MURIC Congratulates Oloyede On His Appointment As Jamb Registrar

Professor Ishaq Oloyede, Secretary General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), was yesterday appointed Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB).

We rejoice with him and wish him a successful tenure. Given his wide experience in university administration, we have no doubt that he would bring positive changes to the national examination body.

MURIC urges the newly appointed Registrar to urgently give a human face to the national examination body. For a starter, all early morning JAMB examinations which start by 6.30 am should be stopped. The earliest an examination of the magnitude organized by JAMB can start is 9 am.

The last JAMB examination held in February 2016 exposed young Nigerians to serious danger. Two female candidates were reportedly kidnapped. Another was killed by hoodlums. Some others had their cell phones and cash snatched by hoodlums on their way to the examination centres because they had to leave home before daylight. The security situation in the country is not yet conducive for such early morning examinations.

We pray that Allah guides his actions and utterances in his capacity as the new JAMB Registrar.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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Sabotage Retarding Nigeria’s Progress – MURIC

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of low performance and delays in the implementation of projects. It has also been blamed for the high level of poverty in the country. Some critics have also insisted that the Buhari administration has not brought about any change at all.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) rejects these allegations. Buhari’s critics are like bad fire fighters who turn attention to the smoke instead of facing the fire. The more they fight the smoke, the more the fire burns and the worse the destruction. They are hypocrites and parasites, the more they look, the less they see.

MURIC cannot stand akimbo and watch Nigeria burn. We must address the real issues. In the first place, this administration has good plans for Nigeria but saboteurs are desperate to sabotage the plans. The main dramatis personae in the camp of Judas is the present leadership of the National Assembly who treacherously seized the mantle of power in the absence of others and without the blessings of party leaders.

The fact that corrupt and overambitious members of the ruling party conspired with the leading opposition party to seize the reins of power in the legislative arm confirms our contention that there was a grand conspiracy to sabotage efforts at saving the Nigerian people from economic and political slavery.

It is this same clique that has constituted itself into a bottle neck in the National Assembly (NASS). But for the saboteurs, enabling laws for the creation of special courts for looters would have been promulgated. The smooth running of administration has also been made difficult by the attendant strain in the relationship between the executive and the legislature. The long delay in the passage of the 2016 budget as well as the unnecessary buck-passing and the ping-pong which characterized the exercise eloquently attest to our contention.

Nigerians must open their eyes wider to recognize the real enemies of the people. We have a president who is universally recognized as a man of unparalleled integrity. But politicians who have skeletons in their cupboards have hijacked the legislature. With the remote control of the NASS in the hands of political caterpillars outside the hallowed house, a diabolical bloc continues to strangulate our land.

With hindsight, it has also become very glaring that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s concession of defeat was done in bad faith. He laid deadly landmines in the path of his successor and clearing these traps has not only been Herculean but also time-consuming. The current militancy in the Niger Delta is not an accident. It was in ‘Plan B’.

The saboteurs know that Buhari can get Nigeria out of the woods. Therefore they plan to frustrate his efforts. The idea is to create an economic cul de sac arising from inability to export oil. They expect this to make it impossible to execute projects which Buhari promised Nigerians. They also expect it to worsen the level of poverty. The next stage is to incite hungry Nigerians into an ‘uprising’ against the Buhari administration and force his resignation or impeachment by an already compromised NASS.

Nigerians must reject this satanic plan. The jamaaheer (masses) must be on alert. We must resist the temptation to vent our spleen on the present administration. We must evolve a shock absorber system capable of resisting the pangs of hunger and poverty. We must reengineer our societal values and norms and renounce materialism, corruption, greed, avarice and waste. We must say ‘No’ to political charlatans and eschew ethnicity, nepotism and religious bigotry.

Contrary to the claim of critics, Nigerians have witnessed lots of change since Buhari took over. For example, corruption is no longer celebrated, hitherto sacred cows now spend months in detention, leakages are being blocked, money-sucking government agencies have become money-spinners, states have been able to identify thousands of ghost workers thereby saving billions of naira, ministers no longer engage in frivolous expenditures and flambouyance, etc. It is only the blind and the mischievious who will pretend not to see all these.

In conclusion, MURIC reminds Nigerians that they should blame saboteurs for Nigeria’s present predicament. Buhari deserves encomiums for his steadfastness and high sense of discipline. We call on religious leaders to direct their followers to work for the progress of this country. We charge church clerics and Imams to pray fervently for the success of the Buhari administration, for peace and prosperity.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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Immunity For NASS Members: We Smell A Rat – MURIC

There was pandemonium in the House of Representatives yesterday when members debated a bill seeking to amend Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution which confers immunity on the executive arm of the Nigerian government. The sponsor of the bill is proposing immunity for leaders and principal officers of the House.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) rejects this attempt to shield lawmakers from the law made by them. It is despicable, outrageous and preposterous. Simply put, it is legislative rascality. This legislature will go down in history as the most controversial, most self-centered and most unproductive.

Coming at a time when the leadership of the National Assembly (NASS) is facing court trial over criminal charges, the timing of the bill is not only suspect, it is also infantile and provocative. The proposed bill is self-serving and politically motivated. Its authors seek to gain from the bend what they could not get from the straight. This bill belongs to the dustbin of history.

The NASS is taking Nigerians for a ride. We will not allow that to happen. The proposed bill is a reactionary measure. It is designed to take Nigeria back to the Stone Age. Bothered by the concentration of too much power being wielded by presidents, democracies around the world are seeking to remove immunity even from the executive.

The supreme court of Guatemala successfully stripped its president of immunity in September 2015. How can Nigerian legislators turn themselves into tin gods at a time like this? It had better not be. Whoever wants to enjoy the immunity clause should go to his state and contest for governorship.

We are aware that in the year 2013 a committee of the same House recommended the expunging of the immunity clause for the president and his vice in order to check executive lawlessness. What happened between then and now? How can the present House confer immunity on those who hitherto did not enjoy it? We smell a rat.

It is a calculated assault on two of the basic principles of democracy, namely, probity and accountability. The masses are being skinned alive. First, we cannot hold the executive arm of government accountable until after the end of its tenure and now, the legislature wants to dig in deep. It is not only daylight robbery but also an attempt to subject the citizenry to the tyranny of Draconian legislation. Those who make the law must submit themselves to the same law. Only thus can they have a taste of the pudding.

The refusal of the Speaker of the House to subject the bill to a voice vote is undemocratic and most condemnable. Honourable Dogara wants to turn Nigeria into a huge Animal Farm where all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

The conduct of some of the members of Senate is equally disgraceful. The alleged use of vulgar language by Senator Dino Melaye and his alleged threat to beat up a female colleague in the House is most unbecoming of the status of a parliamentarian and a distinguished senator for that matter. His belligerence constitutes a threat to the continued involvement of Nigerian women in politics.

MURIC calls on female politicians and feminists across the country to speak up on this unprovoked assault on womanhood. The Senate President must call Melaye to order. In addition, female members in the NASS must insist on getting an apology from Melaye.

To sum up, we charge the House of Representatives to throw out the self-serving and politically motivated bill. We urge Nigerian lawmakers to avoid widening the disconnect between them and the electorate, desist from unnecessary confrontation with the executive and adhere to international best practices in parliamentary matters.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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Osun Hijab Controversy: Female Christian Students Should Copy Mary – MURIC

Sequel to the court judgment permitting female Muslim students to use hijab with their school uniforms, Christian students in the State of Osun went to school in church regalia as instructed by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Osun chapter.

While a voluminous hue and cry from various quarters has followed this development, we wish to advise Osun CAN to fall back on doctrinal teachings, model influence as well as precedence in Christendom.  

For doctrinal teaching, Osun CAN should allow the Bible to guide its action on the matter. The Bible enjoins Christian females to cover their heads with a veil (I Corinthians 11:4-13).

As a model for Christian women, Mary the mother of Jesus (peace be upon him) provided the practical example of how a Christian woman should dress. Mary uses veils in all her pictures that we have seen and she should be a model for all Christian women.

Christendom has a precedent in the use of veils by Catholic nuns. There is little or no difference between the Muslim hijab and the Catholic nun’s veil. Osun CAN and indeed all Christian women can adopt this.

So instead of this rancor, we advise synergy between Christian and Muslim doctrinal teachings. The root of religious crisis can be traced to the lacuna between scriptural teachings and the practice among adherents of Christianity and Islam. Although both religions teach love and peaceful coexistence, the practitioners do the opposite.

In this hijab controversy, however, the Muslims have proved more faithful to the teaching of their scripture. They wished to use the hijab with the school uniform but school authorities disallowed them. Instead of taking the law into their hands, they petitioned the state government.

Although Ogbeni Aregbesola is a Muslim he did not give them the permission to use it. Still exercising restraint, they went to court. Afterall the court should always be the final arbiter in a democratic setting. However, the reaction of Osun CAN to the court’s pronouncement leaves much to be desired.

In the present circumstance, we of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) are of the opinion that the way forward is for Osun CAN to dig into Christian archives, design a Christian veil that matches both the colour and stuff of the school uniforms just as the Muslims have done and direct Christian students in the state to use them. 

But nobody should expect female Muslim students of Osun to stop using their hijab after this landmark judgment. The only logical option left is for Osun CAN to seek parity for female Christian students in the state to use the Christian veil on their school uniforms. Osun CAN will be playing dog in the manger if it fails to do this but insists that Muslims should not use their hijab. If someone does not need something, he has no moral right to stop others from using it.

This is where the Osun police command must be on alert. The police must not abdicate its responsibility. MURIC warned not too long ago that the so-called peaceful coexistence that exists in the South West is a very thin veneer. The cord holding Christians and Muslims together in the sub-region can be likened to a single thread of a spider’s web. It is too fragile and it exists because the Muslims have chosen to remain quiet on the issue of religious freedom. We can all see how it is playing out now.

To cement our position, we can trace the origin of the two religions because today was born from the wombs of yesterday. Islam came to Nigeria in 1085. Christianity came in 1842. Islam was in Yorubaland as early as the 17th century, about 200 years before Christianity. But on arrival, the British colonialists enslaved the Muslims by imposing Christian culture on all facets of life in the land at the expense of Islamic landmarks. This should have been addressed after independence but it was not done.

Each time the Muslims ask for their rights, they were told to go and live in Kano or Sokoto if they want to enjoy their rights. We cannot take this discrimination any more. We demand the right to religious freedom. Our right is our right. This is why we support those clamouring for restructuring in Nigeria. The whole gamut of our coexistence must be revisited. They will be surprised that it cannot be about oil alone. South West Muslims demand religious emancipation.

The hijab saga in the State of Osun is informed by the reluctance of Osun CAN to set the Muslims free. CAN has long been promoting a neo-colonial agenda. MURIC advises CAN to let the Muslims go. There is no need for bickering. We can eat together and work together so long as no group lords it on the other. CAN can use its Christian veil. We are already using our hijab.

We could have ignored the church garments which Osun CAN ordered Christian students to wear but it is not even in the interest of Christian children or that of their parents. For how long can the ridiculous show continue? The Muslim hijab is cheap and small. Church regalia is costly and cumbersome. Can the parents afford it all the time? Osun CAN is cutting its nose to spite its face.

Unlike the church garment, hijab is not too conspicuous on a school uniform. The church garment covers up a school uniform whereas hijab leaves the uniform uncovered. It is about head and bosom cover, not about a garment that covers the whole body. CAN missed this point.

Again we have no serious grouse against the use of church garments in school, afterall it is more decent that the short, tight and provocative skirts we call school uniform, except that it elicits public ridicule and promotes indiscipline in schools.

MURIC invites Osun CAN to join hands with us in the fight against indecent dressing and immorality. Nigeria cannot be pretending to fight HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as premarital sex and teenage pregnancy when school uniforms are designed to seduce the opposite sex. We must be serious for once.

In our concluding remark, we remind Osun CAN that Nigeria has experienced enough religious crises. We have lost thousands of our compatriots including properties worth billions of dollars. Neither economic growth nor political stability can be achieved without peace. We therefore urge Osun CAN to tow the path of dialogue in resolving this impasse.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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Osun Chapter Of CAN Breeding Anarchy  – MURIC

The Osun State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria has vowed to order Christian students in public schools to wear church garments to school if Governor Rauf Aregbesola goes ahead to implement the judgement of the state’s High Court giving legal backing to the wearing of hijab to school. Justice Oyedeji Falola of the Osun State High Court, Oshogbo, gave the ruling on 3rd June, 2016.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is worried by this show of collective arrogance. Osun CAN’s threat is a manifestation of poverty of ideas. CAN is at the end of its tethers. The decision to go public with this kind of threat is short in logic, long in mediocrity.

MURIC is constrained to do a brief x-ray of the situation. It is high time Nigerians admitted that there are fanatics and extremists among both Christians and Muslims. It is sad to note that Nigeria is currently sandwiched between fanatical Christians and extremist Muslims. The provocative and neo-colonialist propensities of the fanatical Christians often goad extremist Muslims to violence.

In this particular scenario, Osun CAN has simply upgraded collective fanaticism to officialdom and demonstrated the fact that it has no respect for the rule of law. It should be noted that the threat coming from CAN is tantamount to contempt of court. A competent court of law gives judgement, then the executive body of a religious group which is supposed to know better, starts issuing threats.

Yet in its characteristic manner as an unrepentant anarchist, a confusionist and advocatus diaboli, Osun CAN has appealed against the judgement of the court. Is it therefore not highly hypocritical to still turn around issuing threats? If Osun CAN knew the civilized way to reject a court judgement, why has it also chosen to take the barbaric path parri passu? Why not wait for the outcome of its appeal?

For those who care to reason, we reiterate the rationale for the demand for the use of hijab by female Muslim students in all public schools. Firstly, hijab is divinely commanded in the Glorious Qur’an (24:30-31) and failure to abide attracts Allah’s wrath. Secondly, Freedom to practice and manifest one’s religion is enshrined in Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thirdly, the conventional school uniform was designed by the British colonial masters who, essentially, were Christians. The present school uniform is therefore a Christian uniform and it is being imposed on Muslim students. This, to us, is unacceptable. It is oppressive and sectional. It assails all known principles of democratic practices.

MURIC therefore hails the June 3, 2016 judgement of Justice Oyedeji Falola as fair, balanced and historic. A Daniel is come to judgement.

The threat by Osun CAN stands logic on its head. It is only Muslims who use hijab everywhere they go, whether they are going to the workplace, to attend an official function, to a party or for a friendly visit. They use it whenever they are outdoors. Christians have never been known to do this.

It therefore sounds ridiculous to hear CAN threatening to direct Christian students to use church garments to school. MURIC has two posers for Osun CAN:

  1. Since it is not only female Muslim students who will be using the hijab (all conscious female Muslims in the state use hijab whenever they step out of their houses), will Osun CAN equally order Christian civil servants, businessmen, farmers and artisans in the state to start wearing sultanaand other church garments anywhere they go?
  2. If CAN gives such an order, what kind of church garment will be used by Christians who are neither members of the Celestial Church nor members of any of the white-garment churches?
  3. As female Muslims use their hijab even to social events, will Osun CAN also order all Christians in the state to wear their church garments to all social events including the ‘owambe’ and overnight parties?

The high level of deceit in Osun CAN will be exposed if it fails to issue the above orders to all Christians in the state. CAN is using a tactic known as ‘elimination by procrastination’. The whole idea is to exterminate Islamic landmarks by disallowing or delaying their practice among Muslim children until the latter become adults. It is assumed that it will be too late to start practicing such things at that time since they are not used to it. A sapling is easier to bend than a tree.

We call on the government of the State of Osun to ignore the rantings of Osun CAN. Aregbesola’s regime should not succumb to intimidation after satisfying all righteousness. Let the law take its due course.

We urge the Ministry of Education to ensure immediate and prompt compliance with the court’s directive. Hijab samples should be sent to all schools. The ministry should show the political will for implementation. Undue delay and disobedience of clear directives by school heads should be treated as insubordination and met with stiff punishment as contained in civil service rules.

We charge the Osun Police Command to do the rightful. The police has a duty to execute orders once the judiciary has made pronouncements. Anyone who incites citizens in the state to behave in a manner capable of causing public disorder should be made to face the wrath of the law. The court has made the type of garment approved by it abundantly clear. Anyone who causes minors to use unapproved garments should be dealt with according to the law.

Meanwhile, we urge Muslim parents and Islamic organizations in the State of Osun to remain proactive, calm and law abiding. We appeal to them to cooperate with the state government and the schools in ensuring that female Muslim students start using hijab made in the colour and design of their schools’ uniforms. Muslims must eschew all forms of lawlessness or the temptation to react to provocation from Osun CAN.

Finally, we call on all well-meaning citizens within and outside the State of Osun to call the state’s chapter of CAN back to the path of reason. In particular we appeal to both Mr. Femi Falana and Professor Wole Soyinka to speak out on the court’s judgement on hijab and CAN’s reaction in the same way that they intervened recently in the case of Ese Oruru of Bayelsa State. We are interested in seeing how objective the two respected social critics can be.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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Scrap JAMB, Not Post JAMB – MURIC

The Federal Government (FG) yesterday scrapped the conduct of post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) for candidates seeking admission into tertiary institutions.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) rejects the abolition of post-JAMB. It is reactionary, myopic and irritating. It is JAMB itself that should have been abolished.
 
Our position is based on the bitter experiences of Nigerian youths and their parents over the years. Post-JAMB examination was introduced after the general public and tertiary institutions lost faith in the national examination body.  There were allegations of bribery and corruption being rampant among staffers of JAMB who swapped candidates’ marks for the highest bidders.
 
There were also alleged cases of impersonation whereby parents who could afford it merely bought high scores for their children who never wrote any examination. Many brilliant candidates allegedly got low marks. Excellence was compromised on the altar of mediocrity. JAMB was ruining the future of Nigerian youths.
 
It was the poor performance of JAMB candidates who scored amazingly high marks but who could not justify their high scores in tertiary institutions that attracted hue and cry. They performed woefully after gaining entry into institutions and it was natural for the schools to do something about it since it was obvious that JAMB was dumping dullards in the universities and polytechnics all over the country.
 
It was an alarming situation. Many undergraduates could not write a single correct sentence. The quality of education in Nigeria was deteriorating. University graduates were performing woefully in job interviews and prospective employers had problems getting genuinely qualified graduates. The lion share of the blame for the fall in the quality of education in Nigeria today should go to JAMB.  
 
Post-JAMB examinations emerged as a corollary of this ugly situation. The universities and polytechnics needed to separate the wheat from the chaff.  
 
MURIC is not quite comfortable with government’s explanation that all tertiary institutions were at liberty to conduct screening for candidates seeking admission into any school because ordinary screening without written examinations cannot be effective enough. FG should also note that any type of screening at all must cost the institutions some money.
 
We call on FG to grant tertiary institutions some level of autonomy particularly in the area of admission requirements. FG should also stop JAMB from exposing the lives of teenage Nigerians to danger through its early morning examinations. It is most irrational for JAMB to slate its papers for 6.30 am in a country where insecurity is still a far cry.
 
Many JAMB candidates who went out to write the 6.30 am during the last exercise had ugly experiences. Many were forced to travel far distances and sleep overnight in strange and unsafe places. Two allegedly lost their lives as they were attacked by ritualists and armed robbers. One was allegedly raped by hoodlums. Another was kidnapped and the parents were made to cough out a huge amount of money. JAMB must put on a human face.
 
In conclusion, we submit that post-JAMB examination is part of the war against corruption. It is part of the change mantra. It has come to save Nigerian youths from the monster called JAMB. It is therefore JAMB that should be scrapped, not post-JAMB.
 
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
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MURIC Commends Nigerian Army, CJTF Over Rescue Of Two Chibok Girls

The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC has commended the Nigerian army and the Civilian Joint Task Force over the rescue of two Chibok girls Amina Ali and Sreha Lukas from the captivity of the Boko Hara, group.

The group in a statement by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, said the rescue of the girls shows that professionalism is now back in the army.

Akintola said the return of the girls shows that the 219 girls are still alive, adding further that the rescue of the two girls has exposed the hypocrisy of charlatans in corridors of power like ex-President Jonathan, his wife and Governor Ayodele Fayose who donned the toga of doubting Thomases over the abduction of the Chibok girls.

“The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) gives kudos to the Nigerian Army and the CJTF for making this rescue possible. We also congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari for witnessing the happy moment when a new lease of life is being given to Chibok girls.”

“The rescue of the Chibok girls has some implications. Firstly, it shows that the 219 Chibok girls are still alive. Secondly, it implies that professionalism is now back in the army. Thirdly, it means Boko Haram camp is falling apart. The days of Boko Haram are numbered. Their logistics are in shambles. They are surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned. Fourthly, it points at low hanging fruits of Buhari’s headlong confrontation of corruption in the military.”

“Furthermore, the rescue of the two Chibok girls has exposed the hypocrisy of charlatans in corridors of power like ex-President Jonathan, his wife and Governor Ayodele Fayose who donned the toga of doubting Thomases over the abduction of the Chibok girls. What will they say now? Are Amina Ali and Luka Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) from another planet?”

“A sixth implication can still be deduced from the rescue of the two girls. We can safely infer that more girls will be found in the days ahead. One of the two girls, Amina Ali, spoke of five other girls who tried to escape with them. They must be hanging out somewhere. Our troops should intensify the search and continue to push deep into Sambisa.”

“The testimony of Muhammed Hayatu, purported husband of one of the rescued girls, is quite instructive and may form a seventh implication in our postulate. He said hunger and poor health made him surrender. This means that the army’s strategic targeting of Boko Haram logistics, their fuel and food supplies is working.”

“An eighth inference can still be made. The rescued ‘husband’ claimed that he was not a member of Boko Haram ab initio but was captured by them and forcefully conscripted. This reveals a lot about the modus operandi of the insurgent group.”

“In retrospect, it is sad that we are witnessing piece-meal rescue today. Had it been early had been good. But it was delayed for too long by the former president who waited for 18 painful days before issuing orders for action. In comparison, 3 girls abducted this year from a Christian seminary in Lagos were rescued within 48 hours because the Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, personally joined in the search which started immediately after the abduction. Jonathan’s cold and lackadaisical attitude to the kidnap of the Chibok girls are responsible for the long delay, the pain and the suffering.”

“MURIC salutes Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram insurgents. They are the heroes of our time. But they must not relent. The war against insurgency must be pursued to a logical conclusion in order to serve as a deterrent to religious bigots, rebellious subjects and all enemies of peace.”

“We appeal to the Federal Government (FG) to properly and fully rehabilitate the girls. It is reassuring that President Buhari has declared that Amina Ali would go back to school. We suggest that FG should give scholarship to all rescued Chibok girls up to tertiary level.”

“We urge parents of the Chibok girls and the entire Chibok community to exercise patience. The issue of rescuing kidnapped persons is highly technical. It can boomerang if not properly handled. This rescue has shown light at the end of the tunnel. It has also proved that Nigeria has not forgotten the girls. You are not alone. We stand by you at these moments of grief. We share your pain.”

“Finally, we congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari for this great feat. There is no doubt that the rescues were made possible by the full support he gave the Nigerian military as well as his ‘no-nonsense’ mien. Mr. President has also won the hearts of Nigerians by opening the doors of Aso Rock to Amina Ali, the first rescued Chibok girl within 48 hours of her gaining freedom.”

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NLC Threat Of Showdown Over Deregulation: Dialogue Is Better – MURIC

The Federal Government (FG) yesterday announced the deregulation of the oil sector. The price of oil was raised from N85 per litre to N145 and below. A tornado of criticisms has greeted the new price and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has threatened a showdown with FG.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) calls on all stakeholders, particularly NLC, to do a critical analysis of the situation and adopt dialogue instead of open confrontation with the government on the issue.

We call attention to FG’s sober statement in which it described the decision to increase the price of petrol as ‘difficult and painful’. We regard such statement as emanating from a government which has feelings for the citizenry and considers itself as part of the masses.

There is an urgent need to recall the characteristics of good governance so far demonstrated by President Buhari’s administration. It has checked financial recklessness in the public sector. It has also imposed disciplinary measures on public officials.

Exempli gratia, some ministers are still squatting in Abuja because President Muhammadu Buhari refused to approve N200 million for each minister as done in past administrations. A ban has been placed on foreign medical treatment and travelling first class in aircrafts for public officials. Any government which takes these steps deserves the support of civil society and the ordinary citizens, not its antagonism. We should understand the difference between a financially prudent administration and a reckless and an overtly corrupt regime.

We therefore appeal to the NLC and the rest of civil society to adopt dialogue in the present circumstance. Civil society needs responsible leadership at this critical moment. It is true that we are the voice of the voiceless and defenders of the poor and downtrodden. But we are not just there to make noise arbitrarily. Good governance should be complemented with responsible and mature approach on the part of civil society.

Activists should not just make noise for the sake of making their presence felt. Neither should we dissipate energy unnecessarily. It is when we show understanding that we are being reasonable. It is irrational to go all out when government puts all the cards on the table for all to see. We are not enemies of the government. We are here to complement government’s efforts as partners in progress.

Civil society should therefore sit down to objectively appraise the situation. We should try to understand the raison d’etre for the removal of subsidy which includes the subsidy fraud phenomenon and the cabal behind it, the free fall in oil price, etc…

Although critics may argue that Nigerians should rise against the removal of oil subsidy because they resisted same during the Jonathan administration, we contend that the situation is now different and the same parameters cannot be applied. There was no fall in oil price when the ex-President removed oil subsidy. Nigeria was producing 2.4 million barrels of oil daily, selling at $93.61 per barrel, earning $224 million per day and $81 billion per annum.

The scenario has since changed for the worse and Buhari is now neck-deep in crisis management. As at 7th May 2016, Nigeria produced 2.7 million barrels per day and sold at $42.3 per barrel.

Whereas corruption was Nigeria’s middle name during the Jonathan era, the Buhari regime is globally certified as transparent and credible. We all should feel proud that both the Archbishop of Canterbury and Transparency International rose to Nigeria’s defence two days ago when David Cameron derogatorily referred to Nigeria as one of the two most corrupt nations of the world.

Only the tiny cabal would have benefitted from removal of subsidy under Jonathan. This informed the mass demonstrations at that time. But poor Nigerians stand to benefit if subsidy is removed under a transparent leader. That is why we do not need to agitate over the current increase. It is a difficult phase that will pass onto prosperity.

These are the yardsticks which objective critics and members of the civil society should be looking at. Not sentiments, not gallery dancing, not grandstanding. We should not play into the hands of corrupt politicians whose executive agent provocateur cum enfant terrible has already started inciting the NLC against FG.

Finally, we charge FG to set the machinery in motion for dialogue with NLC. We appeal to civil society, the press and all Nigerians to continue to support the central government in its quest to make life more meaningful to all.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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Fulani Herdsmen Imbroglio: Need For Caution – MURIC

The Nigerian community is currently facing an ethnic controversy as Fulani herdsmen are being accused of attacking their fellow Nigerians on their farmlands. The complaints have spread from the plains of Plateau State to Benue in the North and from Ondo in the South West to Enugu in the South East.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly condemns the alleged killings. In line with our avowed motto, ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’, we denounce all acts of violence, all actions capable of disturbing the peace and all statements calculated to cause public disorder.

We remind the Federal Government (FG) that security of lives and properties of all Nigerians is its inalienable responsibility. Article 14 Section 2(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.

According to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 4, Clause 1 & 2, “Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.” As a signatory to the African Charter, the FG should take urgent steps to protect lives and properties and also bring perpetrators of crimes to book.

Nonetheless, MURIC still calls on all stakeholders to exercise restraint as nothing has so far been proved against anybody. We must allow the security agencies to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion. All allegations at this point remain assumptions. Article 7(b) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights stipulates the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court or tribunal.

We call on Nigerians to consider the huge pressure on the corporate existence of the country as manifested in the Nigeria-Biafra war of 1967 to 1971, the June 12 saga from 1993 to 1999, the numerous religious crisis experienced in the country, the Niger Delta militancy over resource control which is still ongoing, the Boko Haram insurgency which is just about dying out and the reincarnation of Biafra in form of renewed agitations from the Eastern region.

All the above took heavy tolls on the Nigerian nation in terms of human lives and collateral damage and it has been a miracle that Nigeria has survived all. A new crisis under the guise of attacks by Fulani herdsmen poses a very serious threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria and no one can predict its outcome.

It is noteworthy that there are backlashes already. Seven youths of Northern extinction who engaged in tricycle business in Ugwuaji, Enugu South Local Government were allegedly killed and secretly buried in January this year. There are calls by ethnic groups and individuals from the South East and the South West for Northerners to leave the region.

MURIC considers these calls as premature, unjustifiable and untenable. The calls for certain ethnic groups to leave particular regions are tainted with ethnic jingoism. They are as parochial as they are myopic.

Our position is based on facts emerging from police investigations into alleged Fulani killings and attacks. For example, the Elogba and the Egba in Benue State clash which claimed 60 lives was blamed on Fulani herdsmen. The kidnappers of Chief Olu Falae who were citizens of Niger State were led by one Baba Olu, a Yoruba man, but Fulani herdsmen were blamed for it.

It is didactic that the police have absolved Fulani herdsmen from blame over the killings in Nimbo community of Enugu State. Equally instructive is the fact that the Inspector General of Police has issued a similar statement. We advise Nigerians to stop calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

It is sad that pictures of herdsmen in Sudan, Mali, Niger and Chad brandishing AK 47 rifles are taken from the internet and displayed to gullible Nigerians as Fulanis on Nigerian soil. This is quite misleading, highly mischievous and grossly provocative. It is incitement on a large scale. The Nigerian press is advised to desist from playing to the gallery.   

We appeal to Nigerians to separate individuals with criminal propensity from their tribes and religions. Every Nigerian tribe has its own criminals, lay-abouts, never-do-wells, busy-bodies and area boys. Yet every Nigerian ethnic group has its men and women of honour, men and women of timber and caliber, including Fulanis and Igbos in particular.

We therefore call for objective appraisal of incidents and caution against generalization, sensationalisation, stigmatization of Fulani herdsmen and the profiling of Northerners or their religion. It is a time bomb waiting to explode and none can visualize its reach or its victims.

We must not allow people who nurse anti-Fulani and anti-North agenda to blow this country apart. Neither should we allow politics of resentment and unsubstantiated minority claims of marginalisation to becloud our sense of critical analysis at this point in time. We have all the law we need to punish the individual Fulani, Igbo or Yoruba if he commits any crime. But we have no moral right to target a whole ethnic group for annihilation.

In conclusion, MURIC calls on all Nigerians to allow one love to keep us together. Let us think Nigeria and stop thinking of ethnicities. Let us rise as one to punish individual criminals and not their tribes.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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Jonathan Not Finished With Nigeria? An Expensive Joke – MURIC

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was recently quoted as saying that he had not yet finished with Nigeria.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) takes this statement with a pinch of salt. It is an expensive joke. Coming at a time when Nigeria faces fuel shortages and poor electricity output, the former president must have read the signs upside down.

Jonathan’s latest remark is pregnant with meanings. It exposes the cunning subterfuge behind the reluctant handover of power on May 29, 2015. That handover was never meant to be and the ex-president had meticulously laid landmines on all paths that led to Aso Rock.

A vivid example is the twilight appointments and sacks ordered by Jonathan on the eve of his exit from office. He was deliberately packing the civil service with his own loyalists in order to make things difficult for the incoming administration. Jonathan at the time was not thinking or building Nigeria. He was destroying his fatherland.

Another glaring instance is the refusal of the Jonathan administration to pay oil marketers thereby amassing debts for the incoming Buhari regime. Nigerians will recall that oil marketers refused to lift oil by the middle of May 2015. There were long queues at filling stations all over the country and a liter of petrol sold for as high as N300. It was a well-rehearsed maneuver to scuttle the incoming administration and a cruel parting gift.

This explains the recent fuel crisis and Jonathan’s statement which coincided with the fuel shortage was a coded message. But the wind has blown and we have seen the ruff of the hen. Nigerians are not fools. They remember ‘the evil that men do’.

Jonathan’s party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) supervised the destruction of the Nigerian economy for sixteen years. They turned Nigeria into an orange, squeezed out all the juice and left nothing but the peel for the Buhari regime. That is why we are where we are today.

However, the new regime is picking the seeds and replanting them. Seeds do not grow into trees overnight. That is why Nigerians need to be patient with the Buhari administration. We just cannot afford to go back to those who wasted this generation. There is very little choice in rotten apples.

We disagree with those who ask President Muhammadu Buhari to abandon the war against corruption. We believe that this is a war that must be fought to a logical conclusion if we must save coming generation from ruination. The fight against corruption is a priority and it must be steadily prosecuted because corruption is at the root of all challenges facing Nigeria today.

What is killing the power sector? Why can’t Nigeria fix its roads? What is responsible for falling standards in education? Why have our hospitals turned into public mortuaries? Why are Nigeria’s gallant security agents unable to nip crime in the bud? Why are Nigerian judges compromising on matters of principle? Why can’t the average Nigerian get three square meals per day?

It is all due to the cancer called corruption. Cancer destroys anything it touches. It also spreads fast and only a good surgeon will remove a cancerous tumor to save the rest of the body. Nigeria is bedridden with the cancer of corruption. Let the surgery operation continue otherwise total collapse of the anatomy will follow.

That is why we cannot consider the possibility of Jonathan’s return to mainstream Nigerian politics. This is a man under whom massive plundering of Nigeria’s economy took place and he did not bat an eyelid. What did Jonathan do despite loud outcries against former aviation minister’s scandalous purchase of bullet proof cars? What did he do about the fatal immigration recruitment exercise?

Jonathan’s reaction to the monumental kleptomania during his administration was to institutionalize corruption. He dined with drug barons, hobnobbed with ex-convicts and dashed out our national honours to bail-jumpers on a platter of gold.

He said stealing was not corruption. He followed up this preposterous statement by describing public officials as goats and the tax payers’ money as yam! He reportedly said “You cannot stop a goat from eating yam”. So the ‘impossible’ task of keeping a goat away from eating yam became Jonathan’s parable of corruption. Jonathan is an interesting study for political scientists.

It is just two days to the anniversary of the abduction of more than 200 Chibok girls. Those girls would have been found had Jonathan reacted early enough. The whole Northern Nigeria would have been history had Jonathan won a second term going by his lackadaisical attitude to the war on insurgency. Allowing $2.1 billion arms money to be frittered away during his administration is culpable treason.

How then can Jonathan be thinking of coming back for an unfinished business? Nigerians are chanting ‘Bring back our girls’! Jonathan and PDP are singing ‘Bring Back Corruption’! It is unacceptable. We reject any attempt to bring back corruption. We denounce Jonathan’s glorification of stealing and his trivialisation of kleptomania.

What is Jonathan coming back for? What did he do with Nigeria’s money when Nigeria was producing 2.4 million barrels per day and selling at $93.61 per barrel. He was making $224 million per day, $81billion per annum (a whopping N12.8 trillion naira)). What did he do with that money? Where is Niger Bridge? Where are Ore-Benin and Lagos-Ibadan Expressways? How much of all that money did he save? So come back for what?

Let no one be under any illusion that corrupt public officials should be treated with kid gloves just to please saboteurs and bourgeoisie cabals. Islamic liberation theology rejects economic oppression. We will rather be free men in our graves than live as puppets and slaves. The fact remains that greedy people will never willingly let go one kobo from their massive loots unless ‘by fire by thunder’. Neither will there be any genuine moral reformation in this country unless thieves who plundered our common wealth are made scapegoats.

Nigeria’s current setbacks are temporary. It is corruption fighting back. Bad times do not last but strong men do. How do you shoot an arrow from a bow? Is it not by bending the bow backwards? We are simply bending back our bow to shoot the arrow. Nigeria is not finished. We are not finished except with looters and clueless leaders.

Not finished with Nigeria? We advise Jonathan to perish the dream. In what capacity is he coming back? To pick the annual million naira cutleries he forgot in Aso Rock or to finish the job of rocking the Rock? Not finished with Nigeria? This must be a joke and an expensive one at that. The truth is that if Jonathan thinks he has not finished with Nigeria, Nigeria is finished with Jonathan.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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Saraki: Senate Integrity At Stake – MURIC

The trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, began at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) two days ago (Tuesday 5th April, 2016). Since then, shocking revelations have been made at the proceedings. But the last nail in the coffin is the implication of Saraki in the recent Panama papers where the Senate President allegedly has hidden assets in safe havens abroad.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is constrained to call the attention of honourable members of the Nigerian Senate to the serious and damning implication of this ugly development. The integrity of Senate is at stake here and something needs to be done and very urgently too.

It is on record that more than sixty senators accompanied Dr. Bukola Saraki to the CCT on his first day of appearance. The picture has been largely the same during other appearances. The business of Senate was grinded to a halt on each occasion with the attendant waste of tax-payers’ money.

While we salute senators for this manifestation of camaraderie, several attempts by the embattled senate president to resist trial suggest that he probably has skeletons in his cupboard. The recent revelations during court proceedings where staggering amounts of money were alleged to have been surreptitiously deposited in bank accounts or siphoned outside this country by the Senate President through his agents also call for caution, concern and sober reflection.

The fact that huge sums were reportedly split into smaller amounts and paid fifty (50) times into the same bank account on a single day is quite worrisome. Somebody somewhere knew that the source of the money he intended to deposit in a bank account was illegal. Somebody somewhere wanted to avoid detection. Somebody somewhere knew that he could be detected if the whole amount was paid in bulk and at a go. Somebody somewhere has been a smart Alec.

Can honourable members of Senate beat their chests and tell Nigerians that this somebody somewhere is not occupying the highest seat in the hallowed chamber? Is this not desecration of the highest office in Senate? We know that there are honest men and women in Senate. We know there are people of integrity who occupy well-deserved seats in our Senate today. Are our senators waiting until Nigerians start judging all senators by the same parameter?  Are our Senators tarrying until Nigerians start invoking popular proverbs like “Birds of the same feather…?”

MURIC therefore calls on Senate to do the needful. The Nigerian public is disenchanted with a legislature that cannot satisfy all righteousness. A legislative arm which condones stinking corruption at the leadership level can never be in tandem with Nigeria’s new elixir for anti-corruption.

Saraki must go. Those who come to equity must come with clean hands. We cannot afford to have an icon of credibility at the Nigerian apex of the executive only to have the exact opposite in the higher chamber. Perhaps that is why very little progress has been made since May 29, 2015. Saraki is a Trojan horse.

The Nigerian masses will know their true friends in Senate in the next few days. They will know those who are ready to sanitise the system and those who are in Senate to pursue the wicked agenda of the super rich against extremely poor Nigerians. The practice whereby ‘monkey dey work, barboon dey chop’ must stop.

Workers’ salary cannot take them home even on the day they receive it. Some states are yet to pay the N18,000 minimum wage. Some states also owe as much as three months salary arrears. Our graduates of ten years ago are still roaming the streets. There is hunger and starvation in the land. The average Nigerian lives on less than one dollar ($1) per day. Ourper capita income is less than $300. More than 70 million Nigerians are poor.

How then can the masses stomach reports of a single person depositing between N600,000 and N900,000 fifty times in a single day? This wide gap between the rich and the poor is nothing short of social economic injustice. It is responsible for the rise in violent crime, particularly armed robbery. Robbers see no difference between robbing with the pen and stealing with the gun. It kills workers’ morale and frustrates the few honest people we still have around. Students use this same socio-economic disequilibrium as an alibi for jettisoning academic pursuit. The youths use it as justification for going into Yahoo-Yahoo and other fraudulent activities.

MURIC therefore calls on senators to save Nigeria from the impending doom. Our senators must prove to Nigerians that no single person is greater than Nigeria. It is time for pendulum swing. Distinguished Senators, are you going to be loyal to a particular person or to Nigeria?

As a concluding remark, countries like Switzerland and the United States with questionable latitudes in their banking laws which allow kleptomaniacs from Africa to hide their loots must own up, stop the eye service and take urgent steps towards transparency, probity and accountability. Those who make it easy for thieves to hide their loot (and also benefit their economy from the proceeds of looting) live with a moral burden.

 

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
08033464974

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Buhari’s Apology For Dissolving Governing Councils: A Strong Trait Of Democracy  – MURIC

President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) last week apologized for dissolving the governing councils of some universities. The dissolution which occurred about two months ago was criticized by many on the basis of illegality as the tenure of some of the councils had not expired.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) lauds PMB’s decision to eat the humble pie. It is a strong indication that the new administration is determined to tow the path of democracy.

This apology is quite significant as cynics had insisted during the 2015 presidential campaign that PMB planned to return with the same military dictatorship that he was known when he served as military head of state between 1983 and 1985. PMB has proved critics wrong with this apology.

MURIC urges all government officials at Federal, state and local government levels to emulate this democratic feature in PMB’s administration. Impunity and arrogance in matters of public concern ignite tension among citizens and stoke the fires of rebellion whereas humility and transparency repose confidence in government and encourage the people to support government’s policies.

The Glorious Qur’an warns against insolence, “Swell not thy cheek at the people. Nor walk arrogantly on earth; for Allah does not love the arrogant boaster. Be moderate in your pace, lower your voice; for certainly the harshest sound is the braying of the ass” (Qur’an 31:18 – 19)

This advocacy for humility in office can benefit Nigerians from all walks of life: from directors of agencies to school administrators; from directors in ministries to heads of departments; from large scale entrepreneurs to small scale company directors; from the ordinary class teacher to the university lecturer and from the artisan to the husband at home.

We must all learn to be humble. We must know when to say ‘sorry’. Humility in the leadership is an essential ingredient for smooth administration, industrial harmony and higher productivity.

 

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
08033464974

 

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