Jola Naibi

Writer and amateur photog. I seek to inspire and inform with the words I write and share and the photos I take. I have written a book of short stories: Terra Cotta Beauty, and I am working on a lot more. Reading and writing fuel my energy. In reading, I explore this vast and diverse world, in writing, I employ my over-active imagination and address the 'what-if' questions that life often throws at us.

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Stand in Prayer and Not in Judgment

By on July 27, 2007

Students who graduate from Covenant University in Nigeria must not only fulfill the academic requirements of achieving the optimum level of the grade point average, they also need to take other tests before the university gives them their degree – HIV and pregnancy. Unlike the other tests they have to take…these are tests they need to fail, otherwise according to what I have read – they would not be allowed to graduate.

The University Mission/Vision according to their website is to be a leading world-class Christian Mission University, committed to raising a new generation of leaders in all fields of human endeavor. Their mission also includes – to create knowledge and restore dignity of the black man.

I try to align this mission and vision statement with a regulation which makes it mandatory for ALL students who are graduating from this higher institution to test negative for HIV otherwise they will not be allowed to graduate. I am guessing that because the HIV testing requirement is paired with the pregnancy test for the ladies…the university –which is a Christian university – is trying to prevent sexual promiscuity among its students.

Someone should let them know that although HIV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, there are other ways to contract the virus. There’s the example of the late Kimberly Bergalis who got the virus from her dentist. Children are born HIV-positive because their mothers have the virus. There is the much-publicized case of the newborn who received a blood transfusion at birth and because of negligence on the part of the medical staff contracted the virus from the AIDS-tainted blood. HIV can be transmitted through unsafe injections, razors – think shaving sticks and barber’s clippers and also needles for sewing weaves. That being said, so what if there is a student who is HIV-positive and who contracted the virus as a result of sexual intercourse. And so what…the university will deny this person their degree for that reason

I think the National University Commission or whatever regulatory body oversees universities in the country needs to step in and put an end to this high-handed approach which promotes the stigma of people living with HIV. In my opinion, for a university which claims to have a Christian foundation – I find this stand very un-Christianly…the Bible teaches us to stand in prayer and not in judgment and it makes little sense to me for Covenant University to take this approach with students. We are faced with a situation where a young adult attending the University (not just those who are graduating mind you, because it seems this senseless rule will be applied to everyone) who for whatever reason discovers that he or she is either pregnant or HIV-positive rather than reaching out to a guidance counselor or similar authority figure who would be able to guide them to the point where they can make an informed decision, they have to keep it under wraps and take steps which in some cases can be fatal – unsafe abortions or worse. Universities are supposed to be a haven where a young person can be nurtured and groomed to the point where they can stand on their own feet not hounded, grilled or terrorized.

A number of concerned Nigerians are planning a media address and mass protest against Covenant University’s narrow-minded rule.

Here are the details:

Date – Monday July 30, 2007
Time – 11.00am
Venue – Positive Action for Treatment Access First Floor Holy Trinity Hospital Plaza
Adesina Street, Off Obafemi Awolowo Way Ikeja, Lagos

Additional information is available here

The organizers would like to inform the public that it is not a protest against Winner’s Chapel – the Church that Covenant University is affiliated with or the Church in Nigeria as a whole.

I believe it might act as a forum for enlightening the university authorities and perhaps with a little more knowledge they can join the rest of the world as we all collectively stand in prayer and not in judgment when we think of the millions of people who are living with HIV in our world

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11 Comments
  1. Reply

    snazzy

    July 27, 2007

    hear hear, covenant has been annoying me for a while now. I honestly think that coddling young adults does not prepare them for life in the real world and that is what covenant does to its students. However it is leveraging the fact that it is one of the few good universities in naij and so it feels like it can do what it likes. Anyway i’m done. Laters

  2. Reply

    Jola Naibi

    July 27, 2007

    I agree with you ‘coddling’ them is not ‘helping’ them in fact in terms of the real world it is likely to do them more harm than good. True, it is good to set a high standard in terms of everything and from the little I have heard, I understand that the university scores big points when it comes to being accredited. But that does not mean it should become a ‘glorified secondary school’ This is a university – there should be some sort of liberty – young adults should be allowed to be themselves and not have ‘BIG BROS’ watching over them night and day…I get the sense that the HIV/pregnancy test is just little compared to what young adults have to endure when attending this college of higher learning. Does it mean that when the rubber hits the road and the kids from Covenant are side by side with kids from other universities, the Covenant kids will be dull, party-poopers, non-risk-takers, never-been kissed, permission to fall-out, regimented to a tee type of kids.. I shudder. I am not promoting immorality…just venting…because it is a hard-knock life and coddling them is certainly not doing them any favors. This makes no sense to me

    Thanks for stopping by Snazz…always a pleasure

  3. Reply

    Omosewa

    July 27, 2007

    Really high-handed, they too do.Hiss. They actually held them back for a whole month after exams, nonsense and intente.

    Have a great weekend!!!

  4. Reply

    SOLOMONSYDELLE

    July 30, 2007

    HEH? wonders will never cease. this backwardness is annoying. It seems that some in nija just want to ignore things they should know. just like lagos and their indecency police raids. utter madness. thanks for the headsup on this….

  5. Reply

    Jola Naibi

    July 30, 2007

    @omosewa – I feel your pain…they need to get rid of these primitive laws…I understand that students are not allowed to have cellphones because of the threat of secret cults…makes no sense to me

    @SS – and the rest of the world is in the dot com era..which way forward!

  6. Reply

    catwalq

    July 30, 2007

    I am sick and tired of all this bullshit. Rather than channel their efforts to rectifying the havoc that their colleagues have reeked on the educational system, they are pouring money into “institutions” that are producing youth who are unable to think for themselves and require a functional system to survive.
    That is why I will take a graduate from a federal government institution anyday.
    I have no time for baby-ied boys and girls. As far as promiscuity is concerned, the ones who make the most noise about religion are usually the most sexually deviant.
    NONSENSE!!!!!

  7. Reply

    omohemi Benson

    July 31, 2007

    When I read it I was it is a HUGE JOKE! until a couple of people confirmed it.
    it is like the way religion is taken in Nigeria instead of guiding and helping the condemn.

    so the HIV or pregnant person is not worthy to study,or he or she not worthy of the love of God.
    the authorities had better get their priorities right.

    glad many of us are talking and doing things about it, unlike the normally siddon look style.
    I hope the NUC takes a stand on it, it makes no sense at all.

  8. Reply

    Nonesuch

    August 7, 2007

    let me play the devil’s advocate. the folks who enrol their wards in the CU are getting what they asked for. If u signed the matric registry i guess the law of testing is bidding on you. I mean they should have expected this when at the interviews for admission you were asked to recite memory verses from the Bible.you are asked to review the Chancellor’s book every session as part of your course work. I mean what should you not expect from as a criteria for graduation? I personally know a muslim lady whose wedding date was already fixed.She was not allowed to graduate cos she was preggies.how is our light shining as christains in this particular instance?
    What test do they have for the male students? how do they know if the valecditorian’s girlfriend is not preggies in University of Ife or Lag? Is it ok for the guys to be doing it aand sign there is no way u can tell they get to graduate. Is it ok to sex but not be preggies? what exactly is the issue? HIV or Per marital sex, or morals?

    Every man for himself God for us all.

  9. Reply

    pam

    August 13, 2007

    I love your commentary on this. Its gratifying to note that the Minister for Education and the NUC have spoken against it and have summoned the Chancellor to explain himself. For Naija this is swift and promising. The minister for education is a muslim woman.

  10. Reply

    Anonymous

    August 14, 2007

    It doesn’t matter that I will be expressing a different opinion from all the comments here.
    I am not the spokeman for Covenant University but it grieves my heart when our reactions are based on newspapers reports and hearsays. I listened to the interview Channels TV had with the registrar of the University and fully supported what they are doing. I am sure NACA will regret shouting before checking things out. Can we at least credit Bishop Oyedepo with some degree of responsibility? He knows better not to have laws that runs contrary to the constitution of the FGN.
    I believe people have problems with the kind of stringent (but appropriate) rules that are in place at the university and so will celebrate an issue like this. It’s a matter of choice – you can choose not to attend Covenant when you get there and see those rules.
    I challenge you to keep following this development and the total truth will come out at the end.

  11. Reply

    Jola Naibi

    August 15, 2007

    @ catwalq – you have a point…the Federal and State Universities have a tried and tested regimen but I guess the private universities will be learning as they go along and this is an example of that

    @omohemi – hopefully something meaningful will come out of the uproar and maybe the university authorities will take some time to inform themselves and change this awful law

    @nonesuch – I am sorry to hear about your friend…isn’t that a shame. I think it is an infringement of human rights if the university is allowed to get away with that.

    @ pam – Thanks for the update. Let’s continue to follow the story. I am really curious to know what the outcome of this is and look forward to hearing from you and anyone else who would be kind enough to update. Not being on the ground in Naija often makes it difficult to follow stories like this dedicatedly

    @ anon – Nor am I a spokesperson against CU. I think you are missing the point a little. This is not a personal attack against the institution or the Chancellor. We have to admit that what is going on here is discrimination pure and simple. My point remains this – if people who stand as authority figures can make a stand against people living with HIV to the point where it begins to foster feelings of stigma and discrimination among the general and often unenlightened public…we have a big problem on our hands. There was the case years ago of the lady in South Africa who was stoned to death because she declared that she was HIV-positive. While I hope and pray that this incident is NEVER replicated anywhere else, we must not lose sight of the fact that it is one person who threw the first stone and it is one person who incited that person to throw that stone. Singling out HIV-positive students from a graduating class and refusing to give them their degree is not a civilized action. No, I will not credit anyone who does that with ANY degree of responsibility. It is not about the ‘stringent rule’ that CU has promulgated…it is more about the message that rule is sending to the general public and the potential impact it could have.I still want to believe that this decision was made out of ignorance and misinformation – and once this has been addressed and the folks involved have enlightened themselves, things will change and we can move on. Let’s wait and see…time will tell. Thanks for stopping by.

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