It is an accepted and recognized fact that the major problem with Nigeria is leadership. In a country with vast resources in a forest of talents, the problem of leadership is a recurring hindrance to progress and productivity. Let us, however, for one second put aside progress and productivity and discuss how to sustain peace in our dear nation. The inability of Nigerian leaders to maintain a peaceful and manageable status quo has become an issue, and is the issue at hand presently.
Recently, the Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, legalized the wearing of hijab to public schools by Muslim faithful. The pronouncement did not go down well with the Christian community, who went court to register their protest. However, in a judgment delivered by Jide Falola, the governor’s pronouncement was upheld.
In response, the Christian community felt that since it is normal for religious wears to be used in schools, it will not be an aberration for the Christians to wear church garments as well. And so, some students of the Baptist Secondary School in Osun State, in compliance to the instruction of the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), wore different forms of worship garments to school, and inside classrooms, thereby drawing the anger of the state government which threatened to expel all those involved.
CAN, on its part, has dared the Osun State government over the proposed expulsion, there laying the foundation of a would-be religious fracas.
The fact that Judge Jide Falola would vet such a delicate verdict, being aware of how delicate the issue of religion is in Nigeria, without making provision for other religions is appalling. It should be a part of our culture that whenever a policy is created for any religious or ethnic group that a corresponding policy should be equally created for the various other religious or ethnic groups. Our leaders should know better than to heat up the polity in Nigeria by ignoring major religious and ethnic groups.
The second display of poor leadership came from CAN. As long as the verdict did not coerce Christian female students to wear hijabs, the leadership of CAN really had little ground to initiate such a dramatic protest. The leadership of CAN should have foreseen the fact that the verdict would have caused controversy and stirred up discontent amongst Christians living in Osun State. The response, thus, as responsible Christian leaders should have been not to take any action to spur or even activate the restlessness of the discontent masses. Instigating innocent children to be part of the drama by asking them to wear long choir robes to school was immature and petty. They should not have given an official voice or face to a movement that could have been easily avoided.
The final and most overt show of faulty leadership is brought about by Governor Rauf Aregbesola himself. If none of the aforementioned leaders did not have the foresight or instinct to see what implications their actions would carry, then the person of Governor of the state at the very least should. He should have tried, at the very least, to appease both sides and work towards peace. Was this the case? Of course not! The Governor, instead of trying to put out the fire, ordered for fresh barrels of petrol by threatening to expel students who wore the long choir robes to school. What would he accomplish with this threat apart from stirring up violence that would involve children?
Why couldn’t any of these leaders attempt to nip the crisis in the bud, and stop this looming war that would most likely end in the loss of property, resources and lives? One can only pray that this looming war does not erupt as Nigerians can do without yet another headache; our cups are already full.
However, a more potent prayer would be that the Heavens smile on us and bless us with visionary leaders.