By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Arising from an emergency meeting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Thursday, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, and the General Overseer, Living Faith, Bishop David Oyedepo have warned the Federal and State Governments against attempt to force Christian students in secondary schools to offer Islamic Studies.
Speaking while addressing newsmen at the PFN Headquarters in Isolo, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Oyedepo said government had no right to force subjects on anybody, saying that by stopping Christian Religion Studies, CRS, at the Senior Secondary School level, it automatically meant that it would not be embraced at the tertiary institutions.
“You cannot force our students to study Islamic Studies or Arabic Studies,” he said, citing a case in Kwara State where a Christian student was beaten and forced to take Arabic Studies against his will.
Speaking, PFN President, Dr. Felix Omobude said the PFN was concerned at the contention and controversy that had attended the revised Basic Education Curriculum, especially the unnecessary collapse of Christian Religious Studies as part of an omnibus subject known as Religion and National Values.
“We note the explanation by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) on some of the issues raised. However, the PFN maintains that whatever the case, there is really no need nor is there any justification for the needless confusion and uncertainty the NERDC has created which has opened up the implementation of the curriculum to the whims and caprices people with vested interests who want to impose their religious preferences on students.
“The PFN calls for an immediate reversal of the change of curriculum so that Christian Religious Studies can stand on its own as a separate subject just as it has always been. Collapsing CRK as only a part of Religion and National Values forecloses the opportunity of the subject being studied at the tertiary level by students who might so desire and this is unacceptable to us.
“On the question of the compulsory study of Foreign languages, as the curriculum has laid out, the PFN urges that the window be opened up to more languages beyond French and Arabic to accommodate other languages such as Spanish, etc. so that our children can enjoy greater flexibility in foreign language study and not be compelled to study a language they have no interest in, as its being reported in some states. We are aware of orchestrated plans to subtly use this policy as a means of forceful religious indoctrination and we maintain our stand against it,” Omobude said.
On killings by Fulani herdsmen, Omobule stated that the PFN was concerned that a lot of the instances of killings across many parts of the country was linked to Fulani herdsmen who seemed to find it so easy to kill, destroy farms and houses, yet were able to evade apprehension by security forces.
“We call for adequate and appropriate response of government to put an end to the activities of these killer Herdsmen across the country. We urge the Federal Government to take the issue of security more seriously especially the spate of kidnappings all over the country.
“The PFN restates its position that nomadic cattle-rearing has become outdated. It urges the government of states, where cattle rearing is a part and parcel of their culture, to build ranches and develop reserves where cattle owners can husband their animals without travelling long distances where they stray into farms, destroy crops and constitute nuisance and threat to other communities,” he said.
On Southern Kaduna crisis, the PFN president said the body was worried at developments in the area, especially the lack of prompt response to guarantee the security of lives and property.
“The PFN calls for more attention to be paid to the plight of the victims of the Southern Kaduna crisis. A delegation from the PFN recently paid a visitation to Southern Kaduna and made a presentation of N15 million worth of relief materials to the different groups, irrespective of ethnicity or religion. From this visit, we can see that there is much more that urgently needs to be done for the people of Southern Kaduna and urgently too. We call on the Federal government and Kaduna State government to immediately improve on their rehabilitation efforts,” he added.
On restructuring, Omobude said PFN noted with concern the restiveness in different parts of the country and the increasing calls for a break-up of the country on the part of those purporting to speak for ethnic groups.
“We restate our belief in the unity of Nigeria and a commitment to one Nigeria where people of different faiths and tongues can continue to live together as one. However, we call on the government to do all it can to assuage the fears and concerns of everyone and ensure the practice of Federalism in its true form. We urge the government to pay attention to the calls for restructuring and find a way to push for further devolution of powers, while adopting an all-inclusive approach to governance and development in the country,” he added.