Tuesday, January 14, 2014


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Motto: Dialogue, Not Violence
Teledawah Plaza, Zone ‘E’, GRA, Iba Estate, Iba, P.O. Box 10211, LASU Post Office, HO 102 101, Ojo, Lagos State. Tel. 08182119714
E-mail: muslimrightsconcern@yahoo.co.uk BLOG: muslimrightsmuric.blogspot.com  Website: www.muric.net 10th January, 2014
Our office has been inundated with calls for action on the demand of Lagos Christians for a Christian governor come 2015. We are not perturbed. We believe that Christians have the right to make demands. This is a democracy. There must be freedom of speech. But we believe in merit. Lagosians must open their eyes and vote for a trustworthy person, somebody with an intimidating pedigree, someone who can perform, someone who will fulfill the yearnings and aspirations of the good people of Lagos State. Religion cannot fill that vacuum. It is all sentiment. Sheer sentiment. What the people need is a performer, a man of dignity, a humanist, an upholder of the rule of law and a champion of the principles of freedom, fairplay, equal rights and justice: somebody who will treat Christians, Muslims and traditionalists as well as people of all tribes equally.
We have all seen how Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola performed both during his first and second terms (which is still ongoing). Oshodi was a haven of criminals which successive Lagos regimes found a hard nut to crack. Even the military governments in Lagos failed to do it. But Fashola injected a heavy dose of sanity in the hoodlums who were making life uncomfortable for people in that area. Take the macadamized Lekki Toll Gate as another example. It is marvelous, so marvelous that first visitors think they are somewhere in Boston, M. A. Another example is the ongoing train project which is expected to run from Badagry through Okokomaiko to Orile. We can go on and on. We are happy that a Muslim Governor is delivering on his campaign promises.
Yet Fashola has his major minus in the way and manner he relates with Muslims in the state. Fashola must hear this. Fashola must hear what the Muslims are saying about him. The Muslims say no governor has ever hurt Muslims the way he has done. He destroyed all the mosques in the government’s secretariat at Alausa despite protests by Muslims. The mosque he promised to build in order to placate the Muslims is yet to see the light of day. The Muslims say it was Fashola who introduced the anti-Islam policy of compulsory post mortem for corpses. Fashola it was whose commissioner for education told Muslims to go and build their own schools if they want their children to use hijab (though government later retracted this statement). They complain that Fashola hardly attend Islamic functions physically since assuming office seven years ago, unlike Christian events.
Perhaps it is high time Governor Raji Babatunde Fashola realized that he is no longer popular among mainstream Islamdom in Lagos. This has nothing to do with his political party but with his attitude to Muslims generally. Let him not be deceived by the obeisance being paid him by Muslim leaders in the state. We make bold to say there is a disconnect between the leadership and the grassroot Muslims in Lagos State.
An attempt to register the grievances of Lagos State Muslims in a civilized and non-violent manner failed woefully on Sunday 5th January, 2014 during a programme tagged ‘MUSLIMS PRAY’ held at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS). Some Muslim leaders present at the occasion ‘persuaded’ speakers not to mention any of the grievances. This was rather unfortunate and a great disservice to the governor. Even the two masters of ceremony at the TBS event chased us all over the podium to stop us from mentioning grievances of Lagos Muslims. The truth of the matter is that although some Muslim leaders have good rapport with the governor, they have not been telling him the truth. Instead, they have deceived him into believing that they can control the jama’ah so the governor should not worry about the rest of us who are paraded before him as ‘terrorists’, ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘extremists’.
MURIC is neither a terrorist organization nor an extremist group. Our motto is ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’ and we have always stood by this avowed philosophy. We also believe in peaceful coexistence. We see our Christian neighbours as fellow homo sapiens whose rights must be respected at all times. But we have a fault, namely, we always demand our legitimate rights albeit using constitutional means.
This is not intended to disparage Muslim leaders in the state. They are doing their best to ensure that there is peace in Lagos State and we appreciate and support this. But they are too eager to keep the governor’s ears from hearing that Muslims in the state have grievances. This is not in the best interest of the governor who, ceteris paribus, should know the exact situation in his domain at all times. We are all aware that Barrack Obama was once accused of being a secret Muslim due to his softness towards Arab nations. In the same vein, some Muslims are accusing the governor of being a secret Christian. While we know that Fashola is no more a Christian than Obama is a Muslim, care must be taken that the governor does not totally alienate Muslims in the state. It is for this reason that we now appeal through this medium, since we know no other means of reaching His Excellency.
Fashola must hear this: Ekiti State by circular No. EK/SSG/01/375 of 12th December, 2013 has permitted female Muslim pupils in public schools to use hijab. Governor Kayode Fayemi is a Christian and Muslims constitute only about 40% of the state’s population. Lagos has a Muslim governor. Lagos has a preponderant Muslim population. Yet the Muslim governor has not respected the Allah-given and fundamental rights of his fellow Muslims in the state in spite of several petitions. So we have a dilemma on our hands. Oshun State was the first to take this giant step into freedom. Muslim pupils in public schools now enjoy the comfort of hijab. Osun State also declared 1st Muharram as a public holiday and heaven did not fall.
Without being confrontational, we appeal to Governor Fashola to consider the demands of Muslims as demand for parity. Yes, we want parity. What is good for the goose is equally good for the gander. The governor is the father of all in the state. The Christians enjoy the luxury of using Christian school uniform. It is indubitable that the uniform imposed on Nigerians by Christian colonial masters is a Christian uniform and that is why Christians feel comfortable with it whereas Muslims want hijab. This demand is legitimate and constitutional. It should be granted if indeed we are practicing true democracy in this country. Democracy is about participation and inclusiveness. But Muslims are being excluded from the scheme of things in Lagos.
The governor recognizes Muslim leaders. Yes. But of what benefit is that individual recognition to the Muslim Ummah? We want institutional recognition, i.e. recognition for Islam and its culture which must translate into approval of the demands of Muslims in the state. That is what will benefit all Muslims in the state, not just the Muslim leaders. The governor will not want to be accused of adopting the tortuous policy of divide et impera.
Lest we be misunderstood, we support continued recognition for Christianity and the approval of demands of Christians (if any). What we are frowning against is a situation where Christians tell government not to approve the demands of Muslims. Christians already have all what they need. The Christian colonial masters bequeathed a legacy of Christian culture to Nigeria. This is why Christians hardly make demands. But justice and fairness demands that Nigerian governments should have reviewed the situation after independence to accommodate all religions. That would have made Nigeria a truly independent nation.
In essence we are saying that Christians can still ask for whatever they want, but they have no moral right, for whatever reason, to tell government not to listen to the Muslims. That will tantamount to acting the dog in the manger. It is all about the dividends of democracy. We Muslims want hijab as part of the spiritual dividend. We want government to stop the burning of corpses and put an end to autopsy on Muslim corpses. The governor’s promise to build a befitting mosque to placate Muslims for the mosques destroyed by him also needs to be fulfilled.
We have therefore come to Governor Fashola as children come to their father for their own share. If other children who have received their own portion should object to our demand, it behoves the father to caution them and let them realize that they had collected their own share. Our father should give us our own. It is our Allah-given and fundamental right and our right is our right. Only thus can justice be upheld. Only thus can social harmony be guaranteed. Fashola should set the Muslims free. Let the Muslims go.  
Finally, MURIC appeals to Governor Fashola to speedily address the hijab issue. What else should the Muslims do? Instead of taking the law into their hands, the Muslims of Lagos State (not the leaders, mind you) went to the courts to seek redress over the hijab imbroglio. Knowing fully well that it was going to lose the case, the government of Lagos State requested for out of court settlement and we are obliging but Lagos has since been procrastinating and the Muslim leaders in the state are conniving. It is very sad. All these notwithstanding, Muslims in the state will remain law abiding. It is our hope that Fashola will hearken to our tiding soonest otherwise we will meet again in court, to seek parity in equity, and our hands shall be clean. Eko o ni baje o.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern/MURIC)

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