Tuesday, June 23, 2015

NASS LEADERSHIP CRISIS: RECONCILE IN THE INTEREST OF NIGERIA



23rd June, 2015
PRESS RELEASE:
NASS LEADERSHIP CRISIS:
RECONCILE IN THE INTEREST OF NIGERIA

The Nigerian National Assembly (NASS) has been engulfed in leadership crisis for the past two weeks. The elections of Senators Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively have been enveloped in controversy. Consequently, the NASS has not been able to make any progress as inauguration has since been postponed indefinitely.

Like all other Nigerians who have strong faith in the ‘change’ ideology, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is deeply disturbed by this ugly development.

Nigerians threw their weight fully behind the ruling party during the last general election and the least APC can do now is to drop buck-passing, find a middle course and move the nation forward. Only thus can our votes be made to count.   

Intra-party feuds are not strange in democracies all over the world but what marks a political culture as sophisticated is the ease and the speed with which solutions are found each time there is a threat of implosion. This is why APC leaders must quickly bury the hatched before political shenanigans and enemies of democracy capitalize on the in-fighting to cause greater damage.


Above all, APC leaders must demonstrate their political sagacity in handling the crisis without allowing it to escalate further in order to keep the military at bay. We should not give the military the impression that Nigerian politicians cannot handle democracy. An early resolution of the crisis in a friendly way will also assure Nigerians that our democracy has matured.


Why should the APC give leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) cause to mock them? Nigerians know the PDP for its cluelessness, its waste of scarce resources, its unbridled promotion of corruption and its love for impunity, abuse of decorum, recklessness and lawlessness. That explains why the Nigerian ship drifted aimlessly at sea for sixteen years.


Have APC leaders forgotten so soon how former President Jonathan wielded the tyrant’s big stick against them? Security agents were illegally employed by Jonathan to silence you in the opposition camp. Hundreds were clamped in detention in the days preceding elections. Your movements and speeches were censored. Your aircrafts were denied landing right while you were midair. Those planning to take off were not allowed to do so, all in an effort to destabilize and frustrate you. Buhari’s certificate could not be found. But you weathered the storm and came out victorious. Will any sacrifice be too big in order to sustain this victory?


A verse of the Glorious Qur’an which teaches unity is very pertinent here. It says, “And hold fast the rope which Allah stretches out to you. Do not be divided. Remember Allah’s favour on you when you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, such that, by His Grace, you became brothers (you formed the coalition that enabled you to win the election). You were on the brink of the pit of fire (Jonathan’s torments) and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His signs clear to you so that you may be guided (Qur’an 3:103).


MURIC therefore reminds APC leaders that this is not the time to allow experts in divide et impera to have their way. This is not the time to win and take all. It is the time to share with partners in the trench, time to extend the dividends of democracy to all Nigerians.


The contributions and sacrifices of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu cannot be overemphasized. His common sense revolution galvanized the control of a single state to six and later metamorphosed into what we have today.


Neither should anyone underestimate the gargantuan input of President Muhammadu Buhari’s party, the Congress For Progressive Change (CPC) which all alone gave Jonathan the run for his money in 2011 and garnered a large chunk of the day’s votes.


Yet the coalition of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the CPC could still have had little effect on the 2015 general elections without the defection of the five governors.


The historical walkout at the PDP convention led by former Vice President Abubakar Atiku paved the way for the governors’ defection and spelled doom for the PDP administration. Stakeholders in the party must therefore acknowledge the fact that it was the partnership which worked.  


While we admit that intra-party conflict is good for democracy because it promotes transparency and free speech, we must know the limits. We must know when the party is pushed to the edge of the precipice. That is the time to allow the spirit of give-and-take.


Finally, MURIC strongly appeals to the top echelon of the party to make more sacrifices now in order to strengthen the party. Those who stoop early conquer convincingly. Giving so much and taking so little is the hallmark of altruism. Nay, it is the height of leadership quality. To the authors of the conspiracy which has engulfed the NASS, we remind them that posterity will only honour them if they think more of Nigeria and less of themselves.


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



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

RAMADAN MESSAGE: FG SHOULD SAVE WORKERS FROM HUNGER



17th June, 2015
RAMADAN MESSAGE:
FG SHOULD SAVE WORKERS FROM HUNGER
Muslims around the world are on the threshold of this year’s Ramadan (Ramadan 1436 AH). Muslims fast for thirty or twenty nine days while dedicating themselves to other religious duties like supplications, public lectures and tafsir (exegesis of the Glorious Qur’an).
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) felicitates with Nigerian Muslims on this auspicious occasion.

We note with deep concern that thousands of workers in many states of the federation are being owed salaries ranging from five to seven months. We express strong solidarity with these poor workers. We feel their pain and frustration. We are in the abyss of despondency because we know that they are in a state of sadness.

We are constrained to blame the past regime of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for stinting states of funds whereas it wasted billions of the taxpayers’ money on buying votes and extravagant campaign projects. Such money could have saved the states from the mess in which they now find themselves.

As a result of Jonathan’s lackluster performance and financial recklessness, workers in many states have been turned into beggars. Hunger and starvation have been their closest companions as they have been compelled to start their own fasting everyday even long before the advent of Ramadan.

MURIC shares the pangs of hunger being felt by Nigerian workers at this particular period. It is the irony of faith that people who are already suffering from starvation are now being required by the dictate of creed to fast in the month of Ramadan.

We appeal to workers to exercise patience and to allow the new regime of Muhammadu Buhari to settle down. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Nigeria has enough resources to take care of all so long as those in power do not engage in waste and kleptomania.

Finally, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to expedite action on federal assistance to states, particularly those owing salary arrears. We appeal to Muslims throughout Nigeria to spend the Ramadan period praying for enduring peace, political stability and economic recovery in Nigeria.

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




Monday, June 8, 2015

DECLARE JUNE 12 AS DEMOCRACY DAY



8th June, 2015
PRESS RELEASE:
DECLARE JUNE 12 AS DEMOCRACY DAY

June 12, 1993 will remain sacrosanct in the annals of Nigerian history. It was the day Nigerians from all walks of life voted for Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, presidential candidate of the defunct Social Democratic Party.

That election was the fairest and most peaceful ever held in Nigeria as there were no incidents of violence, ballot box snatching or allegations of rigging. Yet an infinitesimally tiny cabal comprising senior military officers in the then ruling military government and a handful of civilian turncoats ganged up to annul the election even after it was clear from the results announced so far that Chief M. K. O. Abiola had won the election.

That annulment turned Nigeria into a pariah nation as the West slammed economic sanctions on the country. Peace also eluded us for several years as civil unrest reigned supreme. Democracy was eventually restored when the military handed over to a civilian regime on May 29, 1999. But the fifth columnists were still able to influence government’s policies as the latter declared May 29 of every year as Democracy Day. Nigeria has since been marking its Democracy Day on May 29 of every year.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) hereby calls on the Federal Government of Nigeria (FG) to take steps to correct this anomaly by declaring June 12 as Democracy Day throughout Nigeria. May 29 is a monumental fraud. It is an attempt to rewrite the history of this great country. June 12 is Nigeria’s date with destiny. It is the plain truth. Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the late Sardauna of Sokoto said, “The greatest weapon is truth”. We therefore urge FG to stand by that truth.

We hinge our position on the fact that the progressives who constituted the opposition before and who controlled states in the South-West had always marked their own Democracy Day on June 12. They are the heroes of the June 12 revolution.

Also, since the slogan and driving force of the new political dispensation is ‘Change’ and it was on that basis that Nigerians voted for the Buhari-Osinbajo combination, it is only proper that the ‘Change’ begins to manifest from an official recognition of June 12 as our Democracy Day.

The present regime of President Muhammadu Buhari has a lot in common with the June 12 phenomenon. Just as June 12, 1993 marked the day Nigerians sank their tribal and religious differences to vote for MKO, the man in whom they had faith, Nigerians closed their eyes to ethnicity and creed and voted for ‘Change’ on March 28, 2015. FG must therefore give Nigerians the ‘Change’ it promised them, the ‘Change’ they are yearning for. That ‘Change’ is to declare June 12 as Democracy Day and to jettison May 29.

Finally, MURIC posits that May 29 as Democracy Day was a military imposition concocted to spite the MKO revolution which is deeply rooted in June 12. We therefore charge FG to sow the wind of ‘Change’ by allowing the GENERAL WILL to take its due course. June 12 is the date of truth and transparent honesty. It is the date of ‘Change’, the date of destiny. On June 12 we stand.   

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



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

WE REJECT JONATHAN AS ‘ADVOCATE OF PEACE’



27th May, 2015
PRESS RELEASE:
WE REJECT JONATHAN AS ‘ADVOCATE OF PEACE’

Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan said on Friday 22nd May, 2015 that he would be an advocate of peace in the country after leaving office. He was quoted as saying, “One thing that I have decided to do after leaving office, is to make sure that I will be talking to all faithful of all religions, Christians, Muslims and other religions the need for Nigerians to live in peace.”

While we agree that there is every need for peaceful coexistence, we of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) regard Mr. President’s latest declaration as immodest, belated, hypocritical and an absolute afterthought.

President Jonathan’s request to become an ambassador of peace is baffling. People do not ask for honour. It is given freely, willingly and spontaneously.  

Honour is earned through quality leadership, not demanded and snatched via rough tackles and arm-twisting. People who are truly honourable do not lobby for it. The quality of honour is like the golden fish. Honour has no place to hide. 

People will see it wherever it is even without showing itself. So why is our outgoing president parading himself as a peace ambassador?

A peace ambassador must be acceptable to all parties but the case of Jonathan is different. He is not acceptable as an ambassador to Nigerian Muslims. 

We cannot accept Jonathan as a go-between in matters affecting us and our Christian neighbours because his sins against us are so many that we have stopped counting. 

But we continued to respect him because of his exalted office. We believe that respect for the office of Mr. President is respect for our country, Nigeria.  
  
MURIC complained when President Jonathan marginalized Muslims in ministerial and other appointments. We cried out when Jonathan turned his national conference to an overwhelmingly Christian conference. There are many more. 

Just recently and a few days to handing over to a new administration, Jonathan gave Nigerian Muslims a direct slap on the face when he selected members of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) without consulting Muslim leaders at all. How can Jonathan shave our heads in our absence? No good ambassador will do this.

 It means that if he becomes ambassador of peace, at worst, he would just sit down in Otuoke, invite the Christians and take a decision without meeting the Muslims. Or, at best, he would ignore the recognized leadership of Nigerian Muslims and simply handpick the minority Muslims in his state to represent all the Muslims of Nigeria. Respect begets respect. Jonathan has forgotten that people below are watching those on top. 

How can Jonathan be an ambassador of peace? His militant kinsmen threatened the rest of Nigeria with hell on earth if he lost the election and he kept quiet. His wife publicly insulted Northerners in particular and Nigerian Muslims in general calling us people who produce children without caring for them and the husband kept mute. Jonathan has no sense of justice. Neither can he call those under him to order. How can such a man be crowned ambassador of peace?

Except the few political jobbers in his government, Nigerian Muslims have no confidence in President Jonathan. How can we repose confidence in him when we could not get justice, fairness and equal rights under him? 

How can we accept him as an ambassador of peace and a fair umpire when he was not fair to us when he was in government. President Jonathan wants to be rewarded for what he did not work for. He wants to sow where he did not reap. We will not accept that.

Nigerian Muslims know political and religious leaders who deserve their respect and who they can accept as ambassadors of peace. We do not wish to be misunderstood. There are Christians among such leaders whom we respect. 

Even the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has produced leaders who are devoid of prejudice and hatred against Nigerian Muslims. ArchBishop John Onaiyekan, former CAN president is one of such leaders. Bishop Idowu Fearon of Kaduna Diocese is another. There are many others.

Jonathan’s claim to deserving ambassadorial honour between Christians and Muslims is false, baseless and therefore unacceptable. In fact, by marginalizing Muslims and maltreating them, Jonathan did more harm to Christians in Nigeria because those actions of malice against Muslims stoked up anti-Christian sentiments in the minds of the former.

Any leader who engages in favouritism for people of his own faith while ignoring those of another creed is setting the two groups against each other. MURIC therefore advises the President-Elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to pursue a policy of fairness and openness to all, to give unto Christians all rights and priviledges due to them without forgetting the demands and complaints of Muslims.

What Nigeria needs is not necessarily a Christian or a Muslim. We need a leader with an iron will, a leader to whom riches mean nothing, a leader who cares and feels for the jamaheer (masses), a leader who has zero tolerance for corruption and utmost respect for the rule of law.

We advise President Jonathan to stop building castles in the air and to face the reality on ground. He is not leaving office as a hero but as a leader who messed up the economy of his country, glorified corruption and divided Nigeria along religious and ethnic lines. How can such a man demand the exalted position of a peace ambassador?  

Finally, we urge the international community to ignore Jonathan’s image-laundering efforts after his woeful performance in office. He is not acceptable to Nigerian Muslims as a peace ambassador. Rather, we regard him as one of the major causes of Nigeria’s woes, an unmitigated disaster in Nigeria’s search for quality leadership and the worst president Nigeria should never have had.

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