By Akeeb Â Alapare, Osogbo
Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has stated that neither his government nor himself has ever ordered the use of female head scarf called Hijab for Muslim students in public schools in the state.
Speaking at a round table in Osogbo on Monday, Areâ€Žgbesola challenged those who accused him of ordering the use of Hijab by Muslimsâ€Ž to bring concrete proof to substantiate their mischievous claims.
He further challenged those accusing him of plunging the state into religious crisis to either present a video or voice recording, written speech evidencingâ€Ž where he commanded or ordered female Muslim students to wear Hijab on their uniform.
â€ŽThis is coming just as he stated that all programmes introduced into the state’s education rebranding are the resolutions that came out of the summit organised by his administration shortly after coming into office.
Aregbesola noted that the resolution of the summit, headed by Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, never considered nor recommended any religion.
Commenting on the state of education in the South Western part of the country, the governor noted that the downward trend should be worrisome due to the role of education in development and bringing enlightenment to the human mind, â€Žplatform for leadership recruitment and the means for character building and good citizenship.
The Governor stated that when he came to government, the first task of his administration was to convene an education summit which was chaired by Prof Wole Soyinka, adding that allÂ intervention of government in education since inception came from the recommendations of the summit and nothing about religion.
According to him, “There is nothing religious in any of our policies. The fact on ground contradicts our opposition’s claim. The choice of my deputy governor tells it all, I knew she is a pentecostalist of the highest order before I picked her. Everything we have done in the line of education is in line with the resolution of our education summit.
“Against all speculations, I have not ordered the use of Hijab, I challenge anybody with evidence to come out and show that I have made a proclamation on Hijab.
â€œIf I have permitted Hijab will the Muslims have gone to court to challenge it, is that not contradictory? Is it a crime that I am a Muslim, is it because I struggle to be a good Muslim that everything I do is being misunderstood? I think I don’t deserve all these lies against me”.
He held that his administration’s efforts and intervention in education has been massive and that there has been qualitative and quantitative improvement in the performance of pupils and general education of youths.
He said, “Those who say we are declining are not being honest. The following data will put a lie to the unfounded allegation of our detractors that the performance of pupils has gone down under our watch. In 2007, the state government put forward 36,171 candidates for WAEC examination out of which 2,483 representing 6.86 per cent had credit pass in five subjects, including English and Mathematics.
“In 2008, it was 37,715 candidates with 3,813 pass, representing 10.11 per cent. In 2009 it was 39,676 candidates, with 5,545 pass, representing 13.98 per cent. In 2010 it was 43,216 candidates, with 6,777 pass, representing 15.68 per cent. These is four years gave us an average of 15.68 per cent.
“However, our administration started sponsoring candidates for WAEC in 2011. That year, we fielded 53,293 candidates, had 11672 pass, representing 21.98 per cent. In 2012, we fielded 51,463 out of which 11,431 passed, representing 22.21 per cent. In 2013, we also fielded 47,013 candidates recorded 9,301 pass, representing 19.78 per cent.
“In 2014, we sponsored 47,672 candidates, 9316 of them passed, representing 19.54 per cent. The average performance for our first four years was 20.88 per cent. Compared with the average performance (13.26 per cent) of the three years that preceded us, the percentage improvement in performance during our tenure is a huge 57.46 per cent”.