The Nigerian nation finally entered a new year 2016 after an action-packed 356 days of year 2015.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) casts a retrospective glance at major issues of national interest x-raying the performances of the three arms of government, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary in the last one year. In summary, we are generally pleased with steps taken so far by the executive arm of government in several areas.
WAR AGAINST BOKO HARAM INSURGENTS:
The war against Boko Haram insurgents has been largely won courtesy of the new administration’s sincerity of purpose and commitment to the protection of the territorial integrity of Nigeria. We strongly believe that recent incidents of suicide bombing in some parts of the North East are borne out of a sense of defeat as all territories occupied by the insurgents have been liberated by the Nigerian Army.President Muhammadu Buhari and the top echelon of the Nigerian Army deserve accolades for this monumental fait accompli.
THE CHIBOK GIRLS:
MURIC lays the blame for the tragic disappearance of the Chibok girls who were abducted by the insurgents on the doorsteps of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan who refused to take action until 18 days after the mass abduction. His nonchalance appeared conspiratorial as it gave the hoodlums enough time to either take the girls outside Nigeria or hide them in an underground bunker while they dug in. This is a good case of executive connivance and accessory after the fact of mass abduction of innocent Nigerian girls. We regretfully assert that only a magic in the hands of Jonathan’s successor and divine miracle can produce the Chibok girls.
The introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to the finance sector of government agencies nationwide has injected a powerful dose of probity and accountability in public finance. Its implementation has also reinforced President Buhari’s credibility. No less reassuring is the new administration’s war against corruption.
In particular, the $2.2 billion arms fund saga has been most traumatizing. Nigerians are shocked that public office holders can so callously divert such huge funds meant for fighting insurgents. The blood of victims of Boko Haram marauders including that of our gallant soldiers who fell to the insurgents’ superior firepower is certainly on the heads of those behind the diversion.
In this regard, we appeal to President Buhari to release the 66 soldiers who were convicted for demanding adequate weapons before advancing on Boko Haram insurgents. This will be a most welcome new year gift from Mr. President to Nigerians.
We pity critics of President Buhari who call him a dictator on account of his firm stand on the corruption cases. They are birds of the same feather with those who steal from our commonwealth. Their blind criticism is simply aimed at blackmailing the president and compelling him to soft-pedal. In other climes, particularly in places like China and Vietnam, these public enemies would have been shot long ago and their properties forfeited to the state. Consideration of human rights is a misconception for people who deprived thousands of their right to life.
We call on President Buhari to remain undaunted in his determination to punish these kleptomaniacs. This is the people’s mandate and only a man with iron will can fulfill it. Mr. President must forge forward. ‘No retreat, No Surrender.’
THE NIGERIAN LEGISLATURE:
The recent allegation of a plan to purchase 496 cars for members of the National Assembly (NASS) is quite worrisome particularly because this is coming after car loans were granted to all the honourable members barely four months ago. Nigerians expect the NASS to embrace the change mantra of the new dispensation. With Nigeria’s basic foreign income earner (petroleum) which used to sell above $100 now selling at $37 per barrel, the last thing we need in these difficult times is an assembly of looters. We therefore demand that the extravagant plan be put on hold.
THE NIGERIAN JUDICIARY:
Although MURIC can observe knocks and kudos for the judiciary in the last one year, we can confidently say that this arm of government has kept its head above sea level. We are pleased to note that the old practice of releasing two or three inmates while exercising the prerogative of mercy has changed dramatically. State chief judges now free scores of deserving inmates during their visits.
MURIC implores the judiciary to visit the prisons regularly and free larger number of inmates in order to facilitate speedy and effective decongestion. In addition, we remind judges and lawyers of the need to temper justice with patriotism in their handling of corruption cases. Judges and lawyers should remember that they are also Nigerians and their nuclear or extended families are one way or the other affected by the acts of economic sabotage carried out by looters. Nigerians are eagerly waiting to hear final pronouncements on those who sucked them dry and turned their children into beggars. By the same token, posterity is taking note of collaborators in legal wigs and gowns.
THE NIGERIAN PRESS:
The Fourth Estate of the Realm proved worthy during the past year. Nonetheless, some overzealousness and sensationalism were noticed. Of particular reference is the curious interest shown by a section of the press in the hijab imbroglio. Rumours were deliberately generated to the effect that the government was planning to ban the hijab because of the way suicide bombers use it to disguise.
This was also demonstrated in the way a media executive posed the question to President Buhari during his recent media chat. To put the records straight and to the best of our knowledge, the Federal Government has not revealed any plan to ban hijab. The question put to Mr. President was therefore unnecessary, sensation-seeking and mischievous. We are also constrained to clarify that no neighbouring country has banned hijab. What was banned in Cameroon, Niger and Chad is theburqa which covers both the heads and faces of users. In spite of the response extorted from Mr. President, Nigerian Muslims have no reason to doubt his sense of fairness.
We must also quickly add that nobody in his right frame of mind will compare Nigeria with its neighbours particularly on religious issues. Unlike Nigeria, our neighbours have experienced no single religious crisis for decades. The argument that Nigeria should also ban the hijab because its neighbours have done so is therefore weak, irrelevant and untenable. Any administration contemplating a ban on hijab in Nigeria may be setting fire to its own roof. Nigerian journalists are therefore implored to eschew sensation and to conduct their assignments with great sense of responsibility in the interest of peace in the country.
Nonetheless, MURIC is still of the humble opinion that certain measures can be taken on the hijab affair (e.g. regarding type, style, time frame and not a blanket ban) in the interest of protecting the lives of even the Muslims who use the hijab and those of the security agents if the local Muslims are taken into confidence prior to debates and declarations.
On a final note, therefore, MURIC reaffirms full confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration. We call on the leadership and members of the NASS to tow the same line of discipline in order to justify the exalted position occupied by them. President Buhari is advised to dialogue with Muslims in the country on the perceived threat posed by hijab to security agents and civilian populations.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
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