Wednesday, October 1, 2014

TEXT OF JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE ON LAGOS 2015 GOVERNORSHIP


In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE BY ISLAMIC ORGANISATIONS ON
LAGOS 2015 HELD AT THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE MUSLIM RIGHTS CONCERN (MURIC) ON WEDNESDAY 1ST OCTOBER, 2014

Distinguished Muslim leaders,
Gentlemen of the Press,
As-Salaam Alaykum,

We welcome you to this press briefing. This event is informed by our commitment to the adoption of dialogue on key issues in our multi-religious and multi-ethnic society. All civilized societies adopt this option as an alternative to violent reactions. We intend to address two major issues today: the 2015 gubernatorial election in Lagos State and the demand of Muslims for the use of hijab in Lagos public schools.  

2015 GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION:
You are all aware of the hue and cry made by our Christian neighbours over who should be the next governor of Lagos State come 2015. The Christians have insisted that the next governor must be a Christian. This demand being made by Lagos Christians is not a secret affair. It was in the newspapers, on radio and television.

We wish to place it on record that by demanding that the next governor of Lagos State must be a Christian, the Christians of Lagos have strayed into the realm of religious politics. They are now the ones who started religious politics and nobody should try to falsify history by turning round to accuse Muslims of mixing politics with religion or vice versa.

We the Muslims of Lagos State believe that the faith of the next governor should not really be the issue, rather Lagosians should fish out a trustworthy person, somebody with the right credentials of transparency, hardwork, vision and integrity.

Lagos State needs someone who can guarantee employment for young graduates, security of lives and properties, freedom of speech, equal rights, justice, respect for Allah-given and fundamental human rights as well as freedom of religion. In particular, Lagos State needs a governor who is prepared to treat both Christians and Muslims equally, no matter his personal religious affiliation. 

In this regard, we are constrained to reject the candidature of anyone who is being pushed down the throat of Lagosians by Lagos Christians. This method of choosing candidates is not only archaic and myopic but degrading and undemocratic. A choice based on primordial sentiment must not be allowed if we want performance in office. Religion as a major criterion for choosing a governor is highly reactionary and very conservative.

It has also come to our knowledge that an Islamic scholar and former member of the Lagos House of Assembly opened declared his support for a Christian gubernatorial candidate. This Islamic scholar claimed that he was acting on behalf of all Islamic organizations in Lagos State.  We hereby dissociate ourselves from the so called ‘endorsement’. The purported endorsement which occurred at a rally held at the National Stadium and beamed nationwide on television stations is nothing short of an hocus pocus and an ego-massaging exercise.

We assert clearly, unambiguously and categorically that Islamic organizations were not consulted before the unauthorised ‘endorsement’. The Islamic scholar is advised to desist forthwith from parading himself as the mouthpiece of Islamic organizations in Lagos State while we advise gubernatorial candidates to explore the possibility of genuine dialogue with leaders of Islamic organizations in the state. We warn that any attempt to shave our heads in our absence will be an exercise in futility.

We also affirm that the Muslims of Lagos State are not aware of and have not endorsed any candidate as running mate or Deputy Governor for any political party, a position for which the Islamic scholar has been parading himself as a candidate.

We affirm without any apology to anybody that we Muslims are not second best. Neither are we pushovers in the political arena or any field whatsoever.

Any gubernatorial candidate or political party seeking the support of the Muslims of Lagos State must therefore put his cards on the table by holding direct discussions with leaders of Islamic organizations in the state. We reject clandestine arrangements with individuals driven by their narrow and personal objectives.

We have been deceived for so long by Lagos politicians. We have had unfulfilled promises. We have also suffered deprivation of our Allah-given and fundamental human rights in this same Lagos. So we say “Never again!” Never again will any single politician or group of politicians be allowed to hoodwink Lagos Muslims into selling their birthrights for a pot of porridge. Never again will any religious charlatan be allowed to railroad us into submitting our political power for his personal gains. Never again will Lagos Muslims open their doors wide for hypocrites and parasites to enslave Muslim children.

We will take our destiny in our hands and match forward with truth and the fear of Allah as our only weapon. We demand respect for the dignity of the Muslim person. We demand a halt to dehumanization of Muslims, degradation of Islamic culture and contempt for Islamic norms, values and landmarks.   

For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in our statements suggests that we do not want Christians to rule in Lagos State. All we are saying is that due process and objective assessment of candidates should be the criteria, not religious sentiment. We challenge anybody to provide proof that Lagos Muslims came out openly to demand the installation of Muslim governors in the past.

In Fact, when we trace the history of politics in Lagos State from 1914 when the Southern and Northern protectorates were amalgamated we had Christians who had been governing us, we Muslims did not complain. Why the hue and cry now?

Asiwaju Bola Hamed Tinubu became governor on merit. Nobody brandished the banner of Islam at his party’s convention. So did Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola. They emerged on the platform of their political parties without any religious consideration. Their pedigree overwhelmed all others within their party.

Paradoxically, it is on record that the governors who returned schools to the missionaries, demolished mosques, stopped female Muslim students from using Hijab, passed and signed the anti-Muslim Coroner Law and Cremation Law, blocked the application of Shariah since its passage on 2nd August 2011, were also Muslims.

If it is true that Muslim governors were instrumental to evolving anti-Muslim policies, it defeats the subjective notion that Lagos Christians want a Christian governor. Sentiments apart, the demand currently being made by Lagos Christians for a Christian governor in 2015 is therefore parochial, divisive and ridiculous. It makes a mockery of democracy. It is laughable that such a demand is coming from educated people.

Worse still, the demand by Lagos Christians for a Christian governor seeks to set a very dangerous precedent. If allowed to stay, future contests are likely to be preceded by conflicting demands from Muslims, Christians and traditionalists, each gunning for one of its adherents to become the next governor with little regard for ability to perform, probity and accountability. How do we ensure good governance in such a situation?

In conclusion, we reject the demand being made by Lagos Christians for a Christian to emerge as the next governor in 2015.

We affirm that such an arrangement is alien to Lagos political culture. The demand is an insult to Lagos Muslims and an assault on the psyche of the peace-loving and progressive people of Lagos State. It also smacks of religious extremism.

We invite the Christians of Lagos State to embrace reason by withdrawing their demand. Lagos State has been peaceful all these years. Nobody should use religious sentiment to turn this state of excellence into a theater of war.

This notwithstanding, we will continue to coexist peacefully with our Christian neighbours. We envisage a Lagos State where both Christians and Muslims enjoy freedom of religion including freedom to practice and manifest without let or hinderance, where they live side by side in harmony, loving, sharing and building a strong and virile Lagos State.

CAVEAT:
We the Muslims of Lagos State will not vote for any candidate who fails to integrate Islamic values, norms and culture into his vision. Appointments into public offices (commissioners, special advisers, board members and chairmen, etc) must reflect adequate representation of Muslims.

‘NO HIJAB NO VOTE’:
The slogan of Muslims for Lagos 2015 is ‘No Hijab, No Vote’. Hijab here is a symbol of respect for the way of life of Muslims and a commitment by politicians to accept the legitimate demands of Muslims. These demands will be tabled before candidates when they meet leaders of Islamic organizations.

Let us reiterate that no secret meeting with any individual leader, no matter how credible, will be acceptable to Lagos Muslims. Individual leaders of Islamic organizations are therefore given the caveat in this regard, i. e. Do not meet any political candidate alone on behalf of Lagos Muslims. A word is enough for the wise.

Gentlemen of the press, we thank you for listening and for devoting your time to this event. Allah bless you all.


Professor Ishaq Akintola                                                        
             Director                                                                                      
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)                               

Barrister Musoddiq Sanni,
Chairman
Muslim Lawyers Association (MULAN)

Barrister Ishaq Adesina,
Chairman,                                                                                                    
Supreme Council For Shariah in Nigeria
(Lagos Chapter)                                                          

Alhaji Murtada A. Balogun
National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations (NACOMYO)



Thursday, September 25, 2014

DEATH OF SHEKAU: IS BOKO HARAM DEAD?


26th September, 2014

PRESS RELEASE:
DEATH OF SHEKAU: IS BOKO HARAM DEAD?

The Nigerian military yesterday confirmed the killing of one Muhammed Bashir, the replica of Abubakar Shekau, who had allegedly been mimicking the leader of Boko Haram. According to the military, Abubakar Shekau himself had been killed a year ago in a confrontation with soldiers fighting Boko Haram insurgents.      

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) regards the killing of Muhammed Bashir as a feather in the cap of the Nigerian military. It is no mean feat to get close enough to the leader of deadly insurgents and to succeed in killing him. The Nigerian Army should also be commended for achieving this feat in spite of its limitations which include sabotage, acute lack of supplies, complete absence of motivation and a criminal deprivation of arms.

MURIC recalls the atrocities of Shekau and his alleged replica under whose brutish leadership Boko Haram unleashed terror on the people of the North East, bringing untold hardship and grinding the economy to a halt. Nonetheless, we regret his death on the battle field as this does not adequately demystify him as the monster behind the assassination of more than three North Eastern Emirs, the killing of scores of Islamic scholars and Christian clerics as well as the attack on the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero.

We regret that Shekau’s death or that of Muhammed Bashir has elevated the duo in the den of terrorists to the lofty status of martyrs. Alive and in chains, they would have served bitter lessons to rebellious subjects, enemies of peace and apostles of death and destruction.

But what next after the death of these two terrorists? It is quite unfortunate that the only lesson men learn from history is that they learn nothing from history. We charge the Federal Government to learn some lessons from the killing of Bin Laden whose death merely fuelled the rise of terrorism and gave birth to ISIS and Boko Haram. FG must therefore be told point blank that it is not yet Uhuru.

Abubakar Shekau may be dead. Muhammed Bashir may have been put under. Boko Haram is still alive and kicking. FG therefore has a Herculean task before it. To kill Boko Haram is a task that must be done. What steps must FG take to ensure that Boko Haram is dead and buried?

MURIC suggests the following:

1.  Soldiers battling Boko Haram insurgents must be adequately catered for in terms of welfare, medicare and the relations left behind by fallen soldiers;
2.  The procurement by the military and prompt supply of state-of-the-art weapons and equipments to soldiers confronting insurgents must be FG’s priority from now on;
3.  The revitalization of the economy of the North East in particular and the whole North in general and the provision of jobs for hitherto idle youths have become mandatory in order to prevent similar occurrence in future;
4.  FG must, on the basis of equal rights, justice and fair play, establish as a matter of urgency, a Nothern States Development Board and a Ministry of Northern Affairs in the same manner that there now exists similar institutions in the Niger Delta and
5.  In view of submissions by experts that Boko Haram is a fallout of bad governance and socio-economic injustice, governments at all levels must henceforth ensure that justice is done to all its citizens.

It is not over until it is over.

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



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CASH-LOADED JET AND WEAPONS DEAL: IT IS A CONSPIRACY AGAINST MUSLIMS


17th September, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
CASH-LOADED JET AND WEAPONS DEAL: IT IS A CONSPIRACY AGAINST MUSLIMS


Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor was alleged to have admitted ownership of a private jet seized last weekend by South African authorities. The aircraft was stashed with $9.3 million in cash meant for arms purchase. In the same vein, the Federal Government (FG) issued a statement yesterday admitting ownership of the cash. Oritsejafor has sought to extenuate the deal by claiming that the jet was hired out by Eagle Air in which the pastor himself has “residual interest”.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is alarmed by this scandalous development. We have every reason to reject FG’s explanation and it is hereby rejected. Government is being economical with the truth. We suspect a grand conspiracy against Nigerian Muslims in this latest revelation.

Nigerian Muslims are enveloped with apprehension. All the ingredients of a plot are here for those who care to look beyond their noses. In a country in which two religions are most prominent and are hot rivals of each other, here is the national leader of a religious group who also happens to be the president’s kinsman, an undisguised Muslim hater, a man with a belligerent disposition towards his Muslim neighbours, a man who has been threatening hell and brimstone over the Boko Haram saga. Tie this to the Israeli connection, a country well known for its anti-Muslim and mass murder propensities. It raises more questions than answers.

For instance, was the intended arms purchase really meant for the Nigerian Armed Forces? What is the guaranty that it was not meant for Niger Delta militants, or Christian crusaders masquerading as Boko Haram? Afterall, under-the-table assistance for Boko Haram has been noticed in the past. Where did the arms and food drops for Boko Haram by helicopters come from? Only the Israelis are capable of doing that.

MURIC is shocked by the huge amount involved: $9.3 million! Conservatively, $1m is N163m. $9.3m is therefore N1,514,502,583.61 at the current exchange rate of N163 to $1. It is very disturbing for this to be happening in a country bedeviled by serious security challenges bordering on religious rivalry and ethnic jingoism. There is definitely something sinister about all these.

We assert that Nigerian Muslims are not safe any longer. We are not safe in the hands of Israeli military advisers breathing down the neck of the Nigerian government and encouraging it to arm the Christians to the teeth. The fate of Nigerian Muslims is therefore not certain.

We have lost confidence in FG and its security agencies, particularly with the involvement of Israel. Islamic scholars are disappearing at will all over the country.

Recruitment exercises into the security outfits favour Christians even in Muslim dominated areas. President Jonathan has just concluded a national conference whose composition was lopsided and in favour of Christians. FG relies heavily on Israel, a well-known anti-Muslim country for its security matters. Palpable fear of religious cleansing has therefore gripped Muslims.

Whole Muslim communities are already being wiped out in the North East under the guise of ‘Boko Haram’. Just two months ago, 34 Muslims who were followers of Shaykh Ibrahim Alzakzaky were massacred by soldiers in Zaria and nothing has been heard of it.

MURIC calls on the National Assembly to save Nigeria from total disintegration. This jet and cash story is a scandal of monumental proportion and it must not be swept under the carpet. The National Assembly must intervene in order to calm nerves.

This is not the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob. It is the hand of President Jonathan and the voice of Oritsejafor. There is an unholy union here. An aircraft owned by a war-mongering and current national president of CAN, the cash is being claimed by a Christian-led, Muslim-repressing government, there is more to this than meets the eye. We are no longer safe.

MURIC demands the termination of all security deals with the Israelis in Aso Rock, the seat of government. It is too dangerous to involve a country like Israel, an anti-Muslim country in the security matters of a country like Nigeria, deeply polarized by religious sentiments. Only a government with an anti-Muslim agenda will do such a thing. It is time for the Israelis to be kept at bay regarding key security issues in Nigeria.

We advise President Jonathan to change his tactics, to integrate Muslims into his government, to stop the political marginalization of Muslims, to review the Christian-loaded recruitment into the security agencies, to probe the disappearance of Islamic scholars and the killing of Muslims in Zaria and to balance the sharing of the dividends of democracy between Christians and Muslims.

 We warn that the lopsided recruitment into the security agencies, particularly the Nigerian Army in the past three years, smacks of a more sinister plot to systematically wipe out Nigerian Muslims through extra-judicial killings.

We draw the attention of the international community to acts of pro-Christian favouritism and anti-Muslim practices of President Jonathan. The Nigerian leader is deliberately dividing his citizens along religious lines.

MURIC affirms that it seeks peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims. We are prepared to live with our neighbours. We urge those fanning the embers of war and amassing weapons to remember the plight of Liberia, Congo, Sierra Leone, Bosnia Herzegovina, etc. The ravages of war, the sufferings of millions of innocent young and old are better imagined than experienced.

Finally, we appeal to Muslims throughout Nigeria to allow the National Assembly to wade into the matter. Meanwhile, we charge them to remain calm and law-abiding.

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



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

MURIC MOURNS IMAM AJISAFE


9th September, 2014

PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC MOURNS IMAM AJISAFE

The death occurred yesterday of Shaykh Mustapha Olayiwola Ajisafe, the Chief Imam of Oshogboland and President-General of the League of Imams and Alfas, South-West, Edo and Delta States. Shaykh Ajisafe died in the evening of yesterday, Monday 8th September, 2014.

He will be buried by 2 p.m. today at his home, in Oshogbo, Osun State.

Until his death, Shaykh Mustapha Ajisafe was a member of the Ulama Committee of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). A brilliant and forthright Islamic scholar, Shaykh Ajisafe has been playing a prominent role in guiding pilgrims from the Southern part of Nigeria during hajj seasons in the past five years.

The deceased will be remembered for his friendliness and warmth and his closeness to the youth. He worked tirelessly for the progress of Yorubaland. He promoted peaceful coexistence among different religious and ethnic groups. His death will leave a yawning gap in the Muslim community of Southern Nigeria.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) condoles the governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the Ataoja of Oshogbo, Oba Jimoh Laranoye II,  the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the NSCIA, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III and the Muslim community of Southern Nigeria.

We pray that Almighty Allah will repose his soul in Al-Jannah Firdaus and give his family and close associates the strength to bear this irreparable loss.

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





Monday, August 25, 2014

BOKO HARAM CALIPHATE IS A MIRAGE


25th August, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
BOKO HARAM CALIPHATE IS A MIRAGE

The leader of the Boko Haram insurgents, Abubakar Shekau, yesterday declared Gwoza as Boko Haram’s caliphate. Gwoza is a part of Borno State that was overrun by the insurgents a few days ago.

We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) hereby totally and unequivocally reject this declaration. We reaffirm our faith in the unity and indissolubility of Nigeria.

Almighty Allah says, “Oh you who believe, obey Allah, His Messenger and those in position of authority.” (Qur’an 4:59). Islam therefore commands obedience to constituted authority but Boko Haram has chosen disobedience to and belligerence towards the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Whereas Boko Haram members are aware that the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III is the indisputable leader of all Nigerian Muslims, they have refused to heed all his appeals. Instead of giving honour to Muslim leaders and Emirs, Boko Haram has killed some of them and attacked some others.

Whereas all-encompassing education is one of the basic tenets of Islam (Qur’an 96:1-5), Boko Haram forbids Western education. Whereas the Prophet (SAW) in the hadith commands education for all, Boko Haram seeks to alienate women from education.

Again, whereas the Prophet (SAW) honoured the girl-child and commanded his followers to do same, Boko Haram kidnaps and enslaves young and innocent girls thereby exposing them to wild life and subjecting them to unimaginable psychological trauma.

Boko Haram’s declaration is a statement of secession. It must not be allowed. Gwoza must be liberated within days. Boko Haram or no Boko Haram, we cannot compromise the territorial integrity of Nigeria to anyone, no matter how barbaric.

We also charge the Nigerian Armed Forces to be more focused from this moment. Boko Haram must be flushed out with microscopic accuracy from all the villages occupied in Borno State. But there is a caveat: it must be done professionally so that innocent civilians do not fall victims.

MURIC calls attention to the declaration of the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in which they outlawed Boko Haram and declared its practices outrageous and unacceptable in Islam.

From its latest statement, it is clear that Boko Haram is emulating the Islamic State in Iraq (ISIS) which declared a phantom caliphate a few months ago. It is didactic that world Muslim bodies have also rejected ISIS because of its unIslamic practices and its open and inhuman hostility towards its Christian population.

Gwoza Caliphate is definitely not the caliphate which we desire. Unlike that of ISIS and Boko Haram, the caliphate of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) which he established in Madinah was based on justice, love and peaceful coexistence.

MURIC therefore rejects Boko Haram’s caliphate. It is a mirage. It exists only in the figment of Shekau’s imagination. Like a good surgeon who will not hesitate to amputate a rotten limb from a patient’s anatomy, MURIC urges President Jonathan to immediately don the garb of a good surgeon.

Finally, we assure all Nigerians that Muslims want to live in peace and tranquility with their Christian neighbours and their traditionalist brothers and sisters in one and indivisible Nigeria. We have come a long way together so we will not emulate butchers of men. Islam strengthens humanity. It does not debase it.

Neither shall we listen to those who ask us to kill people of Western origin in our midst. We affirm that Islam is a universal religion. It does not hate on the basis of race, colour or sex. We therefore assure all foreigners in the country that they have nothing to fear from mainstream Muslims. We appreciate their presence in our midst and we will continue to honour them as our Prophet (SAW) commanded us to do.

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



Saturday, August 23, 2014

HARRASSMENT OF DAILY TRUST JOURNALISTS BY THE MILITARY: THREAT TO FREE SPEECH


24th August, 2014
PRESS RELEASE:
HARRASSMENT OF DAILY TRUST JOURNALISTS BY THE MILITARY: THREAT TO FREE SPEECH

Soldiers on Thursday invaded the Maiduguri offices of the Daily Trust after a story published by the paper on Wednesday alleged that Nigerian soldiers had refused orders to fight Boko Haram militants with their bare hands. Two managers of the paper, Jamilu Aliyu and Aminu Ado were detained for one hour at the army headquarters in Maiduguri.

The military later released a statement that said the Daily Trust should retract the story and, in the future, contact the military for any story on the army or national security or face sanctions. However, Nigerian Army spokesperson has since denied that any sanction was being planned against the newspaper.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) calls on the Nigerian military to regard cordial relation with the press as crucial in the war against insurgents. It is high time the Nigerian military realized that any war at all has three fronts: the battle field per se, public opinion at home and the opinion of the international community. It is only in the first front that weapons and soldiers feature. The rest is in the hands of the press.

Soldiers may win battles, it is the press that wins the war for them or vice versa. Of course the attitude of the press is largely informed by the military’s professional or unprofessional prosecution of the war.

The storming of Daily Trust office in Maiduguri falls in the category of the unprofessional. It was also unjust because Daily Trust was not the primary source of the report as it was first broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). MURIC strongly condemns this invasion. It is an undeniable symptom of dictatorship of the left. It was barbaric, unethical and in bad taste.

For improved relations between the press and the military, we suggest that future operations against insurgents should be conducted with the embedding of journalists. This will conform with international best practices. It is well known that journalists are often embedded in military convoys during advances on enemy targets in civilized countries and we see no reason why the Nigerian military cannot do it.  

The fact that the two Daily Trust reporters who were arrested by the army were told to stop criticizing the military speaks volumes. The Nigerian military should realize that Gestapo tactics have become unpopular, archaic and myopic.

Those who muzzle the press have more than something to hide. It is sad that other democratic institutions remain quiet when these atrocities are committed. The National Assembly should wake up from its slumber because democracy cannot thrive where the press is gagged.

MURIC calls on the Nigerian military to respect Allah-given and fundamental rights of the press. Only thus can the freedom of the press be guaranteed. As a civilian institution and the Fourth Estate of the Realm, the press must be recognized by the military as a partner and not as an enemy or a rival.

The Nigerian press has assisted in enabling government to know about problems facing the military particularly in the area of needs. It was after the Nigerian press reported the problem of poor funding and crude weaponry that the Federal Government rose to the occasion. The same reports also enabled the international community to know the problems facing the Nigerian Army.

Consequently, Western powers have donated several modern equipments like bomb-detecting robots from the United States and jet bombers from Britain. This reveals that the Nigerian Army has started benefitting from the labour of the Nigerian press. How then can one good turn deserve invasion and arrest?

MURIC gives kudos to the two brave journalists from the Daily Trust. We urge them to regard the experience as part of the hazards of their noble profession. We charge the Nigerian press in general to remain as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.

We call on the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to file a complaint on the constant intimidation of its members before the presidency and the National Assembly. NUJ must be ready to sue the military for these constant infringements if government fails to take any action on their complaint.

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



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)