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HomeEducationNorth varsities bar churches on campuses, Kukah alleges

North varsities bar churches on campuses, Kukah alleges

North varsities bar churches on campuses, Kukah alleges

 

THE Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Fr. Matthew Kukah, has expressed worry about what he described as declining diversity and meritocracy in Nigerian universities.

He said he found that public universities in the North are not open to the idea of having churches built on their campuses.

Kukah said this on Thursday on a television programme.

The cleric expressed dismay over the closure of doors to churches in universities in Northern Nigeria.

The cleric said, “A mosque was constructed in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I delivered a convocation lecture in Calabar three weeks ago. After my lecture, the Chief Imam of the university came to congratulate me.

“But as I speak to you, Usmanu Dan Fodio University, which is over 40 years old, Bayero University, and other universities in northern Nigeria have decided to close their doors to the possibility of churches being built in the universities across this country.

“All this fanaticism we are seeing is expressed in public life. If students in the university or at the point of their growing up are not allowed to integrate and interrelate, and if churches or mosques cannot be built across this country, then there is a problem.”

He highlighted the pattern of diminishing diversity and meritocracy in Nigerian universities, where ethnic and religious considerations were gaining prominence.

The Bishop stated, “There was a time when Ahmadu Bello University had lecturers from different parts of the world. Now, look at what has happened to our universities across Nigeria. Our universities have become just mere incubators of ethnic jingoism.

“So, I do not know which funded federal university that you will name that has a vice chancellor that is not a local boy.

“So the universities themselves have become playgrounds for the ambitions of the local elite. “The question is: Why should a place of worship be a problem for a university, whether it is for the Muslim students in Calabar or the Christian students in Sokoto?

“I approached the Minister of Education about this. I have a letter from the Nigerian Universities Commission. Universities in northern Nigeria have refused to implement this recommendation.”

Efforts to get the reaction of the management of the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto were not successful as the Public Relations Officer of the school, Ismaila Yauri, could not be reached on his mobile line as of the time of filing this report.

Also, a text message sent to the Dean of Student Affairs of the school, Dr Aliyu Umaru, after several calls to his number were not answered, had not been responded to as of the time of filing this report

But a top management staff of the school, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity because he did not have authorisation to speak on the issue, disagreed with the statement credited to the Bishop.

The official said, “I am aware that the Christian communities in the school have a place of worship; there are some that worship on Saturdays and some on Sundays.

“Even the last time when CAN executives visited the school, they went round to see the places of worship themselves.”

He added that the university authority would release a statement on the position of the university concerning the issue on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities of the Federal University Gusau in Zamfara State, Dr Abdul Adamu, said the Christian students studying in the university had never asked for land or building to practise their religion within the institution.

Speaking with newsmen on the phone, Adamu said, “Since the time the university was created in 2013, the Christian students have never requested for a land to build a church.

“Similarly, they never requested an accommodation to practice their religion.

“If they want to build a worship centre or a church, I think they can forward their application to the Vice Chancellor.”

Efforts to get the reaction of the Director of Public Affairs at Bayero University, Kano, Lamara Garba, were unsuccessful as his mobile line did not connect.

But an official of the university, who did not want his name in the print because he did not have the authority to speak for the university, told newsmen Christians in the university had been conducting their services and other religious activities unfettered since the university was established.

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