This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
National Assembly (NASS) reportedly reduced money allocated to some key
projects and reallocated the money to their own constituency projects.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
condemns this development in strong terms. It amounts to sabotage and an act of
impunity. It is outrageous. It is legislative terrorism.
We note in particular that although the budget was presented as
far back as December 14, 2016, NASS did not approve it until May 11, 2017 (six
months later). The budget of year 2000 was approved on January 20, 2000. That
of 2001 was approved in November 2000 while 2004 budget was approved in
November 2003. In 2013, the budget was approved on November 20 of the previous
six month delay in the 2017 budget is therefore curious. Such procrastination
further cements the suspicion in the minds of Nigerians that the NASS is out to
frustrate the good efforts of the present administration to make life more
abundant for the jamaheer (masses). It tantamounts to armtwisting the
executive. We recall the hostile
disposition of the NASS to the interests of the executive since the inception
of this administration. Nominees were rejected without tangible casus belli.
Nerves were frayed. It has been a cat and mouse game ab initio to date.
While we are not opposed to the idea of members of the NASS
pursuing their constituency projects, we find it disturbing that they will go
as far as reducing money allocated to key projects to meet this objective. It
should be the other way round if indeed members of the NASS have the interest
of Nigeria at heart.
It beats us hollow
to find lawmakers tampering with a project of momentous national significance
like the Lagos-Ibadan expressway knowing fully well that this is the only and
most important link road between the South West, the South East and the North. It
is shocking, unbelievable and nauseating.
unnerving is the reduction of money allocated to Bodo-Bonny road and
Kano-Maiduguri road. Considering the fact that these projects had suffered long
neglect by previous administration, we wonder if the NASS wants this
administration to perform at all. NASS seems more interested in portraying the
Federal Government as indolent as the immediate past administration.
By the way, isn’t the insertion of items
not under the exclusive or concurrent list interesting afterthoughts? Ministers
defended all the items listed under their ministries, who defends items
inserted by members of the NASS? Is it a committee of the NASS? How transparent
is such a process? Does it not look like rub my back I rub your back? How truly
accountable can that be? These insertions are very suspicious.
It is our considered opinion that NASS should make its
constituency projects or any such items public even before budget presentation
so that it would have been known to the executive as well as the general
public. Every member of the NASS who has a constituency project should also
defend it before a neutral committee set up by the NASS but made up of credible
Before rounding up, MURIC charges members of the civil society
to show keen interest in NASS’s constituency projects, particularly the items
inserted in the 2017 budget with a view to monitoring them and holding the
authors accountable at the appropriate time.
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
The month of Ramadan is gradually
grinding to a halt and Nigerian Muslims are warming up to join fellow faithfuls
across the globe in marking Id al-Fitr.
The Muslim Rights
Concern (MURIC) felicitates with the head of all Nigerian Muslims, the Sultan
of Sokoto and President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic
Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa‘ad Abubakar III, all heads ofIslamic organizations in the country and the
Nigerian people in general.
We seize the
opportunity of the successful completion of Ramadan to show our appreciation to
the Federal Government (FG) for identifying with the Nigerian people in their
hour of need. In particular, we note with pleasure that FG has kept its promise
on the provision of jobs and stipends for the youths through the introduction
of N-Power from which about 200,000 youths have benefitted and are receiving
Equally gratifying is the
revelation that about 1,051,000 pupils are now benefitting from the Home Grown
School Feeding programme (HGSFP) in 8,587 schools in seven states across the
country. No less reassuring is the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme
from which 26,942 poor Nigerians have been receiving N5,000 monthly stipend.
While we applaud these humanitarian and welfaristic
programmes, we call FG’s attention to the plight of senior citizens throughout
Nigeria. These are elderly and retired men and women who have devoted the most
productive part of their lives to serve this country. They should not be
treated like ordinary oranges whose delicious juice is squeezed and sucked
while the useless peel is thrown away.
We call for a special welfare package for senior citizens
from the age of sixty (60) and above in the following areas:
1.One free meal per day;
2.Special free buses
at designated places and times and
SET THE 54
MURIC is sending a special appeal to the Acting President,
Professor Yemi Osinbajo to set the 54 soldiers free. These were soldiers whose insistence
on the supply of effective weapons to fight Boko Haram insurgents sparked off
the $2.1 billion arms investigation. They have been languishing in jail for the
past two years for exposing a fraud of monumental proportion in the army.
They are different
from the twelve (12) soldiers who fired shots at their commander. FG must
separate the wheat from the chaff. We must not treat heroes like rebels and
Finally, we appeal to Nigerians,
particularly those who have just completed the Ramadan fasting, to continue to
pray for the quick recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari and our dear country
Nigeria with peace, unity and prosperity as prayer points.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
This year’s hajj fare of N1.5
million announced by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has been
generating ripples. Prospective pilgrims have wondered why the fare is higher
than that of 2016. They have therefore called for a reduction. Other
stakeholders have called on the Federal Government (FG) to subsidise hajj fare.
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) considers the ensuing controversy unnecessary,
uncalled for and a sheer waste of saliva and misuse of calories. The suspicion,
distrust and allegations leveled at NAHCON are equally products of
reveal that 98% of the services rendered by NAHCON in Saudi Arabia are determined
in US dollars. Although 2016 official exchange rate was N197, recession and the
attendant fall of the naira forced 2017 official exchange rate to N305. Whereas
a pilgrim needed just $4,003 in 2016, his need in 2017 has risen to $4,805.
Now, if we multiply
$4,805 by N305, what we will get is N1,465,525 (approximately N1.5m). This is
why NAHCON has pegged the 2017 hajj fare at N1.5 million. Further investigation
has also revealed that air ticket from the North is $1,600 while that of the
South is $1,700. Furthermore, the cost of accommodation in Makkah is $933 while
that of Madina is $430. These are easily verifiable.
MURIC opposes further subsidy for hajj this year for three
reasons. Firstly, FG has already subsidized 2017 hajj because the official
exchange rate is N368 whereas FG allowed N305. Pilgrims would have had to pay N1,768,240
(approximately N1.8m) at the prevailing bank rate of N368 per dollar if FG had
not subsidized at all.
Secondly, Nigeria is in recession and Nigerian Muslims must
be prepared to make sacrifices as government cannot afford to play the prodigal
son at a time like this. About N34b would be needed to subsidise if pilgrims
were to enjoy the 2016 rate of N197 per dollar but this cannot be rationalized in
the face of the current recession.
Thirdly, every special concession granted to Muslims is
most likely to become a subject of controversy as Christian groups are most
likely to challenge FG for taking such an action. We must take the diverse
character of our country into consideration at all times.
It is clear from the
above details that it is highly naïve to blame NAHCON for the increase in hajj
fare. Neither can FG or the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) be blamed. The major
correlate which determines hajj fare is the exchange rate.
The options before us,
therefore, are: one, to ask the National Assembly (NASS) to wade in and lobby
for more concession; two, to appeal to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to
intervene executively and secure a reduction for Muslim pilgrims and, three, to
enlighten prospective Muslim pilgrims and face the reality. The state of the
nation’s economy has automatically knocked off the first two options and unless
we want to rely on primordial sentiments, option number three seems the best in
the present circumstance.
MURIC is therefore constrained to drum the doctrine of manistata‘a
ilayhis-sabiil into the medulla oblongata of 2017 intending pilgrims in
particular and all Muslim faithfuls in general (manistata‘a ilayhis-sabiil means
hajj is for Muslims who have the means). This means hajj is not mandatory on
those who do not have the money to perform it but it becomes compulsory once a
Muslim has the means. But does a Muslim who has the money to perform hajj need
government’s subsidy or sponsorship? The answer is capital ‘NO’.
A radical interpretation of the doctrine of manistata‘a
ilayhis-sabiil will render borrowing from other sources to perform hajj or
compelling government to subsidise the cost of hajj absolutely unnecessary. However,
subsidies and outright sponsorship of citizens on hajj may be rationalized in
an Islamic Republic but Nigeria is not one.
Nigeria has always
been among countries with the largest number of pilgrims in Saudi Arabia every
year. Of more than 2 million Muslims from 183 countries who performed hajj in
2016, Nigeria had 76,000. But how many out of this number contribute anything
to the growth, development and welfare of the Ummah back home?
That is why we want FG
to hands off hajj affairs in Nigeria. FG must allow the Muslim Ummah to
determine its own destiny. If Muslims are to succeed in becoming owners of Islamic
schools, universities, hospitals, libraries, halal hotels and other halal
investments, every intending pilgrim must be compelled to pay a particular
amount to the coffers of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs
(NSCIA) before they leave for hajj. Those going for ‘Umrah should pay something
MURIC reiterates the need for FG and state governments to
stop sponsoring Muslims on hajj. It is counterproductive because it has been
abused severally. Politicians have hijacked it. They sponsor political thugs,
hoodlums, riffraffs, mistresses and prostitutes who may not even be Muslims.
This category of ‘pilgrims’ become recalcitrant in Saudi Arabia. Some members
of the National Assembly also abuse it by seizing those priviledges meant for
hajj officials. This practice should cease forthwith as MURIC is poised to
monitor the procedure with the aim of identifying NASS members who engage in
this immodest behavior. Enough is enough.
As we round up, we reaffirm
our belief that it is time to correct misconceptions about hajj among Muslims. Hajj
is once in a lifetime but we ignore this principle and rush to Saudi Arabia
almost every year. ‘Umrah (lesser hajj) is not compulsory but we force it on
ourselves as an annual ritual. We must open a new leaf. Gone are the days when
anything goes. We must do what is right at all times.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
There has been palpable tension in
Nigeria in the past week as regional separatist groups issue threats and
eviction orders. Reacting to vituperations, insults, abuses and hate speeches emanating
from the Nnamdi Kanu group particularly on Radio Biafra, Arewa youths issued a
90-day quit notice to Igbos residing in the North.
Although Governor Nasir El-Rufai of
Kaduna State quickly issued an arrest order on the leaders of the Arewa youths,
IPOB leaders reacted by ordering Igbo people to immediately embark on an exodus
out of the North. A similar quit notice issued by a Yoruba group to the Igbos
was quickly countered by another Yoruba group.
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) regards these ugly developments as ominous signs.
We condemn all quit notices issued by separatist groups to their fellow
Nigerians of other ethnic groups. It is rash, parochial and unpatriotic.
However, we commend Governor Nasir
El-Rufai of Kaduna State for his proactive directive issued to protect Igbos
living in his domain. Also worthy of commendation is the Inspector General of Police
who issued orders for the arrest of Arewa youths behind the issuance of quit
notice to Igbos in the North. In the same vein, the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji
Abdul Mumin Kabir who pledged to protect Igbos with the last drop of his blood,
deserves encomiums not only from Nigerians but also from the international
appeal to other emirs in the North to follow the example of the Emir of
Katsina. Other efforts aimed at dousing tension should also be embarked upon.
Imams throughout Nigeria but with emphasis on the North should preach the golden
ideals of peace and unity on the minbar every Friday while Christian clerics do
the same on the pulpits every Sunday.
While the visit of the leader of the
Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Ralph
Uwazuruke, to Kaduna for a dialogue with Northern leaders facilitated by
Al-Mustapha is heartwarming, the silence of governors of the Eastern states is
disturbing. We expect governors and traditional rulers from that axis to be
more proactive. Statements similar to those issued by the governor of Kaduna
State and the Emir of Katsina will go a long way in dousing tension nationwide.
Governors and traditional rulers in the South West should do the same thing.
invite Nigerians to be wary of being used by looters and disgruntled politicians
who, having been frustrated by the altruistic, business-like and
result-oriented actions of the present administration, are bent on plunging the
nation into war. We remind discerning citizens of the serial threats publicly issued
by certain people to the effect that they would destroy Nigeria if ex-President
Goodluck Jonathan did not win the 2015 presidential election. Only a people
suffering from collective amnesia will allow such threats to become a reality.
While we acknowledge the progress
being made by the Federal Government (FG) in ensuring the security of lives and
properties (e.g. Boko Haram has been technically defeated); creating jobs for
the teeming army of unemployed youths (e.g. N-Power programme); plugging
loopholes through which looters steal our common patrimony (e.g. introduction
of the Single Treasury Account and the ongoing war against corruption) and
addressing the complaints of regions and ethnic groups (e.g. the commencement
of the dredging of the Niger and the cleaning of environmentally devastated
Ogoniland) we urge FG to accelerate its social welfare packages some of which
are already manifesting encouraging results and address other perceived cases
of marginalization of certain sections.
The above efforts being made by FG speak
eloquently of its acceptance of the ideals of restructuring. In our opinion,
restructuring is synonymous with good governance. We are restructuring if
projects long abandoned in certain sections of the country are given attention,
if new reform bills are being introduced and signed into law and if the general
welfare of the Nigerian people is being addressed.
MURIC appeals to the Fouth Estate of
the realm to play a proactive, mature and responsible role in ensuring peace
and unity in the country. We advise both the print and electronic media to
downplay divisive utterances and hate messages. The press should not forget
that as a crucial partner in governance, it has a duty to join hands with the
government in building a stable, secure and progressive society.
appeal to Nigerians generally to have a change of mindset. We must think
positively about our great country. Balkanisation is not the answer. Neither is
war a better alternative. War does not determine who is right, it only reveals
who is left at the end. Those who started it can never be sure how it will end.
Nigeria lost one million people in the Civil War of 1967 – 1970.
should remember Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia. 800,000 people died in Rwanda.
Sierra Leone lost 500,000. The toll in Liberia’s
first war was 600,000. The second war recorded a casualty figure of 200,000.
Those are small countries with limited population. Nigeria’s population hit 193
million by December 2016. Which country can contain us if we turn ourselves
Finally, we call on the security
agencies nationwide to be on alert and to nip in the bud any attempt at
disturbing the peace. We all need each other.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)