UNIVERSITIES WHERE STRANGE THINGS HAPPEN
After the Federal Government in Nigeria opened the doors for private individuals and organizations to establish and run private higher institutions of learning,most parents, guardians, students and indeed most Nigerians, were of the opinion that the problems associated with the conventional public universities and other higher institutions of learning would be addressed by the private ones.
Not quite long that the laws to be met by anyone willing to establish such schools were laid down, had individuals and organizations started showing interest.
Most of those who founded private Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education and Monotechnics, in their mission statements, stated that all prospective students, irrespective of their religion, beleif, creed, colour, tribe or ethnicity would be welcomed.They made Nigerians, most of whom had been battling for years to gain admission to pursue a University education, to beleive that their Universities are out to assist in closing the gap between attainable potential student population and limited space in Nigeria’s educational system. Nigerians—both parents and their children were happy that, with the private bodies coming on board of Nigeria’s educational system, their hopes of high qualitative education would be met. Most people flocked to these private Universities, most of them owned by religious organizations.
But instead of serving as citadels of higher learning and helping to re-invigorate higher education in Nigeria, the religious Universities have become CITADELS OF STRANGE HAPPENINGS. Instead of engaging in teaching and researching, the management of these Universities are busy making rules and regulations that are unexpected in a university system.There is no longer any clear demarcation between religious duties and academic work.
At MADONNA UNIVERSITY in Okija, an institution founded by EDE EMMANUEL, a Catholic Priest, any student who fails to attend and participate in a physical excercise billed for Thursdays and Fridays respectively may be suspended and fined N10,000(naira) approximately 100 USD. Students are as well forbidden from leaving the Campus without permission.They cannot form a Union of their pwn either.
BOWEN is another University. It is owned by the BAPTIST CONVENTION and located in IWO,OSUN STATE. Students of this school are barred from using Camera phones. “This measure is taken to stop them from downloading pornography. ” says NIKE ADENIRAN a recently graduated student of the school as reported in the NEWSWATCH -Nigeria’s weekly magazine of SEPTEMBER 24,2007. According to Nike, female students are not allowed to wear trousers and it is compulsory for every student, irrespective of your beleif or disbelief, to attend the school’s devotional service which holds every Mondays,Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
At BABCOCK, a university owned by the Seventh Day Adventist, the Vegetarian lifestyle has been forced on all its students. No student dare eats meat or fish. According to KAYODE MAKINDE, the VICE CHANCELLOR of BABCOCK, those who find this strange should go the Bible book on Genesis and find out the diet given to man by God “in the begining.“He quoted Genesis Chapter 1 verse 29 as justification for restriction on menu as it concerns students. Apart from the meat and fish restriction, the institution also has barred students from wearing make-ups, wigs,trousers by females, jewelries, and cooking in the hostel.The male students cannot visit their female counterparts too.
CRESCENT UNIVERSITY in ABEOKUTA is a MUSLIM owned school where female students must cover their heads and wear a top or shirt that will cover their hips. Students, whether Christians,Muslims, Atheists or Freethinkers must attend the compulsory Friday Jummat service.
The use of GSM PHONES have been banned in DAVID OYEDEPO’S owned CONVENANT UNIVERSITY. Apart from this, students are only allowed to lay and listen to “gospel music” and must attend the LIVING FAITH CHURCH.
The institution’ s policy that has drawn the attention of not only the Federal Government but the international community is the compulsory HIV and PREGNANCY TEST it carries out on students during admission and shortly before graduation.Even though COVENANT UNIVERSITY is not the only University that conducts medical test on its students,it is the only one that is taking it to the extreme.
Nigerians, including NGO’s and Human Rights Activists have criticised COVENANT UNIVERSITY’S compulsory policy of HIV and Pregnancy testing for its graduating students. There is no doubt that this policy of the University ordinarily contravenes SECTION 34 OF THE CONSTITUITON of the FEDERAL REPUBLIC of NIGERIA and other INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS which entitles all dignity of human persons not to be subjected to torture or inhuman treatment.
One cannot go to any of these religious universities and tell people he or she does not beleive in God. You cannot go there and blow your trumpet out that you are an Atheist or Freethinker. Such a person will not only face the worst discrimination of his life, but would also be shown the way out of the school system because they beleive their students must be “people with high moral standing who must have their religion of worship and fear God.”
This is the state of the educational system in Africa’s most populous country.While these happen in the religious universities, the conventional public universities often refuse to reconize students who are non religious. Such students are seen as the “Agents of the Devil” sent into the school to disrupt academic activities and recruit followers to “HELL FIRE”
The issue of CONVENANT UNIVERSITY’S policy and practice of compulsory HIV and Pregnancy testing for its graduating students,and other religious universities inhuman treatment on their students and the refusal of the various NIGERIA’S Univeristy management to recognize and accord rights to non religious students on campuses of higher learning have no basis in law or common sense and discriminates against women and persons living with HIV/AIDS. It underscore the need for the NATIONAL UNIVERSITIES COMMISSION and the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT and other INTERNATIONAL BODIES help save our campuses of higher learning from religious dogmatism obscurantism.
ADEWALE AKINTAYO OLUGBENGA
HUMANISTS WITHOUT BORDERS-NIGERIA
(HWB is a student and youth led Humanist organization dedicated to the promotion of Humanism among students and youth in Nigeria)
UNIVERSITIES WHERE STRANGE THINGS HAPPEN