Tuesday, June 13, 2017


13th June 2017

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.

The 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 community.

We 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.

We 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.

We 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.

We 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 into refugees?  

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)

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