Opinion: The Timely Warning, Hijabophobia and LTV Intrigues – Jamiu Jaji

Nigerians received with great shock and trepidation the news of the relief of a notable broadcaster, Mrs Tinuke Oloruntoyin-Folami from her erstwhile role of a newscaster on Lagos Television (LTV), and turk into the production crew allegedly on the premise of her use of hijab.

This is yet another insult too many – an unjust victimization and persecution of an innocent soul, a disturbing case of gender inequality and discrimination against women.

It is also an unfortunate case of social segregation and radical profiling by people in position of power who have suddenly transformed into ‘colonial Missionaries,’ against the civil service code of her job descriptions. It is a case of fallen a victim to power play by the appointees of government in a democratic dispensation.

I dare ask: who is afraid of hijab? Who is developing high blood pressure because an innocent Muslim lady merely goes about her normal life, peacefully and dutifully? Who wishes to jump into the lagoon because of self-inflicted hatred and rage for other people’s way of life!

Reliable sources from within and outside confirm that  Mrs Oloruntoyin-Folami was relieved of her role simply because a few top level management officials suddenly became ‘threatened’, irritated and uncomfortable by her hijab – her normal dress mode which every fan of hers has come to appreciate and identified with.

While her fellow newscasters, Muslims and Non-Muslims alike, attest to her brilliance and excellent performance on the job as a newscaster, it remains a mystery how and why her donning hijab – which she has always adorned – suddenly came to be a source of mortal insecurity to some bigots.

The Big Questions

The situation has indeed, thrown up a challenge of explanation to the Director of News, Ms Siju Alabi and her boss, the General Manager, Mr Deji Balogun for Oloruntoyin-Folami’s teaming fans, on why she was stopped from casting news. The management truly needs to come out and educate the populace how a publicly-funded entity and collective patrimony suddenly becomes the exclusive preserve of a particular faith and or a denomination.

Some of those who have followed the scenario have asked rhetorically, has LTV been handed over to a Christian Missionary establishment for exclusive control just as some schools were handed over in the past?

Some also inquired to be re-assured whether the implementation of the call for total ‘take-over’ of the country by the General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye in the wake of the FRC- RCCG impasse has not begun in earnest. Juxtaposed again with the persistent and incendiary call on Christians to resort to self-help by Bishop David Oyedepo in his numerous inciting sermons available online, Shouldn’t the Muslims be asking: ‘Are we safe’?

This question has then become imperative as the latest unwarranted hijab victimization is yet another affront on the collective sensibilities of the Muslims – the one that will not be allowed to go unchallenged!

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode must, therefore, come out clean on which side he belongs – the oppressed or the oppressor; and whose scripts the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde; the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Folarin Adeyemi; the General Manager, Deji Balogun; and the Director of News, Ms Siju Alabi are acting.

Fears allayed

Let it be clear to all, that Muslims are not against any group or individual calling for investigation into this matter, but latent instinct tells us and experience reminds us not to forget the untold persecution and victimization suffered by our fore-fathers in the hands of earlier over-zealous Christian missionaries whose life-long mission and obsession was to convert Muslims forcefully into their fold.

Let it be stated that this latest development is a new phase of neo-colonialism, another wakeup call for the young Muslims in pursuit of yet another chapter in their age-long noble fight for dignity, honour and respect for their faith and way of life – especially from adherents of Christianity – the direct heir of the colonial masters with their 3Rs.

On daily basis, Muslim kids and wards are harassed and victimized in schools. Some are beaten and forced to conduct prayer-worship in ways contrary to their faith or the belief of the parents. As we speak, just as it has been since the colonial days, most governments owned schools allocate four out of five schooling days (Monday-Thursday) to Christian assembly and grudgingly leave only Friday for Muslims  – that is just an insignificant expression of the untold injustice and inequality Muslims suffer. This is without mentioning the harassment at the point of official biometric registration of various forms – be it for Drivers license, National ID card etc.

Call for peaceful co-existence

The call, therefore, in the interest of peaceful coexistence and progress of our society, is to evolve a truly egalitarian society where honest, sincere, genuine, just and respectful dealings are obtained from the ‘always-feeling-insecure’ minority elements within Christendom.

For Muslims have no reasons to hold this development against the entire Christians as a group, knowing full well that this is the handiwork of extremist elements within the Christian fold just like they exist in other religious groups. Muslims should definitely hold no grudge against the Christians when, indeed, some of the inside sources providing helpful information on this unjust act are themselves genuine Christians – who are imbued with conscience and who have refused the invitation to religious bigotry, hatred and over-zealousness.

The real issue

What must be fought against is the ‘agenda’ of these  intolerant few and religiously conceited ‘minority’ who are bent on forcefully foistering their unChrist-like belief, concept and precepts on others without due regards to the rights and privileges of those concerned.

The double-facedness and hypocrisy of the 21st century “emergency evangelists’  cannot cease to amuse one as they profess: ‘love thy neighbours as thyself’ on one hand while harbouring hatred and resentments in their hearts against their neighbours on the other hand. Their often disguised ‘neutrality’ and ‘impartiality’ are easily given away by their contrary demeanour, conduct, body language and actions which readily reveal them as dangerous wolves hiding in sheep skin.

Perhaps their often-mouthed ‘love thy neighbour‘ proclamation simply means – being fair, kind and just only to those who belong to the same denomination. Little wonder then why one occasionally hears how these kind of people sometimes extend their bigotry and animosity to their fellow Christians who they perceive as being on ‘the path of error’.

May they be reminded that the mission they have chosen to embark upon is doomed right from the start. Perhaps what they have succeeded in doing is reminding the Muslim Youth on the need for eternal vigilance and more importantly the need for a total break from the erstwhile indifference, passivism and inaction towards a virile activism, assertiveness and robust engagement

Let it be known that past unrelenting onslaughts and unwarranted  repression on Muslims over the years which hitherto went unchallenged have all gone with those era. The world has graciously arrived at the Information Age and Muslims are proud citizens of the era. Today’s Muslims are ready to stand up for their rights, honour, belief and values and will take no more humiliation from no one.

The usual excuses of officialdom from the government quarters is no longer tenable.

Once again, thank you LTV for that reminder – the call the Muslims have now heeded.

The earlier this message sinks the better!

Jamiu Jaji, a prominent social critic writes from Lagos.

This article was originally published by The Renaissanceng



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