By Tobi Adebayo
Social media went agog with viral pictures of some National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, members bearing banners with inscriptions like “Our sisters cannot dress like men. They should be decently covered”, “We are not worldly. We are true children of God.”
The group known as Serve With Skirts Movement were protesting against the mandatory wearing of khaki trousers by female members.
The female members of the group were pictured wearing khaki skirts, with some male corps members showing solidarity by joining in the protest.
The pictures were received with mixed reactions, with some social media users condemning the group and their protest while others supported the movement, saying it was their fundamental human right.
“Fighting for skirts to be included in NYSC uniform??? Instead of fighting for an increase in the allawee.Lol, instead of fighting for Corps members getting PPA that will help their choice of career. Instead of fighting for enough jobs after NYSC. This country na AYLive,” Twitter user, Tife Fabunmi wrote.
Another Twitter user, Young Otutu, wrote “Lest we forget, the moment we began to allow the amendment of our laws to accommodate dressing codes of certain faith. Eg: Call to bar girl, Hijab on Nysc etc, It became right to allow others dress the way the desire. To this end, there is no harm if corps members wear skirts”.
The clamour for corps members to be allowed to wear skirts did not start with the Serve With Skirts Movement. In 2019, two female corps members were decamped from Ebonyi Orientation Camp for refusing to wear the mandatory white shorts.
Okafor Love Obianuju and Odji Oritsetsolaye were spotted by the Camp Director during routine morning inspection, wearing white T-shirts and skirts.
Okafor and Oritsetsolaye reportedly insisted they could not go against their faith which bars them from wearing trousers and adamantly refused to change to the shorts given to them at camp.
The clamour, no matter how illogical it seems, should have been expected from the moment a lawyer, Amasa Firdaus, was granted her request to be called to bar, wearing her Hijab.
Firdaus was denied being called to bar after she broke the dress code by wearing her Hijab.
For a country divided along ethnic and religious lines, it was a matter of time before another religious group made demands.
Speaking to AN24.net about the demand for khaki skirts, a corps member, Oluwatoyin Adejare, said, “although I respect their religious beliefs, I think the demand is baseless. Wearing khaki skirts will not be easy for them to perform the Man ‘o’ war activities and other rigorous exercises at camp. Even trousers tear while at it not to talk of skirts.
“Besides, it is safer to wear trousers. Those making demands for the legalisation of skirts are a tiny fraction. There’s no basis for comparing the allowing of hijabs to allowing skirts. Nobody will stop the Christian sisters from tying scarves too. The muslim corps members wear trousers and still look decent while at it.”
A teacher, Adesola Salaudeen, told AN24.net that every Nigerian has a right to practise their own religion but must not be fanatical while at it.
“I understand that it is their religious belief but they should consider the advantages that come with wearing trousers. They are not going to wear it forever. Abiding by this simple rule will not make them candidates of hell.
“However, the government would do good to look into their demand. This country is already divided by religion. Some are already of the opinion that Muslims have more rights than Christians in the country because of this issue. Considering their demand will do us good in the country,” Salaudeen concluded.