Friday, August 15, 2014

SACK OF RESIDENT DOCTORS: MURIC APPEALS TO FG TO REVISIT ACTION


15th August, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
SACK OF RESIDENT DOCTORS:
MURIC APPEALS TO FG TO REVISIT ACTION

Nigerian resident doctors who have been on strike since July 1, 2014 were sacked on Wednesday 13th August, 2014 by the Federal Government (FG). According to government sources, the strike has compounded the health crisis in the country. The FG argued that the striking doctors had rejected all moves to end the strike.  The sack affected about 16,000 resident doctors.

It is not too difficult for the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) to understand where members of the Nigerian Medical Council (NMA) are coming from. With the deteriorating health situation in the country coupled with the presence of archaic health facilities in the public health sector, NMA as a union is seeking improvement in health delivery.

It is on record that NMA leadership raised the alarm last year concerning the implications of manpower flight. The body complained that out of the total number of registered doctors which stood at 65,000 in 2013, only 25,000 are practicing in Nigeria and this is the number that attends to 170 million Nigerians. 40,000 qualified and registered Nigerian medical doctors are practicing outside Nigeria.

We regard this development as pathetic, unfortunate and appalling. MURIC is of the opinion that those who chose to stay behind for love of their country deserve better treatment.

MURIC is disturbed by FG’s poor response to the allocation to and provision of sufficient funds for the health sector. Whereas the 2001 Abuja Declaration stipulates that 15% of every African country’s budget should be devoted to the health sector, FG allocated a paltry 4% to the sector in 2011, 5% in 2012, 6.04% in 2013 and even reduced the allocation to the sector in 2014. The N262.74 billion budget for the health sector in 2014 represents a 6.7 percent decrease against the 2013 allocation of N273billion.

The result is quite glaring in terms of health challenges in Nigeria. Whereas by 2013 life span in Japan was 82.6 years and in America it is 78 years, it is still 48 years in Nigeria.

The scenario sends the red signal when one considers the poor data in the health sector. For instance, 30 million Nigerians are hypertensive. 4 million suffer from diabetes. Pneumonia kills 130,000 Nigerians yearly. Malaria kills 4,500 pregnant women yearly in Nigeria alone. 400,000 Nigerians are infected by tuberculosis while 32 million Nigerians have river blindness.

The maternal mortality ratio is bad enough to shoot up the adrenalin. Whereas the MDG sets a ratio of 75 deaths only per every 100,000 pregnant women, Nigeria’s ratio is 948 per 100,000. 

As a result, 52,000 Nigerian women die annually from maternal mortality. Why should 145 women die during childbirth on a daily basis in Nigeria alone when only 6 out of 100,000 die annually in Canada and an average of 9 in every 100,000 yearly in the United States?

Nigerian children are the worst victims of our poor health delivery system. Malaria kills 300,000 Nigerian children annually. As if that is not enough for our children, Nigeria’s figure is the highest among the 3.5 million world children who die annually from diarrhea and other infections.

Whereas the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) aspires to 30 per 1000 live births or 64 per every 1,000 by the year 2015, Nigeria’s rate is 115 per 1,000. Under-5 mortality is worse as it stands at 210 per 1,000.

MURIC therefore advises FG to revisit its decision to sack 16,000 resident doctors. If we sack 16,000 doctors, it leaves only 9,000 doctors to attend to 170 million Nigerians. It is paradoxical coming at a time when the nation faces the Ebola saga.

The decision to sack is therefore rash, reckless and ill-advised. The international community must be laughing its head off by now. We therefore appeal to FG to recall the doctors for the survival of 170 million Nigerians.

Flexing muscles will not solve the problem at a time like this. One does not cut off his head because of headache. What next after the sack? Is FG going to import doctors from the US or from Canada? Those ones will not want to risk their lives by coming to Nigeria when ebola is ravaging the population.

Can we think of getting doctors from Liberia or Sierra Leone?  This sack will not only complicate matters, it will also endanger the lives of millions of Nigerians.

Yet NMA must not abdicate its responsibility to lead the nation at this critical stage when we are all faced with the threat of annihilation a la Ebola. The medical profession belongs to the humanitarian arena. NMA should have been more responsive particularly with the outbreak of Ebola.

How can it be reasonable for firefighters to go on strike when whole cities are on fire? MURIC appeals to the NMA leadership to exhibit greater sense of sacrifice and patriotism. It should therefore call off the strike as soon as the FG recalls the sacked doctors. The agitation can start afresh when the Ebola emergency is lifted.

Finally, MURIC urges all Nigerian ex-heads of State, the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Union (NLC) and all other stakeholders to intervene in this crucial matter and save our country from imminent self-destruction. Both sides appear to have taken extreme measures in the conflict and compromise must emerge from either side in the interest of the common man.

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



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

AREGBESOLA'S VICTORY PREGNANT WITH LESSONS


12th August, 2014

PRESS RELEASE:

OSHUN 2014: AREGBESOLA’S VICTORY IS PREGNANT WITH LESSONS

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, winner of the Osun 2014 gubernatorial election held on Saturday, 9th August, 2014, having scored 394,684 votes. He defeated his main opponent, Senator Iyiola Omisore of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who polled 292, 747 votes. With this official outcome, Aregbesola has won a second term in office as governor of the State of Osun. Ceteris paribus, Aregbesola will rule the state for the next four years (2014 – 2018).    

 

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) congratulates Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for this resounding victory. He has exhibited high level of faith in the Supreme Creator and, like Daud (David, peace be upon him) in front of Jalut (Goliath), he manifested unusual bravery in the face of state-sponsored political terrorism. We salute INEC for its meticulousness, impartiality and high level professionalism. We also felicitate with the good people of Osun who stood resolutely by the side of truth even in the face of invasion a la Mussolini.

 

Ogbeni’s victory is pregnant with lessons. There are lessons here for Nigerian politicians, for the Nigerian citizens, for the press, for the practitioners of social media, for the adherents of Christianity and Islam, for the security agents and for the victims of fascism.  

 

The outcome of this election has shown Nigerian politicians that one good term deserves another. Ogbeni’s 20,000 jobs within his first 100 days, free lunch and free uniforms for school children, N10,000 monthly for senior citizens in the state, his new school buildings, his macadam roads, his O’Yes programmes, etc were too much to be ignored.

 

These achievements opened the eyes of the Osun electorate. It raised their political awareness. They could separate the wheat from the chaff, the down-to-earth politician from the hypocrites and parasites, the grassroot politicians from the political shenanigans and the men-of-the-people from the capitalist comprador bourgeoisie.

 

For the citizens of Osun, Ogbeni’s victory has vindicated their resolve. They have learnt that it is better to be dead men and women in the graveyard than living like puppets and slaves. Whereas the flooding of the state was designed to cow them, they refused to be intimidated. If the Gestapo’s tactics of coercion had succeeded, thousands of Ogbeni’s supporters would have preferred to stay indoors on election day for fear of being assaulted, arrested or killed while the supporters of Ogbeni’s main opponent would have flooded the polling booths to clinch undeserved victory.

 

MURIC therefore gives kudos to the people of Osun, not only did they troop out in large numbers to cast their votes for their beloved candidate, they waited after voting to protect their votes and they refused to leave until after the votes had been counted. They are the true heroes and heroines of Nigeria’s democracy.

 

In spite of the hostile attitude of some enemies of democracy towards journalists as exemplified by the brutalization of two journalists of Television Continental (TVC), members of the press continued to do their duties until truth prevailed. The lesson for social media practitioners can be seen in their role as the invisible bulwark against election rigging. Election results tweeted and posted on Facebook dwarfed Jalut (Goliath) and rendered any attempt to alter figures ridiculous and infantile. The role of social media in Osun 2014, facilitated by developments in information technology, tends to prove that the days of election rigging are over in Nigeria.

 

In the same vein, the victims of totalitarian dictatorship must accept their ordeal as the price they had to pay for democracy, for free speech and for the liberty of the Nigerian person. They must see Aregbesola’s victory as the triumph of powerless conscience over conscienceless power.

 

For the apostles of primordial religious sentiment who always advocate for the retention of political office for either a Christian or Muslim candidate, Ogbeni’s victory is a monumental lesson. Abdul Rauf Aregbesola has never hidden his identity as a committed Muslim but he has accorded due recognition to Christianity and traditional religion. As a Muslim leader, he has shown Nigerians that it is not the leader’s religion that matters, it is the values which he pursues in office.

 

Therefore Nigerians must no longer allow themselves to be misled by those who canvass for candidates or those who campaign against them on the basis of religion. MURIC advises Nigerians to either cast their votes for patriotic, altruistic and Christ-like Christians or knowledgeable and practicing Muslims.  

 

Finally, MURIC rejects President Jonathan’s excuse for flooding the State of Osun with security agents simply because of the need to maintain law and order. We assert that this excuse is an afterthought. We cannot accept the Commander-in-Chief’s explanation because he has failed to explain why some of the soldiers wore masks. From all indications, Osun 2014 was designed to be a fait accompli.

 

Neither has the president commented on the massive arrest of members of the opposition on the eve of election, particularly the spokesman of the APC, Alhaji Lai Muhammed. That is a crime against democracy. It is an assault on the liberty-loving people of Osun. It is an attempted civilian coup. The president is offering the excuse now because the coup apparently failed woefully. It should never be repeated again.

 

Another reason for rejecting President Jonathan’s explanation is that, except to the mischievous, the undiscerning and the blind, Mr. President comes across as reactionary and undemocratic in disposition.
 
Two out of many examples will suffice for now: his recognition of Governor Jonah Jang who scored 16 votes against 19 scored by Governor Rotimi Amechi in the Governors’ Forum election about one year ago. Secondly, whereas Muslim leaders met President Jonathan to complain about the lopsidedness in the composition of the National Conference whose membership tilted strongly towards Christians and he promised to review the situation, Mr. President has failed to keep the promise of review to this day.

 

We assert that true democrats respect numerical superiority. Neither do they change the simple principles of mathematics. Leaders who walk their talk earn respect, others demand it. Nigerians must therefore replicate the Osun model as we approach 2015. What we need is not religion. It is a God-fearing man from any religion. What we need is good governance.

 

Professor Ishaq Akintola,

Director,

Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

JOIN MURIC TODAY!


Salaam All, sequel to several requests from Muslim brothers and sisters expressing their desire to join MURIC, we hereby reveal to you that all Muslims have the right to be members. To enjoy this right and become a full member, please go to:

groups.yahoo.com/groups/muslimrights/join.

Click on join and follow the instructions.

Caveat: this message is for Muslims only. It is fraudulent to claim to be one if you are not really a Muslim.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

ARREST OF LAI MUHAMMAD & POLLING AGENTS DESIGNED TO FAVOUR THE OPPOSITION


9th August, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
ARREST OF LAI MUHAMMAD & POLLING AGENTS DESIGNED TO FAVOUR THE OPPOSITION

The spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Muhammed was yesterday arrested by security agents. There are also allegations of arrest of polling agents in some parts of Osun State where the gubernatorial election took off today.

Although Alhaji Lai Muhammad has been released, we of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) are worried by his arrest. We wonder what offence he has committed to warrant being arrested on the eve of a gubernatorial election. His arrest was in bad taste.

It is not good for democracy. The Federal Government (FG) is yet to cultivate the culture of sportsmanship in politics. Arrest of the opposition, particularly on the eve of an election is reactionary, conservative and undemocratic.

It is not too difficult for Nigerians to guess the motive for his arrest. It was designed to destabilize and demobilize him while the ruling party at the center has a field day. The arrest was also meant to gag the opposition because Lai Muhammad is the spokesperson of the APC. He is known to be articulate and fearless. Is FG trying to prevent this man from doing his job particularly in these crucial moments? What is FG trying to hide?

Whatever happens, the onus is on the security agents to explain the casus belli for his arrest to Nigerians and save the citizens the guess work. This is what they owe tax payers.

The rumour making the rounds about the arrest of polling agents is an ill wind that will blow nobody any good. It had better not be. MURIC warns that Osun 2014 is a test tube. It has all the ingredients of a crystal ball for forecasting the conduct of 2015 general elections. To be or not to be, that is the question.

We therefore call on the FG to caution its security agents. Overzealousness on the part of those who should maintain law and order will earn FG a bad name. The attitude of the security agents posted to Osun State for this election leaves more questions than answers. For instance, why is it that only members of one party, particularly APC, are being placed under arrest? Why are some soldiers wearing masks?

We are not impressed by the silence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the issue of hooded soldiers and arrest of key opposition leaders. INEC is the only referee on the election pitch. It should not close its eyes to rough tackles from either side. There are rules of engagement in elections. No political party should enjoy the patronage of the security agents at the expense of others. INEC has a duty to call offenders to order. It should not wait for litigation at the courts.

Finally, we remind the FG that the world is watching the conduct of this election. Winning the election after committing acts of impunity will rob the ‘winner’ of integrity, create bad blood in the state and deprive the citizens of Osun of the dividends of democracy.

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

Friday, August 8, 2014

HOODED SOLDIERS & BRUTALISATION OF TVC JOURNALISTS: DANGER SIGNALS IN OSUN 2014


8th August, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
HOODED SOLDIERS & BRUTALISATION OF TVC JOURNALISTS: DANGER SIGNALS IN OSUN 2014

Soldiers wearing masks were allegedly spotted among the soldiers deployed to the State of Osun for tomorrow’s gubernatorial election. In another development, two journalists of the Television Continental (TVC), Ayodeji Moradeyo, a reporter and Binafia Miebi, a cameraman, were reportedly brutalised by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) loyalists at the secretariat of the PDP in Osogbo because they were at the PDP office on fact-finding mission.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is appalled by the allegation that soldiers appear in hoods in Osun State at a time when the state is soaked in election tension. Soldiers in hoods can be anybody: fake security officials, political thugs, Boko Haram insurgents or Niger Delta militants. Anything is possible.

Equally worrisome is the alleged assault on TVC journalists. Whereas politicians in developed countries regard members of the press as partners and an integral part of electioneering, Nigerian politicians are turning journalists into punching bags.

MURIC strongly denounces these two developments. They constitute potent threats to a free and fair election. Hooded soldiers are serious sources of worry. They create fear and engender suspicion about the intention of the Federal Government. Attacks on pressmen during an election symptomise a lack of readiness to embrace transparency. With these developments, fears are being raised that the ground for a severely doctored gubernatorial election skewed in favour of the controllers of the security agencies is already well laid.

We therefore call on the Chief of Army Staff to explain to Nigerians if the hood is part of a soldier’s kit. We charge security agents and politicians in Osun State to give free access to journalists during the election.

We alert the Acting Inspector General of Police, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), election observers and the international community to these dangerous signposts. The world must know who to blame if there are hitches in the Osun gubernatorial election taking place tomorrow.

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




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

ARREST OF OPPOSITION LEADERS IN OSUN: FG IS ALREADY COERCING THE OPPOSITION


6th August, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
ARREST OF OPPOSITION LEADERS IN OSUN:
FG IS ALREADY COERCING THE OPPOSITION

Barely four days to the governorship election in the State of Osun, the all Progressive Congress (APC) has reported that one of its leaders, Hon. Yemi Oke in Obokun Local Government has been arrested and detained by security agents described as “Special Forces” who came from Abuja. Hon. Yemi Oke was allegedly arrested around 2.30 am on Monday 4th August, 2014 at his home in Oshogbo.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is alarmed by this ugly development. It will amount to political naivety to claim ignorance of the likely motive behind clampdown on the opposition a few days to an election.

Whereas President Jonathan declared a few days ago that the days of election rigging are gone while the Minister of State for Defence claimed yesterday that the deployment of security operatives to Osun was “to prevent the breakdown of law and order”, the arrest of Hon. Yemi Oke indicates that the Federal Government is not ready to walk its talk.

Arrest of leaders or members of the opposition is most likely to create tension, drive them underground and militarise them. This was the precursor of the famous ‘operation wet-e’ which turned the South West to the Wild, Wild West of the 60s.

MURIC calls the attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), election observers and the international community to the gameplan of the Federal Government. Can anyone match FG’s declarations with its actions? When did election turn into war that soldiers in full battle gear must breathe down the necks of the electorate?

We assert that a free and fair election is totally impossible in an atmosphere of tension and fear. Democracy is all about free choice but choice cannot be free in a fully militarized zone. The militarization of Osun becomes provocative when members and leaders of opposition are detained on phantom charges. It becomes too suspicious when those arrested are held incommunicado until after the election. FG must therefore be held responsible if there is any breakdown of law and order.

MURIC demands immediate release of Hon. Yemi Oke and any other opposition leader or member who may have been arrested in the past 48 hours. We affirm that there can only be one interpretation for arresting people in the opposition camp between now and election day (Saturday 9th August, 2014). It is nothing short of electoral tyranny with the aim of turning ‘election’ to ‘selection’.

Finally, we call on the new Acting Inspector General of Police and the Minister of State for Defence to create a level playing ground for all the political parties. The arrest of members of the opposition must also stop.

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

Monday, August 4, 2014

OSUN 2014: DON’T ARREST OPPOSITION LEADERS


4th August, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
OSUN 2014: DON’T ARREST OPPOSITION LEADERS

The State of Osun will hold its gubernatorial election on Saturday, 9th August, 2014. Already, there are claims of massive deployment of security agents to the state. About 900 agents of the Department of State Security (SSS) were allegedly moved to the state last week alone. During his visit to the state three days ago, President Jonathan also reportedly promised to flood the state with policemen.      

If past experiences are anything to go by, civil society and the general populace must take this development with a pinch of salt. It is an open secret that the ruling parties in the 60s used security agents to intimidate the opposition.

Many opposition leaders were arrested and detained about 48 hours to the election to pave way for massive rigging. Those detained were not released until several days after the doctored results which were in favour of the unpopular ruling party had been released.

This open rape on democracy led to the first military coup in the country on 15th July, 1966. Similar allegations were made against the ruling party in the days preceding the 1983 general elections and it also culminated in another military coup.

As a human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is disturbed by the allegation of massive arrest of key opposition figures during the last gubernatorial election in Ekiti State. Equally unnerving is the police treatment of the state governor (who was allegedly teargassed), the palpable presence of soldiers and the latter’s treatment of opposition leaders, including governors from other states who belonged to the opposition.

MURIC expresses grave concern over this anti-democratic trend of a partisan military and a compromised police force. These are all the ingredients needed to inject heavy doses of unethical and unprofessional drugs into the anatomy of the security agencies.

The price Nigeria will pay for this is heavy as our military may be rendered impotent in real battle situations. We may be paying the price already because this factor may have been responsible for the inability of Nigerian soldiers to overpower Boko Haram insurgents.

Whereas MURIC has a principled obligation to remain nonpartisan, it is also our duty as an integral part of civil society to watch the actions of governments and to point out their excesses. This is necessary in order to keep governments on the tiptoes of good governance.

This is the international best practices among Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs).  It is therefore needless to blackmail civil society by accusing us of nursing and exhibiting pro-opposition proclivities. Whereas politicians think only of the next election, MURIC thinks of the safety and welfare of this and coming generations.

Our regular advocacy and interventions are in consonance with the teaching of Islam concerning the relationship between the government and the citizenry. The Glorious Qur’an warns citizens not to stand aloof when things are going awry, “And fear a tumult or oppression which will not affect the wrongdoers alone…” (Qur’sn 8:25).

We therefore appeal to the Federal Government to resist the temptation to use all powers at its disposal to secure victory at all costs in the Osun gubernatorial election on Saturday 9th August, 2014. We also advise the security agencies to manifest the height of professionalism in the discharge of their duties, particularly during this coming election. We charge the electorate in Osun to be peaceful, orderly and law-abiding.

Finally, we urge civil society to stand up and be counted in the conduct of Osun 2014 polls before, during and after the election.

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