By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Nigeria’s House of Representatives has asked the Federal Government and other sub-national governments to place a ban on the production, importation and the use of educational materials, including a popular children’s textbook, “Queen Primer” in schools across the country, a material it says contains words like “gay”, “eros” and others considered to be “offensive.”
The call is in response to the adoption of a motion moved by Sulaiman Gumi (PDP, Zamfara) on Thursday during plenary, who said there is a covert attempt to slip books with “immoral culture” into primary and secondary schools in Nigeria.
According to the lawmaker, ‘Queen Primer’ subtly introduces terms like ‘gay’, ‘eros’, etc, that communize sexual perversion and immoral behaviours, thus exposing innocent children to terms inappropriate for their age, which is unlawful, unethical, highly immoral and antithetical to child upbringing.”
While underlining that the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) has the statutory responsibility to vet educational material, the member of parliament said there is a “need to instil and protect moral values in children and society at large by resisting the use of educational materials that teach or promote any form of alien behaviour which violates the laws and moral values in all educational institutions.”
Speaking in support of the motion, Bello El-Rufai (APC, Kaduna) said he had to withdraw his daughter from a primary school in Abuja for using the book.
Mr El-Rufai, who claimed to speak for the young people, said there is a subtle attempt to “catch young people young” through the books.
“There is an Act and the terms are clear. I will get personal and tell you that I moved my daughter from a school, whose name I will not mention for obvious reasons, and i found out that for nursery school, they thought it was okay for that book to be shared.
“I studied in America for a long time, and one thing that kept me grounded is because of our culture. When we were there, we respected their culture and their ways. The only thing we say is when you are here, you do the same,” Mr El-Rufai said.
The Deputy Speaker, Ben Kalu, who presided over the plenary session, in his contribution, said the parliament has a responsibility to protect Nigerians and future generations.
“As an arm of government, we owe this nation this protection, especially this coming generation,” Mr Kalu said.
Following the debate, the House resolved to urge federal, state and local governments to place a total ban on the local production, importation and use of any educational material that contains such words that teach or promote Lesbianism, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) in schools throughout the country.
It also urged the Federal Ministry of Education, the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council and the Education Research Council (ERC) to carefully vet and censor the contents of educational materials used in Nursery and Primary schools in the country and ensure that they are appropriate and devoid of any connotation of pervasive culture.