An alleged plot by the Ministry of Education to insert a new policy clause that intends to shortchange students studying Christian Religious Studies nationwide is creating concern. This is serious and uncalled for against many troubles currently faced in the country. There are the strong sectional agitations on restructuring which currently threatens the feeble unity and security of Nigeria. With this poignant occurrence, there is no doubt that the country is sitting on another keg of religious gun powder if moderation of the new religious studies curriculum set to be implemented soon in Nigerian schools by the Ministry of Education is not urgently reversed or addressed. Unfortunately, the Education Ministry is reportedly behind this new monstrous policy. According to reports, the ministry and a key parastatal, the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council is hell-bent on delisting religious studies as a subject in a new curriculum of education that will soon be introduced in the school system. Elaborating on the subject matter, the report states that both Islamic and Christian Religious Studies will no longer be studied as full subjects in schools, except as themes in Civic Education. But funny enough, in another section of the same document, the Education Ministry reportedly approved Islamic studies without listing Christian Religious Knowledge as a corresponding subject. The development, no doubt, has elicited serious and widespread concern and criticisms in the country. Expectedly, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in its characteristic manner has reacted and warned that the federal government’s action through the Ministry of Education clearly undermines the sound moral values both subjects had imparted in the past on the people. The association added that studying both religions at the primary, secondary and even tertiary levels made the country to coexist religiously and ethnically without tension. Speaking through its president, Dr Samson Ayokunle, CAN alleged that there was discrimination against Christian students in the new curriculum and described the omission of CRK and insertion of only IRS in a new section of the policy document as not only divisive but obnoxious, ungodly and a time bomb. It therefore called for a total stop on its implementation while a full stakeholders meeting is convened by the federal government. Indeed, this is a sad commentary and ill timed policy in its entire ramification, particularly while the country is grappling with numerous challenges, especially at the economic and political fronts. With the latest strong sectional agitations which threaten Nigeria’s unity, it appears absurd that a ministry and agency under it will elect to be so insensitive, incongruous and
irresponsible to fly such dangerous kite that borders on religion in a secular state. Coming against Nigeria’s present complex state, restraint in the policies that government and its agencies make should be the operating index. In truth, nerves are burning over farmers, cattle herders unending conflagration, militancy, Boko Haram, ethnic agitations, poor economy and sorry living condition of an average Nigerian, all sum up to a failed Nigeria state that presently needs not be enmeshed again in another needless religious war. Shortchanging Christian religion students by removing Christian Religious Studies from their schools’ curriculum is ungodly and undermines the Christian religion and its large ardent followers. Imagine if the reverse was the case, the Muslim faithful in the country would have gone on rampage as it smacks of wrong- doing and an affront on their religion. So in truth, what is good for the goose correspondingly should be good for the gander. We request, like the Christian body has declared, that the comprehensive document on the policy be published with both Christian and Islamic studies retained. This is not the time to toil with such sensitive matter as religion at whatever level. As a matter of emphasis, we see the benefits of studying both religions in our schools more of a national service and development than the disadvantages if the teachers observe moderation and de-emphasise religious radicalism in their teachings; this is often the problem and not the letters of the Holy Bible and the Quran. Whereas it is needless we begin what may overwhelm the country, we stand by the declaration of CAN to, among other considerations, call for the suspension of the implementation of the curriculum and for organisation of a nationwide workshop for all stakeholders; publish full details of the curriculum on government website for all and sundry to peruse for proper understanding, retain the old order, return both religious studies as well as history and civic education as full subjects of their own as demanded by majority students and parents; over haul the education ministry and caution the minister not to be one-sided in religious considerations, even if he is a Muslim, and finally ensure that the final policy document is endorsed by all the stakeholders, including Christians and Muslims. In whole, we support this position in the same vein we expect every rational Nigerian to do. Nigeria must not be seen to be derailing into an Islamic state as being suspected. If we must live as one indivisible country, then we must respect each other’s religion, no matter the religion of President Muhammadu Buhari or Mallam Adamu Adamu, the Minister of Education, as the case may be. We need moderation, religious tolerance and equity for both religions and their followers, QED.