For the past twenty four hours, the internet has been awash with screaming headlines and stories, like:‘’ Breaking news: Governor Ayade suspends prayer and assembly sessions in all public and private schools in CRS.’’ ‘’CROSS RIVERS STATE GOVERNMENT BANS PRAYERS IN ALL SCHOOLS’’. ‘’ Religious tension brews in Cross River’’
‘’ CALABAR—RELIGIOUS tension is brewing in Cross River State, after the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, rejected the directive by the state government to stop morning devotion in secondary and primary schools across the state, saying such a directive is totally unacceptable to the association.’’ The stories and reactions were/are many and varied.
My first reaction to this was, ’’what an apostasy?’’ And at such a time that cohesion and fusion is required in the social-religious and political firmament to drive the reformation and regeneration of our society – ‘’with the street kids syndrome, Prostitutes, Cultism and other deep rooted vices.’’ Why would Governor Ben Ayade, so brazenly negate and torpedo all his progressive attempts at moving away from our past, by confronting Christendom? In one fell swoop?
Apostasy is the formal disaffiliation from, or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. It can also be defined within the broader context of embracing an opinion contrary to one’s previous beliefs. One who commits apostasy (or who apostatizes) is known as an apostate. The term apostasy is used by sociologists to mean renunciation and criticism of, or opposition to, a person’s former religion, in a technical sense and without pejorative connotation.
B. J. Oropeza, in his ‘’New Testament ‘’, identifies at least three dangers which could lead a Christian to commit apostasy:
Temptations: Christians were tempted to engage in various vices that were a part of their lives before they became Christians (idolatry, sexual immorality, covetousness, etc.).
Deceptions: Christians encountered various heresies and false teachings spread by false teachers and prophets that threatened to seduce them away from their pure devotion to Christ.
Persecutions: Christians were persecuted by the governing powers of the day for their allegiance to Christ. Many Christians were threatened with certain death if they would not deny Christ.
I posit that there are more reasons for these probable infractions, prominent of which is a desire or lure for epiphanies and serendipity. Despite being confounded by this news, I deemed it necessary to dig deeper.
The statement said: “Sequel to the letter from the Ministry of Education with reference No MOE/S132/VOL 1, by the Permanent Sectary of the Ministry of Education dated October 21, directing public and private primary/secondary schools across the state to suspend all assemblies (morning and afternoon) till further notice.’’
Mrs Anne Odey, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education in the state, had last week, written a letter to all schools across the state, both primary and secondary, ordering the suspension of morning and afternoon devotions.
Then I read another statement from the Cross River State Government, thus:
‘’Governor Ben Ayade suspense Mrs. Anne Odey Permanent secretary, ministry of Education for the Ban of prayers at schools. Sets up 3 man committee to investigate her – CSG’’
This led me to further confirm my discovery of what really happened. The Cross River State police Command, based on security information, was worried that the Boko Haram, were planning to Bomb gatherings in the Southern Parts of Nigeria, including Cross River State. So as a pre-emptory measure, the Command had issued warnings to potential targets, including Primary and Secondary Schools.
On being availed of this information, Mrs Anne Odey, the Permanent Secretary, CRS Ministry of Education, suo moto, issued the directives to Ban Schools’ Prayers, till further notice, via: MOE/S132/VOL 1,of 21 October,2015 In the absence of an active or substantive Commissioner for Education, she did what she did.
FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION:
When Mr Henry Fadairo, the CRS Police Commissioner divulge certain information to the CRS Government, he did that in line with what he is here to do – pre-empt and prevent crime. At the time in question, the Governor and Deputy Governor were not informed. The Permanent Secretary, CRS Ministry of Education, Mrs Anne Odey, did not deem it necessary to inform her boss. Who else, in the line of command, knew about this information? An act of apostasy was committed, which their boss is now bearing the brunt. When there is a crack in the wall, the lizard will have a chance to come in.
The Governor has reversed the ban, suspended Mrs Odey from Office and instituted a three man committee headed by the Deputy Governor, to investigate this attempt at apostasy. What about the others in the line of communication of security information to the Governor? It is not only in schools that we gather: we gather in the markets, Churches, motor parks and Sports arena/grounds and a formal security sensitization of the citizenry would have been carried out in the light of these threats. But that was not done. When the nose becomes stuffy, the eyes feel it.
To recap, the Governor and the Deputy governor were not aware of the security information and challenge, divulged to the CRS Government by the CP,CRS Police Command. The Governor did not authorise the directive to ban Prayers in School, but the buck stops in the Governor’s office – and he has rightly reversed the directive.
By the Governor’s timely intervention, he has avoided a religious confrontation with the Christian Association of Nigeria, CRS and at least ninety-six per cent of the populace/Electorate. The Cross River State Government, by all indications, is not primed for a descent to Apostasy. Ever.
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