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,
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.
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
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Barrister Musoddiq Sanni,
Muslim Lawyers Association (MULAN)
Barrister Ishaq Adesina,
Supreme Council For Shariah in Nigeria
Alhaji Murtada A. Balogun
National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations (NACOMYO)