I was de­nied em­ploy­ment for be­ing Mus­lim – Mus­lim PhD holder in Chris­tian Stud­ies

Pro­fes­sor Rasheed Ji­moh Ijaodola is the Dean, Oba Ere­di­awa Col­lege of Law, Ig­bine­dion Uni­ver­sity Okada. He holds three doc­tor­ate de­grees in­clud­ing one in Chris­tian Stud­ies. In this interview, he speaks on why he chose Chris­tian Stud­ies as a course, how th

Weekly Trust - - Interview - Us­man A. Bello, Benin Ijaodola: Ijaodola: Pro­fes­sor Rasheed Ji­moh Ijaodola: Ijaodola: Ijaodola: Ijaodola: Ijaodola: Ijaodola: Ijaodola:

Daily Trust: Why did you go for a PhD in Chris­tian Stud­ies as a Mus­lim?

I at­tended a Catholic pri­mary school where we were taught about the Bi­ble - from gen­e­sis to rev­e­la­tion, and it was in­ter­est­ing. Be­cause of the in­ter­est, I did Chris­tian Re­li­gion Knowl­edge in sec­ondary school and Higher School Cer­tifi­cate (HSC) and I pass very well. Aside that, the late Prof. Bopamu of the Fac­ulty of Sci­ence Uni­ver­sity of Ilorin, who was amazed by my knowl­edge of the Bi­ble asked me to do a PhD in Chris­tian Stud­ies. When I went for the Post Grad­u­ate De­gree, I wrote the ex­am­i­na­tion and passed very well hence they ad­mit­ted me for the Mas­ters De­gree and then I pro­ceeded for PhD.

My the­sis was very in­ter­est­ing; I wrote on end time prophe­cies, which said own­er­ship of a sin­gle city (Jerusalem) will lead to end time. So, I was in­ter­ested in know­ing what was spe­cial in the city be­cause the Ha­dith of the Prophet also said that one of the end time signs is the prob­lem over a city. My in­ter­est led me to go­ing for a PhD in Chris­tian Stud­ies.

DT: What was the re­ac­tion of your fam­ily and friends on the idea of go­ing for PhD in Chris­tian Stud­ies be­ing a Mus­lim?

There was no ob­jec­tion; they took it in good faith be­cause they know that I love ed­u­ca­tion. I am even plan­ning to go for an­other PhD in His­tory. If you look at Yoruba his­tory and the Fu­lani in­cur­sion in the area dur­ing the 18/19 Cen­tury, which led to the de­cline and fall of Oyo Em­pire, you’d dis­cov­ered that there were no co­her­ent lit­er­a­ture in re­spect of the wars, par­tic­u­larly the Ilorin-Offa war in the 19th Cen­tury. My great grand­fa­ther was the one who led the war on the part of Offa, and if you read the his­tory books of the Yorubas, there are many in­ac­cu­ra­cies. Again, the Fu­lani in­cur­sion into Yoruba land needs to be prop­erly writ­ten in line with the re­al­ity on ground at that time.

DT: Be­ing a Mus­lim, will this Chris­tian Stud­ies not in­flu­ence your faith?

If you look at the en­cy­clo­pe­dia of knowl­edge, there are about nine re­li­gions on earth; Is­lam and Chris­tian­ity are the mi­nor­ity re­li­gions if you con­sider the pop­u­la­tion of the world. But the re­li­gions that are al­most the same, which we call Abra­hamic re­li­gions are Is­lam and Chris­tian­ity, their sources are from al­most the same place. It is only the view of the per­son­al­ity of Christ that dif­fers in the two re­li­gions. So, the two re­li­gions should be seen as a unify force that will make peo­ple live in har­mony and not to di­vide us. Is­lam be­lieves in all the prophets in­clud­ing Je­sus Christ but the only point of de­par­ture is the tra­di­tion of Paul. The Mus­lims be­lieve Je­sus Christ is a prophet of God but the di­vin­ity as pro­claimed by the Chris­tians is not ac­cept­able to Is­lam. In my view, there are lots of sim­i­lar­i­ties about the re­li­gions that ought to be stud­ied by way of

DT: Re­li­gious cri­sis is com­mon in our coun­try, how can this be ad­dressed?

We should not let some peo­ple de­ceive us. I am close to both Mus­lims and Chris­tians, the re­li­gious dishar­mony in Nige­ria is po­lit­i­cal, and peo­ple only use it to their ad­van­tage. I was in­vited for an interview for a vice chan­cel­lor po­si­tion in one of the univer­si­ties, and it was presided over by Prelate of the Methodist Church, but they couldn’t take me be­cause I am a Mus­lim. That is what hap­pens any­where the Chris­tians pre­side, and on the Mus­lims’ part, it is also the same any­where they are head. The prob­lem we have in Nige­ria is that we are not in­ter­ested in merit. This idea of this per­son is from my town or re­li­gion is tear­ing the coun­try apart. Re­li­gion is for good neigh­bourli­ness and to get a per­son closer to God. So to avoid re­li­gion cri­sis, we have to fear God and be­lieve in the unity of coun­try.

DT: What do you think is the prob­lem of our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem?

I wrote to the Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, Mal­lam Adamu Adamu, com­mend­ing him for be­ing fo­cused. Some peo­ple will as­sumed of­fice and dis­card what oth­ers have done - ei­ther good or bad, and in­tro­duce new things. The teach­ing of His­tory was can­celled in our in­sti­tu­tions but Adamu came and re­stored it. A na­tion with­out his­tory is doomed.

Dur­ing our days, we went through Higher School Cer­tifi­cate (HSC) sys­tem and we were bet­ter for it. HSC then was more dif­fi­cult than the uni­ver­sity but to­day, it is from sec­ondary school straight to the uni­ver­sity and lots of im­ma­ture stu­dents are in the uni­ver­sity. We have prob­lems in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem to­day be­cause in­stead of com­ple­ment­ing the work of our past lead­ers by bring­ing new ideas, we are de­stroy­ing them.

In or­der to en­hance our ed­u­ca­tional de­vel­op­ment, we should go back ex­ten­sively to the HSC tra­di­tion. Most of the good sec­ondary schools should offer HSC and that will not put pres­sure on the uni­ver­sity as it is now. Also, the univer­si­ties should be al­lowed to ad­mit their own stu­dents as it was in the past as well as con­duct their own ex­am­i­na­tion with­out JAMB. There were lots of in­ter­fer­ence in our ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor which hin­dered its de­vel­op­ment.

DT: What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween the time you went to school and now?

Dur­ing our time, both teach­ers and stu­dents were com­mit­ted to im­pact and ac­quire knowl­edge re­spec­tively, but now there is no such com­mit­ment. Also, there was em­pha­sis on ed­u­ca­tion and food se­cu­rity then which made ev­ery­one to work hard but now em­pha­sis is on ac­qui­si­tion of naira, dol­lars, cars and cor­rup­tion. I think there should be proper ori­en­ta­tion on that to save the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

DT: What is your view on strike ac­tion in pub­lic ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions across the coun­try?

Ijaodola: I work in a pri­vate in­sti­tu­tion and we don’t go on strike be­cause the pro­pri­etors are there to lis­ten and at­tend to de­mands im­me­di­ately. Gov­ern­ment should al­ways lis­ten to lec­tur­ers and not wait un­til they go on strike. One thing that is not good in our uni­ver­sity is the ap­point­ment of Vice Chan­cel­lors. They pick peo­ple not based on merit but be­cause they have peo­ple in gov­ern­ment. I have ap­plied in five univer­si­ties for Vice Chan­cel­lor’s po­si­tion but I was not taken be­cause I don’t know any­body in po­si­tion. I have been a mem­ber of the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity for about 31 years; I was Dean of law for about eight years, HOD nine years, mem­ber of Coun­cil of Le­gal Ed­u­ca­tion eight years but I don’t have any­body to say ‘come and be this’.

DT: What is your take on Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s cor­rup­tion fight?

Ijaodola: Pres­i­dent Buhari is try­ing in the fight against cor­rup­tion. For him to ex­pose the big peo­ple who em­bez­zled bil­lions of naira of pub­lic fund, he should be com­mended for his courage. Whether there are flaws in the fight or not is im­ma­te­rial be­cause he has been able to ex­pose them. Peo­ple are talk­ing about re­ces­sion, who caused it? It was caused grad­u­ally by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment. So let us com­mend Pres­i­dent Buhari but my fear is the ju­di­cial sys­tem with its slow ad­ju­di­ca­tion sys­tem and un­nec­es­sary ob­jec­tions.

To ef­fec­tively fight cor­rup­tion, the Ghana­ian tra­di­tion is needed. We must have a tri­bunal or spe­cial court for cor­rupt cases with a man­date to fin­ish cases within three to six months pe­riod. It should be done in a way that hu­man rights will not be tam­pered with.

DT: What do say about gov­er­nors who have col­lected bailout fund but could not still pay salaries?

Gov­er­nors are part of Nige­ria’s prob­lem. If state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments use their money ju­di­ciously, there would be ro­bust eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties at both lev­els of gover­nance but the state gov­ern­ment cor­ners all the money meant for the state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment. The gov­er­nors are killing the econ­omy of Nige­ria be­cause they col­lect money ev­ery month but can’t pay salary to their work­ers. It is a clear case of di­ver­sion of fund. I think fi­nan­cial au­ton­omy for lo­cal gov­ern­ment would be the best.

DT: 2019 is around the cor­ner, what is your ad­vice to the elec­torate?

The cit­i­zen should open their eye and vote in cred­i­ble peo­ple. INEC should regulate the amount of money po­lit­i­cal par­ties can charge for form, they should stream­line elec­tion and de­mys­tify money pol­i­tics so that cred­i­ble peo­ple can con­test elec­tion. I have in­ter­est in con­test­ing elec­tion but I don’t have the money. Po­lit­i­cal par­ties are ask­ing for mil­lions for nom­i­na­tion form and with that, it is dif­fi­cult for pro­fes­sors like me to delve into pol­i­tics. When peo­ple spend much money on elec­tion, what do you ex­pect from them? They will first re­coup the money they bor­rowed.

DT: What is your mes­sage to Pres­i­dent Buhari?

He should con­tinue to ex­hibit courage in the fight against cor­rup­tion be­cause it is our prob­lem. All the money they have stolen, if col­lected, can fix our roads, pro­vide free ed­u­ca­tion at all lev­els. He should search for cred­i­ble peo­ple that are in­tel­li­gent and tech­nocrats from the uni­ver­sity and other places and make them serve their coun­try. The vice pres­i­dent, who was my teacher in the uni­ver­sity, is there. He should join the pres­i­dent to get the right peo­ple to com­ple­ment the good job the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion is do­ing.

Prof. Rasheed Ji­moh Ijaodola

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