The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit has maintained that unconditional approval for female students to wear hijab in schools will be one of the criteria for voting for any gubernatorial candidates in Lagos state.
The Amir of the MSSN in Lagos State, Dr. Saheed Ashafa, said this at a world press conference on the state of the nation and the organisation’s ongoing 106th Islamic Vacation Course (IVC) holding at the Human Capital Development Center (HCDC), Noforija, Epe.
Noting that assault on school children over the use of hijab is a violation of their fundamental rights and freedom, he said that government and school authorities should embrace the use of hijab in schools.
He warned principals who still punish female students for using hijab despite the circular from government to desist from doing that.
He said that their action was capable of maligning the peaceful coexistence of people of different faiths in Lagos State.
He, however, stated that the MSSN has made tremendous progress on the matter so far and would not relent.
When asked about what the MSSN Lagos is at present doing to ensure implementation of the government’s circular, Ashafa said: “First, we are in court. We are a group of people, who are civilised. We know the implication when a matter is still in court and the implication of working contrary to that.
“However, every assault that happens in Lagos is taken up by the society. Probably people think we will take to the street and create chaos in the society. We are not going to go that way. We will follow the constitutional procedures to make our case.
“Recently, a Vice Principal has been removed from office due to assault on hijab. When the issue of Army Cantonment Girls in Ojo happened, we were there, engaged the TGPS of that district and the VP was dismissed immediately alongside some teachers.
“We believe that this is a step in the right direction, even though we are not after anybody being removed from office, but what we are saying is that it is our right, and school children should be able to enjoy the use of use hijab.
“Whenever our is being trampled upon, we will definitely take issues up with the perpetrators, and whenever we do that people may be expecting that we will be violent. But, we believe in peaceful process in getting to the root of any of our matters.”
Speaking on the 2019 election, Ashafa explained that delegates at the ongoing camp have been sensitised to maintain and promote peace.
He emphasised that educational development and willingness to allow the use of hijab by female students in schools would form a major basis for supporting any candidate.
He said, “Let me get something clear. MSSNLagos is not a political organisation but millions of our members are qualified voters. We have sensitised them enough to get their permanent Voters Cards and the need to be peaceful during the election.
“We have been very careful in taking a position on the governorship election in Lagos State, but something is clear: we will not support any candidate that will pose a challenge to the use of hijab by our members in schools or deny any of our rights..
“We urge the candidates to engage in issue-based campaign and avoid maligning others. We are interested in the ideas that these candidates have to solve the country’s challenges and defamation of character.”
On the ongoing strike embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Ashafa asked the government to increase its funding of the education sector.
He faulted the government for the incessant strike embarked upon by the ASUU, saying that it would be wrong to read political meaning into the strike action.
“We understand that this is a political period and a lot of meaning could be read into the action of ASUU. We do not consider that as important. What is paramount to us is that the students are the one suffering. The demands of ASUU are not new and if implemented would lead to the development of our educational sector,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ashafa said this year’s IVC theme, ‘In the Shade of Sunnah’ was inspired by the need for Muslims, youths particularly, to have the understanding of operating in different facets of life in a balanced manner, which is devoid of extremism and laxity.
He said some of the delegates were being taught coding during the camping period.
“We created a digital hub to train students on coding here on campsite. This is inline with the current trends in the society. We want Muslim youths to be ICT complaints,” he added.
Apart from the digital hub, Ashafa stated that the Arabic village earlier established during the camping programme would still continue to function.
He said: “We understand that things are changing and we have a role to reposition Muslim youths to be relevant regardless of the change. Our camp is known for spiritual and educational development and those will not suffer.
“All we have done is to go digital. This started from registration to establishing a digital hub for some of our delegates to learn coding on the camp site.
“The 106th IVC Digital Hub has become a place for learning and engaging in projects on coding. It is taken as one of the extra curricula activities on camp.
“Our first target are those who have learnt it in their schools. We identified them and gave them a little qualification test to ascertain their little knowledge.
“Thereafter, we paired them and gave them some projects to work on. We facilitated their project and guide them to achieving their goal.”