Afikpo: Big step forward at Islamic school
Plans are in the offing to turn the famous Islamic centre, Afikpo into an Islamic University.
Soon, the centre will become an Islamic university, an idea which Sheikh Nwagui holds dearly, given the sudden glow in his eyes as he begins to speak about it.
There are hopes to turn the Islamic Centre, Afikpo into an Islamic University some day, so says Sheikh Daud Nwagui, the Headmaster of the primary section of the school which is fenced all round and sits on a little elevation. He explains “We hope to turn the school into a university, that is a university of Islamic studies. There is no school like this in the whole of the South-east.”
But the story of the Islamic Centre, Afikpo is an inspiring one. The highest number of Igbo Muslims in the South East can be found in hilly Afikpo. Nsukka, another major town in Enugu state, comes next after Afikpo in terms of the preponderance of Igbo Muslims. Islam was brought to Afikpo in 1958 by Sheikh Ibrahim Okpani Nwagui, the father of the headmaster. He tells Daily Trust that his father embraced Islam in Senegal. When he returned to Nigeria in 1958, he then introduced Islam to his people.
He says “From that time a lot of people in the vicinity were turning to Islam. He was a very sincere person, and he was like this till his very last days. He was the founder of the Islamic Centre, Afikpo.”
According to the headmaster “This centre was set up in 1965 to propagate Islam generally. This is the best Islamic secondary school in the nation, and students come from all over the country, including Abuja.
He tells Daily Trust that the school has a primary and a secondary section. There are 450 pupils in the primary section, while the secondary section has some 500 pupils. There is a special focus on Arabic as a language, on Islamic studies, physics, English Language, Biology, Chemistry, English Literature, Mathematics and Igbo. This will assist in producing a crop of rounded pupils, the headmaster implies. He says that graduates of the school have risen to prominent positions in the society.
Many have done well in the areas of medicine, some are in the armed forces, also in engineering, and many have risen to become Chief Imams in many states of the federation.
He mentions that some graduates are outside the country and doing very well in places such as Pakistan and India. At the Islamic Centre Afikpo, the students write the NECO and SSCE, examinations, just like other students in Nigerian secondary schools.
The school also has 3 boarding houses. On challenges which the school has faced over the years, Sheikh Nwagui accepts that these exist, and some form of challenge has come from those he describes as ‘religious fanatics in the neighbourhood.’ Then he adds with some reassurance “But from the government of the state we are covered. the government gives us a lot of support.”
A computer laboratory is under construction at the school, the headmaster states, and adds that this project will be completed very soon. Soon, the centre will become an Islamic university, an idea which Sheikh Nwagui holds dearly, given the sudden glow in his eyes as he begins to speak about it.
The school has a colourful list of old boys. INSET, one of the gates leading to the Islamic centre.
Sheikh Daud Nwagui says that there are plans to turn the centre into an Islamic university.