Afikpo: Big step for­ward at Is­lamic school

Plans are in the off­ing to turn the fa­mous Is­lamic cen­tre, Afikpo into an Is­lamic Univer­sity.

Daily Trust - - FEATURE - By Tadaferua Ujorha who was in Afikpo

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.

PHO­TOS TADAFERUA UJORHA

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.

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