Lagos Hijab Imbroglio: We Must Separate Office From Religion – MURIC
Sequel to the response given by the Lagos State Deputy Governor to a question on hijab in which she gave the official government position, some concerned Muslims raised eye brows immediately. Although we made an attempt to douse tension by issuing a press statement immediately the issue broke in the public domain, we are still constrained to update our press release on this burning issue.
We fully understand and respect the feelings of fellow Muslims who expressed concern. Most people expressed genuine fear without an iota of malice. We appreciate them. But the facts must be put on the table and critically analysed in order to avoid hurting the innocent and labeling a committed Mother-of-Islam unjustly.
She was confronted with a delicate question during a television interview. The question had to do with Islam, her own personal faith and hijab to be precise. Incidentally the state government already has an official position on the issue and she happens to be the sitting deputy governor. Ceteris paribus, she is expected to give the official position of the state government. Anything to the contrary would have been tantamount to desecration of the office she holds, a betrayal of her sacred oath of office and an attempt to undermine the state government.
Muslims in Lagos State and all over the country must consider the fact that the question was put to her as the Deputy Governor, not as a Muslim. The fact that she gave the official position of the state government does not mean that she has jettisoned her faith or abandoned her fellow Muslims. She does not need to betray her personal emotions in official matters.
It was a difficult moment. Whereas a judge can afford to step down in a case in which he has personal interest, like when his junior brother is arraigned before him, a politician cannot resign because he is a stakeholder in an issue in which the press seeks to know the government’s official position. Parrying the question could have been worse as it is likely to imply that she had something to hide.
We must separate government officials from their religion in order to get the best out of them. Dr. Mrs. Idiat Adebule is well respected in academic and political circles. But she is not the ‘Deputy Governor of Lagos Muslims’. She is the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, of the good and progressive people of Lagos State, of the indigenes and non-indigenes and of the Christians, the Muslims and the Traditionalists.
She is therefore expected to speak for all and attend to all regardless of tribe or faith. She should not be guillotined for giving the official position of the state government. She would have been deemed to have failed in her duty if she had done otherwise.
In view of the foregoing, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) hereby reposes full confidence in the Lagos State Deputy Governor. We are proud of her as a practicing Muslim, a non-extremist and a public servant of high integrity. We appeal to the Deputy Governor to treat the events of the last few days with equanimity. It is part of the challenges and sacrifices of leadership. We plead with her to bear the comments with fortitude and to continue to serve the state with her well known passion, accommodation and humility.
We invite Muslims in Lagos State and indeed in the whole country to join us in working for peace and progress in Lagos State. We appeal to Muslims who expressed the fear ab initio that the Deputy Governor had abandoned her fellow Muslims to ponder over the above analysis for a better assessment of the situation. We are all working towards the emancipation of the oppressed Muslims of Nigeria. We assure you that there will be no retreat, no surrender until our goals of equal rights and justice are attained.
We remain oppressed until the right of the Muslim girl to use hijab is fully recognized everywhere in Nigeria. Hijab is the symbol of our right to self-determination and we will employ every legitimate means to ensure it becomes fait accompli.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)