Sunday, April 22, 2018

YOUTHS COMMENT: BUHARI HAS NOT SAID ANYTHING NEW


23rd April, 2018

PRESS RELEASE:
YOUTHS COMMENT: BUHARI HAS NOT SAID ANYTHING NEW


The media recently descended on President Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly describing Nigerian youths as lazy in a London roundtable.     


Although the media deliberately twisted Buhari’s statement as he did not use the word ‘lazy’ in his speech, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) contends that the president’s description of the Nigerian situation regarding its youths was apt, precise and succinct.


Nigerians need to contextualize the president’s comment. We have seen many youths functioning as political thugs as the 2019 general elections approach. They have started vandalizing properties and disrupting political gatherings. Can anybody tell us that those political thugs are old men?


What of the herdsmen who are terrorizing innocent farmers around the country? Are they not young people? Are they not lazy? Are the kidnappers who make life unbearable for innocent people not lazy? But are they not youths? Has anyone seen elderly people among Boko Haram insurgents and Niger Delta militants? What of the ‘area boys’ syndrome and the al-majiri phenomenon? Are the Yahoo Yahoo boys not of the same age bracket? Are they not all lazy?


What of the ‘agberos’ or touts who have now spilled out of motor parks unto the streets and bus stops? What responsible work are they doing? Are they not youths? What do they contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? All they do is to stand at the bus stops to extort money from drivers of commercial vehicles. Are they not lazy? When will Nigerians admit this reality? Who pulled the wool over our faces?


The problem with Nigerians is that they always run away from reality. Not known for verbosity, our president has hit the nail on the head. Many of our youths are lazy but we don’t want to admit it. Instead of commending this truthful leader, we started calling him names.

Collective amnesia appears to have gripped Nigerians. We have forgotten that Buhari is not the only leader who described Nigerians and the youth in particular in this manner. Governor Dickson in a media chat on 17th May, 2016 was alleged to have said, "Bayelsans are so lazy, they want everything free, they don't want to work".


The 25th September 2017 edition of a northern-based newspaper also reportedly quoted Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as saying, "Northerners are lazy" while General Babangida (rtd) allegedly opined during a BBC Hausa service interview of 16th April, 2010, "The Nigerian youth is useless, cannot lead." Senator Shehu Sani added flavour to this in December 2017 when he reportedly said "Northerners are lazy and unproductive".


During the launching of a book written by Chief Gani Fawehinmi in 1974, Chief Obafemi Awolowo complained that, “The trouble with many of our youths is that they sleep too much; play too much; and indulge too much in idle chatter and gossip.”


If indeed the above were the views of a governor from the South South, a leader from the South West, a former military president, an ex-vice president and a distinguished senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, all of whom are from the North, it stands to reason that Buhari has not said anything new. Neither is this pragmatic assessment of citizens by their leaders limited to Nigeria. During a town hall event overseas, ex-President Barrack Obama referred to Americans as lazy.


Islam abhors idleness and laziness. It appreciates the dignity of labour. The Glorious Qur’an implores every man to work hard, “Tell them to work. (If they do) Allah, His Messenger and the believers (citizens) will appreciate their work” (Qur’an 9:105).  


To round up, we invite Nigerian politicians to brace up for a new political culture of probity, accountability and pragmatism. We call on the youths to abandon the counter-productive race for emergency wealth, to shun betting and to concentrate on education, training and hardwork. We charge parents to inculcate core values of honesty, dignity and diligence in their offsprings.


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

Monday, April 16, 2018

JONATHAN’S N100 NOTE: NIGERIA’S WORST CURRENCY


17th April, 2018

PRESS RELEASE:
JONATHAN’S N100 NOTE: NIGERIA’S WORST CURRENCY


The administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan officially issued the N100 commemorative centenary banknote on 19th December, 2014. A major feature of that banknote was the removal of Arabic Ajami.


Nigerians consider Jonathan’s N100 note inferior to others printed earlier. It is of very low quality. It tears easily. It lacks second hand value. It grows soft and fragile with time, thereby making it difficult to handle or fold in people’s pockets or wallets. It has therefore failed as a veritable means of exchange. Placed side by side with the old N100 note which still has the Arabic Ajami inscription and which is still in circulation, Jonathan’s N100 shrinks into oblivion.


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is constrained to affirm that Jonathan’s N100 note is a fiscal embarrassment, a huge disappointment and a colossal waste of the nation’s scarce resources. Three and a half years on, Jonathan’s N100 note has qualified for the worst banknote ever printed in Nigeria. It is a national disgrace. This banknote should be withdrawn from circulation.


It is not too difficult to guess what went wrong. Jonathan was blinded by his anti-Arabic sentiment that he ignored quality control measures. His only concern was to implement the hate agenda of a few anti-Muslim elements who are bent on eliminating all vestiges of Islam from the Nigerian environment.


It was not the first time this would happen. Arabic inscriptions which have always been on Nigerian currency since independence were unceremoniously removed in 2005 from N5, N10, N20 and N50 denominations during the reign of Olusegun Obasanjo. It must be noted that there has been surreptitious pressure from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the removal of Arabic from the naira.


But Nigerians need to know that this move was calculated to hurt the Muslim population and may end up as a disservice to the nation. The average Northerner cannot read any other script except in Arabic Ajami and anyone who wants to communicate with him effectively must use the Ajami, not even writings in Hausa language can help in this matter. Millions of Northerners have therefore been marginalized by removing the Arabic Ajami from Jonathan’s poor quality N100 note and Obasanjo’s N5, N10, N20 and N50 denominations.


The removal of Arabic Ajami is being interpreted as an attempt to discourage the learning and use of Arabic language which is the language of the Glorious Qur’an. It is a sensitive religious matter. Nobody can do this in Nigeria and expect the Muslims to organize a carnival for him. But as usual, our leaders manifest the noun ‘deaf’ and the verb ‘to ignore’.


MURIC complained in 2005 when Obasanjo removed Arabic Ajami from new naira notes. The fact that Jonathan repeated the same thing has raised concern among Muslims. Why does Arabic always become the victim any time a Christian becomes president? It means that there is a conspiracy to gradually and tactically eliminate Arabic Ajami. It is only logical to expect the removal of Arabic from other notes when another Christian becomes president.


‘When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightening and rain?’ When will these conspirators descend on the remaining notes which still has Arabic Ajami on them: N100, N200, N500 and N1,000? Should we expect the removal of Arabic Ajami from these remaining denominations when another Christian becomes president? Is it ‘when the hullybully is done and gone?’ Or is it ‘when the battle is lost and won?’ It looks very much like an agendum continuum.


Currencies worldwide are designed to suit each nation’s culture and history. Incidentally, Nigeria is a multireligious entity. In this case, therefore, our cultural and religious homogeneity should be the criteria, particularly when designing our banknotes, our stamps, etc.


But these two Christian presidents (Obasanjo and Jonathan) failed in this onerous task. They retained the English letters which symbolize Christianity and removed the Arabic Ajami which stands for Islam. It is simply bad leadership. They allowed sectional interests to override their avowed neutrality. What else is ethnic cleansing? We are all tax payers and to that extent we all deserve representation.


For the avoidance of doubt, we as Muslims are ready and willing to peacefully coexist with our Christian neighbours, but on equal terms. It must be with the proviso:  ‘live and let live’. No more, no less. We believe that the religion of the president is of little consequence so long as he is fair to all. We will always address issues, not primordial sentiments and, by the way, our Arabic is very dear to us. It is tangential, not peripheral.  


In conclusion, MURIC demands the withdrawal of Jonathan’s N100 note from circulation and the reinstatement of Arabic Ajami on N200, N500 and N1,000 denominations. We affirm that Jonathan’s N100 note was a scam. We therefore call for a probe. We warn against any attempt by any future Nigerian leader to remove Arabic Ajami from the few remaining denominations. We will not hesitate to deploy every constitutional means at our disposal to stop such an attempt now or in future.


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

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

MURIC CONDEMNS ATTACK ON ATIKU’S CAMPAIGN OFFICE


10th April, 2018

PRESS RELEASE:
MURIC CONDEMNS ATTACK ON ATIKU’S CAMPAIGN OFFICE


Hoodlums have reportedly attacked the Katsina State campaign office of ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The attack which took place on Saturday, 7th April, 2018 targeted Atiku’s campaign office on Dandagoro road, Batagarawa Local Government Area of the state. Although no life was lost during the attack, windscreens, side mirrors and bodies of vehicles parked within the premises of the campaign office were damaged.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly denounces this wanton destruction of opposition property. It is shocking, retrogressive, counter-productive, barbaric and satanic.

Political violence belongs to the Stone Age. We expect that Nigerians should have risen above such backwardness. This is why we are disappointed that Nigerians once again are revisiting this archaic political culture. Does it mean we lack any iota of civilization? Are we so politically na├»ve that we still believe that violence is capable of stopping anyone’s political ambition? It was political violence which led to the first military coup in Nigeria. Are we so forgetful?

We remind youths to eschew violence. The children of political leaders are either in Britain, Canada or the United States. Few of them keep their children in Nigeria. Their children attend foreign schools. None of them allows his children to join political rallies. Their children do not wear party T-shirts or caps. They don’t wave party flags. Our young ones should stop being stupid. They should grow up and learn. They should stop doing the dirty works of politicians. The hooligans of today cannot be the leaders of tomorrow. Those who employ you as thugs will never give you enough money to take you to the next level.

How much were the thugs paid to attack Atiku’s campaign office? Is it enough to pay their house rent? Is it enough to start a business? Is it enough to feed for one week? Is it enough to pay their children’s school fees? All they could be given is a paltry sum like N5,000. But they will also supply them with weapons and drugs. Are the youth so blind that they don’t know that whoever gives them weapons and drugs is out to destroy them?

Is that weapon a degree certificate? Is that drug the key to a new building or a new car? Can that politician give his own children the same weapons to go on rampage? Can he allow his own children to follow the thugs on that dangerous assignment? Why should the children of the poor function as thugs while children of the rich and powerful ride Ferrari and Lambogini in foreign countries? Who did this to Nigerian youths?

MURIC charges the Nigerian Police to fish out the perpetrators of this wanton destruction. The culprits must be dealt with according to the law. We urge Nigerian youths to distance themselves from politicians who wish to use them for violence. They will use them now and dump them after the elections. We call on parents to sermonise their young children.

As we round up, we suggest that any political party linked to violence should be suspended for three consecutive elections in the local government where the violence occurred while politicians who sponsor violence should be barred from holding any public post after the election. Apart from that, such a politician should be arrested and prosecuted. We warn those behind the attack to stop forthwith. Nigeria will not earn the respect of the international community as long as we engage in political violence.

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

Monday, April 9, 2018

STOP DEFENDING LOOTERS FOR PRIMORDIAL REASONS


9th April, 2018

PRESS RELEASE:
STOP DEFENDING LOOTERS FOR PRIMORDIAL REASONS


The pan-Igbo socio cultural group, Ohaneze Ndigbo, has defended Chief Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President on allegations of corruption. The Federal Government (FG) has commenced the process of confiscating some of Ekweremadu’s property abroad. It is also about to charge the lawmaker before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for alleged false asset declaration. In the same vein, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described FG’s move as political vendetta.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly condemns a political culture which turns the blind eye at the vices of people of our ethnic, religious or political group.

Instead of allowing law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies to diligently carry out their legitimate duties, Nigerians have formed the habit of whipping up primordial sentiments. Ethnic groups, religious bodies and members of his political party ignore the real issues on ground and make ridiculous claims.

In the case at hand, Ohaneze allegedly complains that Igbo sons are being singled out. This is far from being the case. 23 names are on the second list, for example. How many of them are Igbo? Is Adesola Amosun an Igbo man? Are Babangida Aliyu, Jonah Jang, Rasheed Ladoja from the South East? Are Omokore and Aluko Igbo names? What will happen if the Yoruba, Hausa and other ethnic groups make the same allegation?

MURIC appeals to Nigerians to avoid jumping to emotional conclusions. We should learn to critically assess the facts of any allegation. But above all, we should allow the courts to be the last arbiters. A political culture which readily (and laughably) extenuates offences committed by people of our ethnic background, religion or political party is capable of leading Nigeria to perdition. 

How can we, in good conscience, celebrate thieves and morally barren people? How can we complain of bad governance yet we sympathise with looters? Are we so hypocritical that we cannot face the truth? We are the cause of all the bad things we accuse our leaders of if we cannot allow the government to punish evil doers. We will never be able to stop corruption. It will be evil ad infinitum. It means we are finished as a people.    


It is high time we learnt from countries doing well. Alberto Fujimori, a 79-year old former President of Peru, was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for corruption during his time in office. Park Geun-hye, a former President of South Korea, was last Friday (6th April 2018) sentenced to 24 years in prison after being found guilty of abuse of power, coercion and corrupt practices. Thailand’s former Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, who was ousted in 2014, was sentenced to five years in prison over a rice subsidy case. A former senior legislator in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province bagged 14 years imprisonment for accepting bribes. So why should Nigeria be different?

Corruption is being reduced in other climes by punishing corrupt leaders but in Nigeria we are being tied down by tribal, religious and political sentiments. Militants always start blowing up oil installations the moment the government makes any move to make ex-President Jonathan or his wife accountable. Who did this to Nigeria?  

In our summary, we charge Nigerians to be ready to confront facts. We should leave people facing corruption charges to prove their innocence in the court of law. We urge FG to ignore sentiments being expressed over investigations of false assets and other forms of graft. Unless cases involving corrupt practices are pursued to logical conclusions, the problem of infrastructural deficiency will linger for a very long time.

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