Thursday, June 1, 2017


1st June 2017

The 2017 camping exercise of the Nigerian Youth Service Corp (NYSC) commenced last week throughout the federation despite serious objections raised by the umbrella body of all Islamic organizations in the country, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA).

A similar objection raised last year led to an agreement between NYSC authorities and Muslim leaders that NYSC would not make further attempts to camp youth corpers during Ramadan in subsequent years. Although the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) contacted NYSC leadership a few weeks before the camping started after receiving complaints from prospective Muslim corpers, we were assured that all stakeholders had been consulted. But it is now clear that differences still exist.

MURIC is therefore disappointed with the recalcitrance of the NYSC leadership whose demeanor depicted gross disrespect for the opinion of the topmost echelon of the NSCIA. We affirm that the leader of all Nigerian Muslims is the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the NSCIA, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III. The Sultan has the inalienable right and non-abdicatable, undeniable responsibility in loco parentis to look after the welfare of Nigerian Muslims. You cannot treat Muslims with disdain and expect the Sultan to keep quiet.

The fact that the Sultan’s advice was ignored in this matter is rather unfortunate, nay preposterous and therefore unacceptable. It should never happen again. Whoever rebuffs the Sultan has rebuffed all Nigerian Muslims. Whoever disrespects our leader should not expect any cooperation from us. The Nigerian Muslim Ummah is no longer what it used to be. The old order has changed. The current leadership has taken us to the next level.

Without being aggressive or abusive, without issuing threats or heating up the polity, the new leadership of the past ten years has been able to reengineer the Muslim Ummah’s rank and file. We live and let live. We tolerate, forgive and love. Yet we still reject outright infringement on our Allah-given fundamental human rights and attempts to cause unnecessary discomfort to Muslims to the advantage of people of other faiths.

The fact that the current leadership of the NYSC is a Muslim is instructive in this case. The issue is not the faith of the agency instrumental to causing injury, stigma or discomfort to Muslims. We address issues, not sentiment or personality. It is a matter of principle. In fact a non-Muslim may be in that post tomorrow. Is it ideal to keep quiet now that our brother is there but to start shouting when a non-Muslim becomes the director general and he does the same thing? Islam is about justice and fairness.

That is why we are objecting to NYSC camping during this 2017 Ramadan in spite of the fact that the current leadership of the scheme is a fellow Muslim. That is objectivity. Nobody should express surprise tomorrow if we oppose a policy which we deem pernicious to Muslim interest under a non-Muslim chief executive in any agency. We will not oppose it because the chief executive is not a Muslim but because it is based on principle.

Nigerians must learn to do what is right at all times. We must be just to all. The Nigerian society must be egalitarian. Christian sensibilities bust be respected. Muslim interests and those of other faiths must be respected. In the interest of peace and harmony, Nigerian authorities must always take the nation’s religious and ethnic diversities into consideration. All anti-Muslim tabula rasa must therefore be revisited. Without issuing threats, we are constrained to reiterate that from now on, NIGERIAN MUSLIMS WILL TAKE EVERY CONSTITUTIONAL STEP NECESSARY TO STOP MUSLIM CORPERS FROM BEING CAMPED DURING RAMADAN.

As we round up, we remind NYSC leadership of the pledge made to MURIC leadership that adequate care will be taken of fasting Muslim corpers in the 2017 camps all over the country. We advise NYSC leadership to avoid picking controversial dates for its future camping exercises. We appeal to Muslim corpers who are currently in camp to be good ambassadors of Islam, to eschew all immoralities and to remain peaceful and law-abiding.  

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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