The Minister stated this at the 70th Anniversary of the College in Keffi, Nasarawa State, on Saturday, noting that if Nigerians would allow themselves to be guided by the Keffi Model, the present atmosphere of disunity at all levels – religious, ethnic, regional, etc – will disappear and peace will return to the nation.
“In our time, only the very best from the 13 Provinces in the North made it to Government College, Keffi. Religion, ethnicity, social status….did not matter. Your academic prowess was your ticket to the school. The school was also a leveler. The children of peasants mixed freely with the children of the rich and the well connected.
“Remember the North is very diversified. You have the Hausa, Fulani, Jukun, Bachama, Tiv, Ogori, even Yoruba, etc. That meant that for the students of Government College, Keffi, of our time, it was a ‘rainbow coalition’ of sorts. We had students from all the 13 Provinces plus more. For example, an Igbo boy living in any of the 13 provinces was free to write the entrance exam into Keffi and, if successful, was admitted,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said even though the Keffi Emirate, where the school is situated, is Muslim, Christians attended the school without discrimination.
“In fact, one of the most important days for us as students was ‘Ash Wednesday’, because on that day we had fish on the menu. Some Christian students also fasted along with those of us who are Muslims during the Ramadan, especially because Muslim students got a richer menu as an incentive throughout the fasting period, in addition to eating ‘sari’,” he said.
While imploring Nigerians to emulate and revive the ‘Keffi spirit’, the Minister urged the people to de-emphasize ethnicity, religion and social status and co-exist as Nigerians.
He expressed the belief that if Nigerians do that, the nation would have succeeded in reducing to the barest minimum the areas of friction and today’s atmosphere of ethnic and religious suspicion, disunity, etc, will cease to exist.
“Boko Haram insurgents will no longer be able to use religion as a source of division. Unscrupulous politicians will no longer be able to divide us using ethnicity,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
The dignitaries who graced the occasion include the Governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Abdullahi Sule; the Emir of Keffi, Alhaji Shehu Chindo Yamusa; the former Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Bello Salim and retired Supreme Court Justice James Ogebe