Tuesday, July 18, 2017

PROTEST AGAINST BANIRE: A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT




19th July 2017
PRESS RELEASE:
PROTEST AGAINST BANIRE: A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT

Some supporters of the All Progressive Congress (APC) staged a protest in Lagos yesterday to demand the expulsion of the National Legal Adviser of the party, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN). The demand was premised on the latter’s recent condemnation of the imposition of candidates in the coming local government election in Lagos State.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) regards the protest as a dangerous precedent. As victims of a 16-year pillaging of the common wealth of the Nigerian people by the former ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), we are concerned that such internal wrangling is likely to open a window of opportunity for the PDP and its army of greedy, selfish and overtly corrupt politicians to stage a comeback.

It is natural for innocent onlookers who are watching the unfolding scenario to start feeling unsafe. Corruption drove Nigeria to the pitiable economic condition in which it found itself today and the PDP should be blamed for the country’s present woes. The present administration’s headlong attack on corrupt elements in the country gave hope to the masses but crisis in APC is beginning to becloud this sense of security moreso since the war against corruption is far from being over as new challenges rear their ugly heads on a daily basis.

APC leaders should borrow a leaf from its recent loss in Osun senatorial election where victory was snatched by opportunists whose major credential is dancing on their fathers’ grave. Charles Darwin’s wise words come in handy in these circumstances: “It is not the strongest of the species or the most intelligent that survives. It is the one most adaptable to change”


By calling for adherence to democratic principles as entrenched in the party’s constitution and demanding a stop to the imposition of candidates, Banire was merely performing his duty as the party’s legal adviser. The call for expulsion is therefore arbitrary. It should be ignored in the interest of the party and that of the Nigerian people at large.


We advise APC leadership at the national level to immediately set its reconciliation machinery in motion and to up its internal democracy game. At the local level, the leaders are advised to stoop to conquer. They should remember that the hawks are waiting by the ringside. We appeal to all stakeholders to sheath their swords in the interest of Nigeria. There is also no need to feel slighted as this will not diminish an inch from the greatness of the founding fathers of the party.


Banire represents the new generation politician and any attempt to expel him for defending noble principles of democracy will send the wrong signals to up and coming generation of politicians. While Banire may have fallen foul of Woodrow Wilson’s advice that, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something”, APC leadership should be wary of ignoring Hegel’s warning that history always repeats itself and Karl Marx’s rejoinder that the first repetition of history is a tragedy and the second, a farce.


We further advice that APC leadership should not see Banire as an enemy. Neither should it frown at his exposure of certain autocratic propensities within the party. Former President Goodluck Jonathan learnt too late that it is better to listen to complaints coming from within and he paid dearly for it.


According to Aristotle in his Analytics, “Opposition is true friendship. The man who tells you that you have a stinking rear is your friend. He is only drawing attention to your bodily filth and asking you to do something about it. He is better than a sycophant who says you can always come out of the sewage tank and smell roses!”


On a last note, we affirm that we are not interested in any political party. Our concern springs from genuine fear for a return to unbridled kleptomania, reckless spending and free descent into corruption without tears in Nigeria. MURIC’s advocacy is party-blind, ethnically neutral and religiously liberal. We are middle-roaders and social jihadists seeking food for hungry Nigerians, healing for the sick, clothing apparels for the naked and shelter for the homeless.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
President,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)


Sunday, July 16, 2017

WHO IS AFRAID OF RETIRED CHRISTIAN MILITARY GENERALS?



17th July 2017
PRESS RELEASE:
WHO IS AFRAID OF RETIRED CHRISTIAN MILITARY GENERALS?


Some retired military generals and Christian elders under the aegis of the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) declared on Thursday in Abuja that Nigeria was being Islamised. The retired generals included Theophilus Danjuma, Joshua Dogonyaro and Zamani Lekwot while Elder Solomon Asemota, Elder Moses Ihonde, Elder Shyngle Wigwe and Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife were among the elders.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) totally rejects this allegation. It is false, baseless, deceptive, malicious and provocative.


Using Christian and Islamic studies (CRK and IRK) which are in the current school curriculum as a launching pad for its tirades on Muslims in the country stands logic on its head because both Christian and Muslim leaders asked the Federal Government under ex-President Jonathan to make the two subjects compulsory for students who belong to their respective faiths.


However, we are not surprised at this latest development because Christian leaders are simply behaving to type. They have always been shouting wolves where there is none. Warnings against the ‘Islamisation’ of Nigeria is now an old song and nobody is interested any longer. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and its attack megaphones like NCEF are adept at subterfuge and their false alarms usually come after they might have committed an evil act. It is diversionary tactics.


Come to think of it. Why is the new false alarm coming just after the bloody massacre of an entire Fulani Muslim population in Taraba State? NCEF feels frustrated that its plot to Christianise Muslim children by using the old deceptive curriculum failed when government introduced a policy which grants religious freedom to all. What is wrong if government makes Christian Religious Knowledge compulsory for Christian students while Islamic Religious Knowledge is also made compulsory for Muslim students? How on earth does that translate to Islamising Nigeria?

NCEF is shouting blue murder because CAN’s plot of catching Muslim children as ‘fishes’ through a deceptive curriculum has been floored. It is a cardinal dogma of CAN that any child who lacks Christian moral training must end up as a social outcast and a burden on society. They therefore seek to compel Muslim children to take CRK and deny them the chance to study IRK. There is no gainsaying the fact that researchers have long agreed that the colonial master and later its ‘beloved son’ (CAN) used Western education as a tool of forceful conversion of Muslim children.


We must also call the attention of the Federal and State ministries of education to another grand plot of CAN which has been in operation for long. Teachers of IRK are being cleverly diverted to teach other subjects. Senior officials in the Ministry of Education who are Christians are made to compromise their positions. They conspire with CAN to neutralize teachers trained for IRK.


These teachers are not allowed to teach IRK when employed. They are threatened with dismissal and offered alternative subjects to secure their source of daily bread. Thus CAN creates scarcity of IRK teachers by diverting experts in the field to other subjects. On the other hand, Christian graduates of any subject under the sky are given juicy offers to drop their core areas to teach CRK. This is how our cunny neighbours who are now alleging Islamisation create scarcity by diversion for IRK but ensure proliferation by the same diversion for CRK parri passu.


Our claims are verifiable and we charge the Federal Ministry of Education in particular and the state ministries of education in the South West to launch an investigation into this. Many graduates of Islamic Studies who have been forcefully diverted to teach other subjects are ready to come forward. Those clamouring for restructuring have something interesting here. CAN has created a rot in the ministries of education all over the country and restructuring must start from there.


Besides, what is this idea of using former military generals to intimidate the country in an issue involving religion? When last did Muslims use their own generals to make noise? Must we flex military muscle over a civil matter? Why the emphasis on a statement “issued by retired military generals and Christian leaders”? Are the generals there to represent the Nigerian Army? To make what point? Who did this to CAN? The reference to war by the group is an admission that they are already making secret plans to wage war on Muslims. It must also be noted that the names of the army generals involved have been linked with one crisis or another in the past and this is the danger.


Otherwise why the assemblage of Christian war veterans in the form of army generals and why the need for the emphasis on the military elements in the group?  Why do Christian leaders always mobilize their army generals? This attitude is suggestive of subtle intimidation and coercion. Is there any connection between this surreptitious union and the South African money-for-arms scandal which involved an aircraft belonging to Ayo Oritsejafor, former CAN president? Also, can any sane mind rationalize the involvement of Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife in this group? How does he fit in for crying out loud? So how Northern is the Northern Christian Elders Forum?


We declare clearly, categorically and unequivocally that Nigerian Muslims are not in any way moved by this subtle threat. Who is afraid of the Northern Christian Elders Forum? Count Nigerian Muslims out. We get the message but we dismiss it as the usual ranting of incorrigibly belligerent neighbours. Our avowed role in this country as tutored by our leaders is to work for peace, to pray for progress and to search for the stability of the Nigerian nation.

  
Instead of utilizing precious times on hard work that will put bread on the tables of Nigerians, CAN leadership has misled Nigerian Christians into superfluous religiousity, leading to a situation where a large proportion of the Nigerian population spends 17 hours daily searching for an ever elusive and perpetually fictitious miracle.


Every Christian civil servant or businessman in Nigeria today is being indoctrinated and made to believe that not only must he become a pastor, he must also own a church, a situation which has led to unbearable noise pollution as churches spring up in the most unlikely places: tiny 2 x 2 shops with huge signboards and gargantuan loud speakers. Yet morality continues to sink to a very low ebb.


MURIC charges the Nigerian military to caution its retired Christian generals. They must desist from brandishing their expired medals in our faces. Something has gone terribly wrong with their pre-retirement briefings. We appeal to CAN to allow Nigerians to work together as compatriots and without religious bias. Only thus can we forge a truly genuine nation where rewards for citizens are based on potentials and performance rather than affiliation to a church, a mosque or a tribe. Allow merit to be the deciding factor.


Professor Ishaq Akintola,
President,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

NASS SHOULD LEARN FROM VENEZUELA AND OTHER COUNTRIES



10th July 2017
PRESS RELEASE:
NASS SHOULD LEARN FROM VENEZUELA AND OTHER COUNTRIES


The National Assembly (NASS) has been at loggerheads with the executive since the commencement of the Buhari-led administration on May 29, 2017. This has retarded normal running of government, delayed the approval of budgets on two occasions and slowed down other government-related activities.


Worse still, the executive-parliamentary faceoff appears rooted in their diametrically opposing approaches to the issue of corruption and how to tackle it. While the executive demonstrates unflinching determination to eliminate graft and punish looters, the legislature whose membership contains some law-makers who are facing corruption charges is not so keen. It is even on the verge of promulgating a law granting amnesty to looters of the nation’s treasury, a move widely believed to benefit some of its members.


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is deeply disturbed by this cat and mouse game between the executive and the legislature. From all indications, it appears that the eighth NASS was set up ab initio to frustrate the efforts of the Buhari regime in its fight against corruption.


Nigeria’s eighth legislature is embroiled in a litany of sins ranging from its alleged outrageous emoluments, tampering with budgets, rejection of government’s nominees, arm-twisting the executive over sundry issues thereby virtually railroading the government to bend over backwards to meet lawmakers’ frivolous demands.
 

Against the background of the threat issued by the NASS to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo who has been asked to sack Ibrahim Magu, head of the economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or face the consequences, we warn against any rash action.


Our message to the Nigerian lawmakers is loud and clear: touch the Acting President and face the wrath of the Nigerian people. We believe that the NASS is taking too much for granted. This law-making body should not invite anarchy. Nigerians are not really the fools they think they are.


Our legislators should learn from countries like Venezuela, Paraguay, Macedonia, Moldova, Iraq and Burkina Faso. These are six countries whose parliaments were attacked by patriotic citizens for adopting anti-people policies in the last three years. Just five days ago, precisely on Wednesday 5th July, 2017 in Venezuela, pro-Maduro groups stormed Caracas congress accusing the lawmakers of standing in the way of President Nicolas Maduro’s reform policies and programmes.


Also, for adopting an unacceptable amendment to the country’s constitution, Paraguayans invaded parliament on 1st April, 2017. The amendment would have allowed current President Horacio Cartes to be re-elected for another term. In the Balkans, the Macedonian congress at Skopje was invaded by supporters of President Zoran Zaev on 27th April 2017.

Last year, Moldovan parliament in Chisinau was also stormed on Wednesday 20th January 2016 by hundreds of demonstrators shouting ‘thieves!’ after parliament appointed a third prime minister within one year. Iraq’s protesters stormed parliament on 1st May, 2016 demanding an end to corruption.


Burkina Faso parliament in Ouagadougou was burned down on October 30, 2014 when demonstrators vent their anger over a proposal to extend President Blaise Compaore's 27-year rule. The storming of the parliament building marked the culmination of several days of demonstrations.


These scenarios can be replicated in Abuja. Members of the NASS should not be deceived by the elitist environment of Abuja which, unlike Lagos, Kano, or Enugu, makes mobilization difficult. Our lawmakers should know that it is not impossible for a determined citizenry. Neither should they underestimate the Nigerian electorate. Nigerian parliamentarians should not test our will. Nigerians are sick and tired with legislative oligarchy and parliamentary terrorism.


This eighth NASS is severely detached from the citizenry. We voted the present administration into office to fight corruption. We are disappointed that the NASS has become the recruitment sergeant for corruption and a weapon for harassing, coercing and intimidating the symbols of change and champions of accountability like President Muhammadu Buhari, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Babatunde Fashola, etc.


We can no longer stand akimbo watching lawmakers who are paid with our hard-earned money destroying the future of coming generation of Nigerians. We want to see looters in jail. We want our stolen money recovered. We want special courts to try these sophisticated kleptomaniacs. 


Although protests against parliaments in other countries in the examples cited above have been characterized by violence resulting in injuries inflicted on lawmakers as well as destruction of properties, MURIC advocates non-violent action like the occupation of the NASS and peaceful rallies and protests in state assemblies by placard carrying patriots. We know the hawks in the NASS will not succumb easily. Nigerians must therefore be ready for a prolonged struggle. We must be determined. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Dare to struggle, dare to win. There must be no retreat, no surrender.


Islamic liberation theological teachings enjoin citizens to stop evil doers and oppressors from perpetrating further evil (wa yanhawna ‘anil-munkar : Glorious Qur’an 3:104, 110; 31:17; 16:90). It warns that the wrongs committed by a few will sooner or later affect all if citizens do nothing (Qur’an 8:25) and that citizens must take necessary actions to effect change because Allah will not come down by Himself to change things for them (Qur’an 13:11). The hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) equally exhorts mankind to “hold the hands of evil doers” (ta’khudhuhu faoqa yadayhi).

As our concluding remarks, we remind Nigerians of the wise words of great men in history. Uthman Dan Fodio said, “In an unjust society, silence is a crime.” Dante Alighieri, an Italian Poet opined, “The hottest part of hell will be reserved for those who in times of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.” Lastly, Elie Wiesel fired man’s revolutionary instinct when he observed, "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."

We remain oppressed until the hungry are fed, the sick healed, the naked clothed and the homeless sheltered.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
President,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)