious freedom. All our fathers who are now elder statesmen who had the opportunity to attend the formal schools especially in the south in the early fifties and Sixties would bear us witness that it is a call to re-awaking the systematic Christianization of the Muslim children.
Anybody who knows the history of education in Nigeria and the adventure of the Muslim child in quest to formal education which then in the stody of the Christian Evangelists would agree with us that this period can best be described as a dark period in the history of education and development in our dear Nation. During this sad and unfortunate period, Muslim child either chooses his religion or western education if he wants to access formal education, consequently brilliant and talented young Muslims, who could have contributed positively to the development of Nigeria, were denied access to qualitative education because of religious bigotry. Those who agreed to access it were forcefully Christianized.
Even forty years after the schools were acquired by the government, formal educational institutions as it is presently in most part of the country and Ondo state in particular are nothing but Christian Evangelical Centers. The schools especially the primary and post primary institutions are consistently been used by the church in connivance with the government officials to forcefully Christianize Muslim children. Muslim children are either barred by state legislation or school administrators from exercising their religious rights. Even in the federal unity schools where two uniforms have been adopted with one as hijab compliant, the educational administrators in major part of the country have refused to implement it and allow our children access qualitative education in an environ free of religious bigotry. The case is devastating and demoralizing to the level that not only are the Muslim children denied the practice and profession of Islam in schools funded with their fathers money, successive government in Ondo state have deliberately refuse to declare vacancy in Arabic and Islamic studies so that the young Muslims will be denied the teaching and learning of Islam and its language as a path towards the elimination of the future Muslims and their religion.
Our argument is that if this is the situation of the educational institution when it is said to be controlled by the government, we immerging what will happen if it is eventually handed over to the so called acclaimed owners or FBO’s
OTHER CRITICAL REASONS AGAINST THE HANDING OVER OF SCHOOLS TO FBO’S
The over 2000 critical stake holder who painstakingly participated in the 2 day summit do not share the thought of returning schools to FOB’S. it is true that educational reform policy which will guarantee free access of the citizenry to quality education and assures constructive development is expedient at this point in time, but We maintained that this can not be achieved through the so called Faith Based Organizations which today have proven to be materialistic more than the capitalist! Our stand and strongest conviction is that, the decision to take over the schools from the Faith Based Organizations was one of the best thing that ever happened to educational administration in this country. Even before the acquisition of the schools from the Faith Based Organizations, The community under the trust of the government not only provided the landed property for the sitting of the schools but more than 60% of the running cost were borne by the government of the various regions in the country.
It will be under-productive to hand over public schools to the FBO’S. Most of the public schools are characterised with over crowding. For heaven sake how will the state reduce this incidence of overcrowding in the class by handing over some schools to the Faith Based Organizations? The infrastructure and personnel available in Ondo State public primary and secondary schools as at now is grossly inadequate. Instead of thinking along the line of improving on the existing facilities, some people for reasons better known to them are clamoring for the handing over of these schools that are inadequate for the children of the masses to private bodies in the name of FBO’S. The idea of some parents wanting their wards to be raised under religious and spiritual atmosphere and as such some of the schools should be returned to the FBO’S is not only laughable but does not hold water, this is because as at now there are more than enough private educational institution from primary to tertiary owned by FBO’S which can adequately take care of that quest. Perchance if the institutions are inadequate then those parents can convince their FBO’s to build more schools rather than seeking fraudulent means to take over public properties.
MORAL DECAY IN FBO’S
Aside from the above, the FBO’S have not lived up to the expectations of showing dexterity in balancing moral aptitude with educational advancement in our modern time. Most of the Faith Based Institutions are today infested with moral decadence, pedophilia, incest, drug abuse and addiction, cultism, lesbianism, sodomy and all shades of immorality are the hall mark of most Faith Based Organisations. Cases of rape, adultery, pornography, drug trafficking and addiction are easily raised these days against religious leaders and their organisations. Immorality have infested the FBO’S and their institutions are not immune from these evils. Some years back, cases of cultism were raised against an institution established by one the largest fastest growing FBO in the country and funny enough some of the cult member were sons and daughters of Senior Leaders in the organization, even one of the kingpin eventually killed his own biological father, what an irony. Some days ago, a spiritual leader was arrested with drugs by the officials of the NDLEA. These are some of the people calling on government to release schools to them for spiritual tutoring of the next generation.
Leaders of FBO’S have in recent time show high level of corruption to the extent that a one time President of one of the largest religious organisation in the country was arraigned for Corruption charges by EFCC. Little wonder why some secularist were of the opinion that religious institutions have failed the congregation and the country at large because of the fact that some of the super rich personalities in the country today are religious leaders with private jets, business conglomerate and huge wealth they can’t account for.
If 304 and 1141 public Secondary and Primary schools respectively in Ondo state are characterized with overcrowding as orchestrated by large number of students on enrollment, I think it requires strong conviction to appreciate the fact that it will be catastrophic to hand over even a single school to the FBO’S. It requires a progressive idea to know that the most reasonable policy to save the educational sector from total collapse is to build more schools, improve on the existing infrastructure and personnel in order to reduce overcrowding and make education conducive and attractive with positive developmental touches.
it is an established fact and empirically proven that students of public institutions have continued to excel and perform better than the students of private institutions. Even most private higher institution graduates and school leavers cannot defend their academic grades. This is because private institutions are nothing but business organizations and good academic result is a catalyst for the business development as such everything must be done in other to have a good fruit, Despite the poor funding of the public institutions, best students are mostly from public schools and they are admitted into the federal and state higher institution while students from Faith Based Institutions and other private schools mostly further their education in private institutions. The faith of our educational sector will be better imagined than experienced if it is finally handed over to the FBO’s.
Ondo state government for the sake of posterity, the unborn generation, the development of the state and even for the sake of the traumatized and impoverished masses should not Return Schools to the FBO’S under any banner or guise. This is because of its daring consequences as more children will be thrown out of schools because their parents would definitely not be able to afford the fees that will imposed by such organizations. As at now more than 80% of the students on enrollment are on the register of the public schools, their parents are at the mercy of the government to provide qualitative and affordable education for their children, what will be the plight of such parents and their children considering the fact that more than 70% of Nigerians are living below the poverty line.
Returning of schools to FBO’S will be the fraud of the century because this is simply handing over public properties to private business oriented individuals in the name of FBO’S.
It is a call to the return of the nation to the dark period in the history of educational development when educational institutions were used as tools in the hands of the religious bigot’s for forceful conversion and intimidation of the masses. It will work against the federal government policy on education as well educational policies of prominent international bodies with stakes in educational development of the nations at large and Ondo State in particular.
Rather the government should build more schools, improve on the existing educational infrastructures, increase or improve on the educational personnel especially teaching staff as well as provide adequate teaching and instructional materials. This can be achieved most importantly considering the dwindling government resources by dedicating the governor’s security vote’s to educational development. We can emerging if about N500M from the security vote is invested in education on monthly bases!
The government should establish Ondo State Education Trust Fund and set up a committee of eminent personalities to manage the funds that will be so accrued.
Ondo state should also increase the budgetary allocation for education
With these measures there will be more than enough funds to manage, improve and take the educational sector in Onto state to an enviable height. This is what we called a “herculean agenda” and if our amiable governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, could embark on its implementation and ignored the ill advise of Returning Schools to FBO’s, posterity will not only smile at you but also write your name in gold.
We want to say that if the Governor will go ahead to return schools to the so called “Original Owner” after acquisition, full compensation and huge investment using our hard earned resources (Tax) then we will have no option but to seek redress using every legal and Constitutional means available to us as a cardinal member of Ondo State Community with vested interested in the educational development of our dear sunshine state.
We are equally calling on all well meaning Ondo state indigenes, as well as all bodies, Union and Organisations passionate about the posterity of our children and their education to join us in the campaign against this dangerous tide.
May Allah bless Ondo state, it’s populace and the government.
His Emminence, Sheikh Ahmad Aladsawe (Chairman League of Imams and Alfas For Ondo State Muslim Community)
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