The Nigerian Islamic human rights organisation, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has appealed to the Lagos State government (LASG) to revisit the education sector with a view to correcting the glaring lop-sidedness in the appointment of tutor-generals and school principals. MURIC also raised the issue of many qualified Muslim teachers on grade level 17 who are still marking time when they should have been appointed principals.
“The Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, made the appeal in a statement issued on Tuesday, 18th August, 2020.
The statement reads:
“Lagos State has been divided into six education districts since the days of Chief Bola Tinubu. Each education district has a tutor general/permanent secretary saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the activities of the schools and their personnel. Tinubu, a Muslim, ensured fairness by sharing the six posts 50:50 between Muslims and Christians.
“Akinwunmi Ambode made it 4:2 in favour of Christians. The tricky game employed was to appoint some Muslims who have long converted to Christianity but who retained their Muslim names. It would then appear as if Muslims were appointed yet they were cleverly shortchanged.
“Under Governor Babajide Sanwoolu today there is no single Muslim tutor-general. There is also an uneven distribution of heads of department in the six districts. There are five departments in each district with a head of department (HOD) directing its affairs. So there are thirty (30) HODs in all. These HODs are part of the management team. Unfortunately there are only five (5) Muslim HODs out of the thirty (30).
“A research conducted in 2019 to know the distribution of school principals between Christians and Muslims resulted in the table below:
S/N DISTRICT NO. OF PRINCIPALS NO. OF CHRISTIAN
NO. OF MUSLIM
1 I 99 91 8
2 II 105 92 13
3 III 130 95 35
4 IV 94 76 18
5 V 136 117 19
6 VI 104 94 10
TOTAL 668 565 103
A quick analysis of the above table shows that there are six hundred and sixty eight (668) principals in Lagos State public schools. Of this number, five hundred and sixty-five (565) are Christians while only one hundred and three (103) are Muslims. This implies that Christian principals are 84.6% while Muslim principals are 15. 4%. Like in the case of tutor-generals, some principals who have long converted to Christianity but who retained their Muslim names were made principals while the real Muslims are left to rot in the system.
“What is the implication of this imbalance? Firstly, tutor-generals influence the appointment of school principals but anybody can guess what will happen in a situation where all the tutor-generals are Christians. Again, the use of hijab in public schools is largely determined by the disposition of school principals. Since the ratio is 84:15, it becomes clear why majority of the school principals disallow the use of hijab in their schools despite a subsisting court judgement in favour of its use.
“MURIC calls for the appointment of more Muslims as school principals. We lay emphasis on the appointment of real Muslims and not Muslims who have converted but retained their Muslim names. This should not be difficult if the authorities consult leaders of the Muslim Teachers Association (MUTAN). We believe that our call is timely and it is more so particularly when the state government has recently invited applications into the position of TG/PS and it is poised to recruit more teachers.
“The question of nonavalability of qualified Muslims does not arise because Lagos is replete with hundreds of well qualified and competent Muslims who are yearning for the opportunity to exhibit their potentials. In addition, many Muslim teachers who are on grade level 17 appear to have been placed on redundancy as they are not appointed as principals or vice principals. Their list can easily be obtained from the leadership of MUTAN or that of the Lagos State Muslim Community.
“There is also lop-sidedness in favour of Christians in the manner school assemblies are conducted. Most schools give Christians four days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) while Muslims have Friday alone. Some allow Muslims to use Thursday and Friday. For fairness, we suggest that Christians should be given two days (Monday and Tuesday), Muslims should also have two days (Thursday and Friday) while Wednesday should be left for Yoruba assembly.
“Our appeal to the Lagos State government is to make the education sector a model of excellence in keeping with the status of Lagos as the centre of excellence. Lagos has always been in the forefront of liberal policies, improved workers’ welfare, modernisation and other forms of human progress.
“This is not praise-singing. The records are there for all to applaud Lagos. Apart from Enugu in 1980, Lagos was one of the first states to establish a state university (1984), the first to increase maternity leave to six months, the first to build an atlantic city (Eko Atlantic), the first to introduce local council development areas (LCDA) and many more pacesetting initiatives. Lagos leads, others follow.
“MURIC is known to have lodged certain complaints against some states in Nigeria concerning their treatment of Muslims. It will therefore be another ‘first’ and another feather in Lagos’ cap if the state’s education authorities address the issues raised above before others do so.
“We recall that the Lagos Muslim Community under the able leadership of Professor T.G.O. Gbadamosi and the Chief Imam of Lagos, His Eminence, Engr Sulaimon Oluwatoyin Abou Noula, raised some of these issues in the presence of the incumbent governor during the 2019 electoral campaigns. We honestly believe that it is high time they were addressed.”