Wednesday, January 28, 2015
29th January, 2015
BUHARI’S CERTIFICATE SAGA:
DON’T MANIPULATE THE JUDICIARY
Chukwunweike Okafor , an Abuja-based lawyer and a senior partner at Emerald Attorneys & Solicitors, has approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking a special hearing to determine the eligibility or otherwise of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress [APC], Muhammadu Buhari, over his academic qualifications.
While we are aware of the provisions of Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act that allows a person that has reasonable grounds to believe that false information has been given by a candidate in his affidavit or document submitted to INEC, in support of his nomination form, to challenge the eligibility of the candidate, we have good reason to suspect that the complainant is acting under influence.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) suspects foul play in this development. Our suspicion is based on two grounds. The first is the desperate moves being made by the Federal Government to disqualify the APC presidential candidate. Nigerians were told that Buhari had no secondary school certificate until the candidate’s school principal released the result of his Cambridge examination. The principal received several death threats for this.
MURIC is also in possession of a statement allegedly issued by the National Secretary of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Mr. Isaiah Adetola, in which he alleged that the Federal Government was attempting to use the union as a political tool. Mr.
Adetola alleged that JUSUN was manipulated to go on strike in order to prevent the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court from pronouncing on the eligibility of President Jonathan to contest for a second term in office. According to the secretary, the same union is now being used to call off the strike in order to use the courts to scuttle the 2015 polls.
MURIC warns the Federal Government against manipulating the judiciary for the purpose of satisfying its whims and caprices. We also appeal to the judiciary not to allow itself to be used by desperate politicians.
Preparations for the 2015 general elections have gone too far and Nigerians are fully charged for the exercise. Expectations are very high on all sides and any careless intervention can lead to a general commotion.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Friday, January 23, 2015
23rd January, 2015
NO TO POSTPONEMENT OF 2015 POLL
The National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, yesterday called for the postponement of the February 2015 election. Dasuki made the call in the United Kingdom while speaking at the London think-tank Chatham House.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) rejects this diversionary and unpatriotic request. The whole idea of a possible postponement smacks of moral debauchery. We hinge our rejection on the following reasons:
1. any suggestion for a postponement coming from one party to the exclusion of others must be viewed with suspicion;
2. the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has not made such a request, instead, it has repeatedly given assurances of a hitch-free election;
3. any contemplation of postponement will send the wrong signals to the international community that Nigeria is yet to get it right;
4. postponement means additional cost as well as unimaginable logistic challenges nationwide;
5. delay is dangerous in a volatile nation like Nigeria where electoral violence is already on the rise and finally
6. postponement is a potential satanic motivation for actualizing the alleged plot for a military takeover by army officers who are allies of the ruling party or give advocatus diaboli both within and outside enough time for a grand conspiracy against our dear country.
With Sambo Dasuki’s call for a postponement of Nigeria’s general elections which is less than three weeks away, the National Security Adviser has donned the garb of a confusionist.
His call shows that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is in disarray. They have seen the handwriting on the wall. With excited mammoth crowds attending opposition rallies, with unenthusiastic rented crowds at the rallies of the ruling party, with party chieftains and their followers leaving the ruling party in droves at the eleventh hour, Dasuki is embarking on damage-control tactics. But it is too late. The ruling party has crossed the Rubicon.
The last nail in PDP’s coffin was the failure of the ruling party to discredit General Muhammadu Buhari of the All People’s Congress (APC), particularly over the certificate saga.
Sambo Dasuki’s excuse that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) needs more time to ensure all qualified Nigerians receive cards for the vote is lame, deceitful and untenable.
The electoral body has assured the nation times without number that all eligible voters will get their permanent voters’ cards (PVC) before the election. How can Dasuki know INEC more than INEC itself? We have no iota of doubt that Dasuki has a hidden agenda. This man is stalling.
MURIC strongly advises INEC to ignore Dasuki’s attempt at procrastination. We remind the electoral body that procrastination is the thief of time. We also remind INEC that it has a name to protect. Its honour is at stake and any attempt to compromise will rob the electoral body of its hard-earned integrity.
The ruling party’s time is up. This is why it is bent on stealing the nation’s time. Nigerians must jealously guard against this.
We advise President Jonathan to seek the path of honour and a soft landing out of Aso Rock. Seeking tenure extension through the backdoor is out of the question. It is an additional proof of cluelessness. True democrats allow vox populi via one man one vote. Tenure extension was first attempted during the National Conference but it was rejected. Now he is making another frantic effort to smuggle it into the electoral exercise.
Mr. President repeatedly assured Nigerians that 2015 election was sacrosanct. So why is he seeking a postponement? Nigerians cannot trust a president who will not walk his talk. It is a matter of integrity. We said it severally before that this president cannot organize a free and fair election.
A man who installed somebody who scored 16 as chairman of Governors Forum and persecuted the other who scored 19 cannot be expected to do better. We cannot expect fairness from a man who gave 203 to Christians and 189 to Muslims during the last National Conference. The words ‘fairness’, ‘justice’ and ‘equity’ are missing in Aso Rock’s vocabulary.
MURIC has a pertinent question to ask Jonathan. Mr. President, Sir, how can we believe in your campaign promises when you are already shifting the goal-post few days to the election?
The Glorious Qur’an commits mankind to the fulfillment of promises and leaders must take the lead. The Qur’an says, “Keep your promises” (Qur’an 17:34); “Keep pledges made before Allah” (Qur’an 16:91).
In the language which President Jonathan can fully understand, the Bible frowns upon failure to keep promises. Numbers 30:2 says, “When a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds from his mouth”.
In conclusion, MURIC charges President Jonathan to stand by his words and keep to the February 15 2015 date of the general elections. We advise INEC to ignore Sambo Dasuki’s request for a postponement. We call on the international community to keep an eye on President Jonathan as he plots to sabotage democracy.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Monday, January 19, 2015
20th January, 2015
WHO IS AFRAID OF 2015 POLL?
As Nigeria approaches the 2015 general elections which will kickstart on 14th February, the horizon remains cloudy as booby traps and mines are being laid on a daily basis in the path of the exercise.
For instance, the idea of exempting North Eastern Nigeria from the exercise is being muted in certain quarters. Also being contemplated is the possible postponement of the whole general election and setting up an interim government.
Some have allegedly considered a phantom coup to be staged by military elements loyal to the establishment. The academic certificates of General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) have also become an issue as the ruling party insists that he must be disqualified. There are also one or two cases challenging the eligibility of the incumbent, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) warns overzealous politicians and all those behind these conspiracies to come back to their senses. We assert that none of the above configurations favours a progressive Nigeria.
Exempting the North East from elections because of the Boko Haram saga will send the wrong signals to the outside world. It will also be interpreted as victory for the insurgents.
Nigeria must not surrender so easily. What we need is the political will to hold elections in the troubled zone and to call the bluff of the trouble makers. Other crisis-ridden areas of the world have done it. Elections have been successfully held in Iraq several times in spite of the prolonged war. Afghanistan and Pakistan have also dared the Taliban and held elections.
People in the North East should not be so callously disenfranchised. Whoever has been basing his chances of victory at the 2015 polls on prolonging crisis in the region must be taught a lesson. The surviving population must be allowed to cast its protest vote.
Postponing this coming election is out of the question. Such postponement will be an unprecedented act of cowardice. Who is afraid of the 2015 polls? The Federal Government must not renege on its pledge to the Nigerian people. The law of the land must be obeyed. Election is the only universally recognized tool for peaceful change in a democracy.
Those who contemplate or plot a temporary return of the military are building castles in the air. Military rule or intervention is no longer fashionable anywhere in the world. It is even an anachronism in the Nigerian context. Nigerians want change, smooth change via free and fair election.
They are thirsty for the juice of liberty after six years of stagnation, institutionalized corruption, inept leadership and undisguised hatred for certain sections of the population.
MURIC finds the attempt to disqualify General Buhari (rtd) as mean, ludicrous, infantile and wholesomely malicious. This is the general’s fourth coming. Was there any time he contested past elections without being cleared by the electoral body? What is this noise about Buhari’s certificate? Is an army general not on a very high academic pedestal?
Why is the Nigerian Army not clearing the air on this issue? Is the army aware that this can ricochet? Are we ready to impugn the integrity of our army generals after fighting for the country and after serving us in different capacities? This will go beyond Buhari if the Nigerian Army is not forthcoming. What goes round comes around. It will expose to ridicule any general who wants to contest an election in future. Or is this how we should treat our war heroes?
By the way, how can the spokesperson of a political party call an army general an illiterate and the army remain silent? This is a pertinent question. Do we have illiterates among our army generals? The Nigerian Army has a duty to answer this question. Nigerians are waiting.
We put it to the ruling party that it is too desperate. After sixteen years in power, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) propaganda machinery has gone senile. The ruling party is nervous and we will like to recommend an hourly checkup of its blood pressure until the elections are over.
Nigerians deserve a ruling party that has level-headed, principled, tested and trusted men and women on the driving seat. Neither will the attention of the Nigerian electorate be distracted by this pettiness. Nigerians are rooting for integrity and credibility, not for empty certificates.
MURIC is not surprised by the poverty of principle in the ruling party’s campaign camp since the party chose somebody who is still facing corruption charges as its director of media and publicity. A serious political party deserves better.
By the same token, those who are still pursuing court cases seeking to stop President Jonathan from contesting the 2015 presidential election are creating clogs in the wheel of progress. Nigerians must be pragmatic. This is not the time to stop any of the candidates, particularly if we want peace to reign. We should allow sleeping dogs to lie.
In conclusion, MURIC appeals to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remain focused. INEC is doing a good job and the electoral body should be wary of disqualifying any candidate at this stage in order to avoid plunging the nation into crisis.
We call on all stakeholders to stop creating unnecessary impediments in the path of this coming election. We advise the military to remain professional and to resist the temptation to intervene in the political process. The Nigerian Army is also advised to be more vocal on the issue of Buhari’s certificate in order to save other generals (serving or retired) from ridicule.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Saturday, January 3, 2015
4th January, 2015
2015 POLL: DON’T HEAT UP THE POLITY
The Nigerian political arena became tense in the last week of year 2014 as both the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Army issued terse warnings to politicians to watch their utterances. To cap the edifice, President Jonathan also flashed the yellow card threatening to deal with trouble-makers in 2015. Sequel to the warnings, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, a key opposition figure and spokesman of the All People’s Congress (APC), raised the alarm that security agents were making moves to arrest him.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) wishes to caution the major dramatis personae (the Presidency, the ruling party, the opposition, the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police) on the need to observe decorum, adopt civilized behavior, respect the rule of law and strictly adhere to the principles of democracy. These are the only ways to avoid throwing Nigeria into chaos before, during and after the 2015 general elections.
The Nigerian Police is reminded that it belongs to the Nigerian people and not to any political party. We frown upon ugly incidents in the past in which the police stood akimbo as hooligans attacked members of the opposition or acts of connivance in which policemen protected members of the ruling party as they commited acts of impunity. The only way the Nigerian Police can build confidence in the people is not only by remaining neutral but by being seen to be transparently impartial.
In particular, we warn the Nigerian Police and other security agencies not to toy with the idea of arresting or detaining members of the opposition on flimsy excuses and trumped-up charges. The arrest of Alhaji Lai Muhammed during the Osun State gubernatorial election was in bad taste. It was an assault on free speech.
The arrest of the spokesperson of the opposition implies the gagging of the opposition. That is the road to perdition, dictatorship and totalitarianism. It must never happen again. Nigerians are restless at the moment and the whole country can be likened to the hen which perches on a rope: neither the rope nor the hen can be stable. It was the intimidation of the opposition members by law enforcement agencies which brought down the First and Second Republics.
Members of the opposition are also cautioned to remember we have no other country besides Nigeria. What matters is our dear country, Nigeria. Efforts aimed at securing change of leadership and political control must therefore be made with due regard for maintaining peaceful coexistence, law and order. The opposition should refrain from character assassination or do or die politics. Nigerians cannot be fooled by those who build castles in the air. The opposition will be held accountable for promises made to Nigerians.
MURIC appeals to the Nigerian Army to stay out of politics. This is the only way to retain its integrity. Politicking is unprofessional for any military institution and the Nigerian Army should not be portrayed as the military wing of the ruling party. In addition, involvement of the Nigerian military will be an unnecessary and debilitating distraction in the war against insurgents.
We take exception to the Presidency’s warning to deal with trouble-makers in 2015. By tying 2015 as a specific date to his warning, the Presidency has turned on the red signal regarding the 2015 elections. This is an unnecessary tension-rousing statement and it has already started creating tension in the political circle.
MURIC requests clarification from Mr. President: who are the trouble-makers? Is it members of other political parties who have legitimate cause to issue statements to the general public or members of Boko Haram who are detonating bombs, killing and maiming innocent Nigerians?
We advise President Jonathan to develop the stomach for opposing ideas and criticism as these constitute the mirror through which a true leader can see himself, assess and improve upon his own performance. Mr. President must bravely face the truth and start seeing his critics as his best friends. On the contrary, Nigeria’s leader must beware of sycophants and praise-singers because such people are faulty barometers for feeling the pulse of society.
President Jonathan recently said that Nigerians would praise him after leaving office. We disagree with this pattern of assessing leaders. A leader’s assessment sheet is always there long before he leaves office. He sees both the accolades and the condemnations while still in office. Mr. President himself recently admitted that he often received good and bad pieces of advice. We counsel the president to critically and objectively separate the wheat from the chaff at all times.
Finally, MURIC charges opposition parties not to be intimidated by the threat to deal with trouble-makers. They must not relent in their resolve to strengthen democracy in the country, to promote free speech and to liberate the jamaaheer (poor masses). We appeal to the rest of civil society to rise to the occasion as Nigeria crawls towards the 2015 polls.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)