Thursday, May 19, 2016

RESCUE OF 2 CHIBOK GIRLS: MURIC COMMENDS NIGERIAN ARMY



20th May, 2016,
PRESS RELEASE:
RESCUE OF 2 CHIBOK GIRLS:
MURIC COMMENDS NIGERIAN ARMY   

Two girls, Amina Ali and Serah Luka, who were abducted on 14th April 2014 from their school hostel in Chibok have been rescued by the Nigerian Army in collaboration with the Civillian Joint Task Force (CJTF).

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.  


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

Thursday, May 12, 2016

NLC THREAT OF SHOWDOWN OVER DEREGULATION: DIALOGUE IS BETTER



12th May, 2016,
PRESS RELEASE:
NLC THREAT OF SHOWDOWN OVER DEREGULATION: DIALOGUE IS BETTER   

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)



Tuesday, May 10, 2016

CORRUPTION COMMENT: CAMERON RIGHT BUT INVOLVED




11th May, 2016,
PRESS RELEASE:
CORRUPTION COMMENT: CAMERON RIGHT BUT INVOLVED  

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron declared yesterday that Nigeria and Afghanistan are the worst corrupt countries of the world. In a swift reaction, however, the Nigerian Presidency described Cameron’s statement as ‘embarrassing’. It argued that the British Prime Minister had failed to take into consideration Nigeria’s current anti-corruption campaign.

Although the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) agrees with David Cameron’s rating of Nigeria on corruption, we posit that the comment is belated, misleading and hypocritical.

It is belated because it does not reflect the true picture on ground today, particularly in Nigeria’s corridor of power as well as its civil service. Things have changed. It is misleading because his comment is capable of being misinterpreted as representing the general opinion of the British people but Archbishop Justin Welby’s interjection put paid to that. It is hypocritical because Western countries, Britain inclusive, which open the doors of their financial institutions for looters from other countries are to blame for the persistence of corruption in developing countries.

It must be noted that Archbishop Welby’s endorsement of President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade and his testimony to the latter’s credibility is a trillion-dollar feather in the Presidency’s hat.   

Cameron’s remark is belated because it failed to take cognizance of three landmark policies presently making change possible in Nigeria. Firstly, the introduction and implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has blocked many leakages and has succeeded, within one year of its introduction, in netting more than N3 trillion for the Federal Government (FG).

Secondly, FG forbade public officials from travelling first class on aircrafts at government’s expense. Thirdly, foreign medical treatment for government officials has been put on hold. These were the conduit pipes used to siphon public funds in the past.          

Had Cameron made his remarks 365 days ago he would have hit the mark. His corruption comment of yesterday should have come in the days of financial recklessness which was championed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. The latter shocked Nigerians when he declared that stealing was not corruption and looked the other way as his ministers and aides looted the treasury silly.

Britain should not be pointing at the speck in Nigeria’s eyes. Rather, it should do something about the log in its own eyes and very quickly too. Why does Britain allow looters from Nigeria to keep stolen money in British banks? Why does Britain make it extremely difficult for funds stolen from Nigeria to be repatriated even after indubitable evidence has been provided? Britain is therefore an accomplice in this corruption saga.

Can Cameron tell the world that his country has not been benefitting from the stolen funds? What does British law say about a person who receives stolen property? Or is it in British character to aid and abet stealing? These posers are not for Britain alone. Countries like Switzerland and the United States of America have a moral burden on their conscience. A Yoruba proverb says the man who steals things kept in the ceiling is not the real thief, the big thief is the one who stayed on the ground to receive the stolen goods.

The same questions should be answered by the World Bank and the United Nations Organization. The West is sitting on Nigeria’s wealth. The World Bank and the UN are using ‘natural selection’ and looking the other way as these powerful but selfish countries strangulate poor nations. The Darwinian theory of the survival of the fittest remains pertinent here because it is clear that the UN has failed to enforce global financial morality.

As a concluding remark, MURIC calls on Britain to seize the opportunity of hosting the World Summit on Corruption to clear itself of the charge of being an international accomplice of looters. This can be done by declaring a short deadline for the release of all stolen funds presently domiciled in Britain back to their original countries.           

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