Wednesday, November 23, 2016

ONDO ELECTION: NO HANKY-PANKY PLEASE



24th November, 2016
PRESS RELEASE:
ONDO ELECTION: NO HANKY-PANKY PLEASE


Gubernatorial election will be held in Ondo State on Saturday 26th November, 2016. Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rejected calls for postponement made by some political parties and insisted that the election must hold as scheduled.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) frowns at INEC’s insistence on holding the election as scheduled. Nothing makes Saturday sacrosanct. The guiding principle should be fairness to all parties concerned.


The air of uncertainty orchestrated by lingering court cases informed the request for postponement made by twenty one (21) political parties led by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). INEC should have listened to that request since it would not have been the first time election dates were shifted.  


The green light given to the Appeal Court by the Supreme Court came at the twilight of preparations for the election and the final emergence of Eyitayo Jegede as the PDP’s candidate has vindicated the 21 political parties which demanded a postponement. A political climate enveloped by a thick cloud of uncertainty is definitely not the best in the circumstances.


Viewed from this perspective, the PDP’s candidate has been heavily shortchanged particularly because he has little or no time to campaign, review his strategy and marshal his arsenal of opportunities before the final onslaught. In short, INEC has not created a level playing ground for all parties.    


The onus is therefore on INEC to prove its good intention. INEC has the responsibility to put all its cards on the table in order to gain the confidence of all stakeholders. The electoral body must ensure a free, fair and credible election.


In the same vein, the security agencies should not allow themselves to be used for selfish ends. They must see themselves as the only umpires in the competition taking place on the field of democracy. They should manifest highest level of professionalism. Their neutrality before, during and after the election is very crucial to the attainment of a peaceful, free and fair election.


MURIC reminds all stakeholders that Ondo State is a very volatile state. Ondo was at the forefront in the days of ‘operation wet-e’ in the Wild Wild West of the 60s and it remains a riot-prone zone to date. While we acknowledge the herculean task before the security agencies, we affirm that only an unbiased composure will ensure a hitch-free electoral exercise. There should be no hanky-panky.

In conclusion, we appeal to the good people of Ondo State to prove to the world that they are not only leading in the field of education, but that they can also be models in political maturity. We therefore appeal to them to maintain high standards of electoral decorum in terms of calmness, peacefulness and respect for law and order throughout the period of the election.  


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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

NO TO SALARY ARREARS FOR EX-HEADS OF STATE



22nd November, 2016
PRESS RELEASE:
NO TO SALARY ARREARS FOR EX-HEADS OF STATE


Some former heads of state are allegedly warming up to collect about ten months arrears of allowances. Among them are General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), General Abdul Salaam Abubakar (rtd) and General Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd).


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is deeply disappointed that these retired army generals and former heads of state cannot voluntarily forgo their entitlements particularly in Nigeria’s trying period. They are still expecting payment of arrears of salaries when workers have not been paid for months in some states.


We are constrained to ask the former heads of state, “What exactly do you want to offer this country in these troubled times? What are you prepared to sacrifice? Who among you is a pauper today? Who among you is not a billionaire? Who among you is ready to declare his assets as they stand at the moment? Do you really need these arrears before you can survive?”


MURIC charges the Federal Government (FG) to withhold the arrears of former heads of state until the country gets out of the current recession. This is how Nigeria is being bled nearly to death. There are too many yawning drainages. It is most unwise for this country to continue to throw scarce resources down drain pipes. This culture of waste must stop.


Twenty one (21) ex-governors are currently in Senate. They get salaries, houses, vehicles, staffers, etc from their states as former governors. The vehicles must be changed every three years. This is parliamentary fraud. They are collecting full salary as senators and pension entitlements as ex-governors. Nigeria is indeed adept at wasting resources. This country is being scammed.


Enough is enough. ‘Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’. The rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. The middle class has long been eliminated and the gap between the rich and the poor gets wider every day. Too many people are hungry. Too many people are starving and somebody is talking about paying arrears to ex-heads of state.


Nigerian workers are overworked, underpaid and overtaxed. Their take-home pay cannot take them home. We are just being patient with FG because we have faith in the Buhari administration. We have seen how prudent FG has been since Buhari took over. That prudence must be maintained. We therefore say capital ‘NO’ to salary arrears for overfed ex-presidents.


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



Sunday, November 20, 2016

OSHIOMOLE’S N200M MANSION: A MISPLACED PRIORITY



20th November, 2016
PRESS RELEASE:
OSHIOMOLE’S N200M MANSION: A MISPLACED PRIORITY

The Edo State House of Assesmbly last week voted a N200 million mansion for the immediate past governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomole.     


While the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) acknowledges the contributions of former governor Adams Oshiomole, we frown at the sycophant note in the state Assembly’s decision to give him a N200 million mansion as a parting gift.


When will Nigerian politicians get it right? Why must the occupation of public office attract the accumulation of wealth? Coming from a labour background, even Comrade Oshiomole himself was never known to be materialistic. Neither did he manifest any love for pomp and pageantry while in office. Must the honourable members coax him into their club of politicians who have ‘arrived’?


A nation in recession cannot afford such luxury. Can the Benin lawmakers tell us that the ex-governor has no house of his own? Has he been sleeping on the streets since he left government house? We commend the governor for not owing workers salaries but can the legislators beat their chests and tell us that Edo State is not owing arrears of pensions?


Has Edo State settled the 42 months arrears of pensions? Do the lawmakers know what it means to retire and get nothing at the end of the month for three and a half years? It means many retired civil servants and teachers are dropping dead on the streets of Benin. Must the lawmakers give the former governor a mansion haunted by the ghosts of pensioners?


MURIC advises the honourable members of the Edo State House of Assembly to spend the N200 million earmarked for the former governor’s house on paying pensioners’ arrears.


Oshiomole is not a poor man by any standard. Neither can he be homeless at this point in time. The good news is that Abuja is very keen on drafting him into the Federal Executive Council. He has performed well. Let us not smear his good name with wrongful possessions.


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

Monday, November 14, 2016

DEATH OF EX-SULTAN DASUKI: WE ARE DEVASTATED



15th November, 2016
PRESS RELEASE:
DEATH OF EX-SULTAN DASUKI: WE ARE DEVASTATED

The former Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, died last night in a private hospital in Abuja. Born on 31st December, 1923, he was aged 93.    


The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is deeply saddened by his death. He was a man of honour, an icon of no small measure and a great patriot.


We condole the current Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammadu Sa‘ad Abubakar III, the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal and the people of Sokoto State for this great loss.


Although Islam has a fatalistic philosophy of death and the deceased was not even young at all, MURIC is devastated by the demise of ex-Sultan Dasuki because of the circumstances in which he died. He was deposed by the state military governor, Col. Yakubu Muazu, in 1996. He never regained the throne until his death a few hours ago.


As the 18th Sultan of Sokoto, the ex-Sultan was also the President-General of the NSCIA which is the umbrella organization of all Islamic organizations in Nigeria. It is most unfortunate that a state governor would possess the power to remove the head of all Nigerian Muslims. This is sad, preposterous and unacceptable.


We are therefore determined to ensure that no Sultan will taste such bitter cup of disgrace in future. It was monumental embarrassment and unmitigated disaster for Nigerian Muslims. Of course we know that the deposition of ex-Sultan Dasuki was politically motivated. The state governor simply obeyed orders from Sani Abacha, the late military dictator and former head of state.  


Article 7 (a) of the 1973 NSCIA Constitution confers the headship of the organization on the Sultan of Sokoto but, paradoxically, Section 6 CAP 21 of the Sokoto State Laws empowers the governor to dethrone the Sultan at will. But it must never happen again. It is quite obvious that the NSCIA Constitution and the Sokoto State Laws are at cross purposes.


Section 6 CAP 21 says inter alia:

       “The Governor after due enquiry and consultation with the
persons concerned in the selection, may depose any chief
or any head chief whether appointed before or after the
commencement of this law …in the interest of peace or order
or good government”


Thus, technically, Nigerian Muslims can be subjected to serious embarrassment and constitutional confusion whenever the governor of Sokoto State chooses to invoke this obnoxious section. Their national leader can be removed by the governor just by snapping his finger.


MURIC rejects this impunity. It is draconian, ridiculous and pernicious. It is a clog in the wheel of progress for Nigerian Muslims. The governor can have his way with any other traditional ruler in the state. The Sultan must be exempted unless the people of Sokoto State want to provoke Nigerian Muslims to call for a radical amendment of the NSCIA constitution. But we don’t see any need for that because the ruling Sultan is a blessing for the Ummah.


We therefore call on the Honourable Speaker of the Sokoto State House of Assembly to set the necessary machinery in motion to amend this obnoxious section. The current Sultan and his successors must be immuned against deposition by the state governor.


We suggest the insertion of the phrase ‘except the Sultan of Sokoto’ after the words ‘or any head chief’. It is so simple. All we need is for one honourable member of the House to raise the motion for the amendment of Section 6 CAP 21 for the insertion to be effected. We appeal to all stakeholders in Sokoto State not to delay the amendment for the sake of posterity. The political climate in Sokoto (and Abuja too) is favourable today. It may not be so tomorrow.


We call on Nigerian Muslims to be alert and politically conscious. Freedom cannot be enjoyed by the na├»ve and the myopic in society. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. Can any Nigerian president remove the head of all Nigerian Christians? Can Buhari remove the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)? Then why should we allow such anomaly in Islamdom? Sokoto must seize the initiative before it is taken from its hands.  


On compassionate ground, MURIC appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately release Col. Sambo Dasuki, the son of the late ex-Sultan who is still in custody for his role in the $2.1 billion arms scandal, so that he can attend his father’s burial rites.


In conclusion, we pray for the repose of ex-Sultan Dasuki’s soul in Al-Jannah Firdaus. May Almighty Allah forgive him and protect everything left behind by him.


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