LAGOS – As Nigeria marks more than five decades on independence, Muslims have criticized the government’s failure to offer basic socio-economic rights, particularly in the area of official appointments, not just by the Muslims but all the citizens.
“This government has not been fair to Muslims at all in all ramifications,” Hajiah Shakirah Abdulmajeed, spokesperson for The Criterion, a group of professional Muslim women across Nigeria, told OnIslam.net.
“Out of the 38 ministers in the Country, 17 were Muslims and three out of the 17 were recently sacked.
“Those not sacked are junior ministers (minister of state). I can go on and on. If you check the list of service chiefs, it is the same story, even in government agencies and parastatals.”
Fifty three years ago, Nigeria gained its independence in October 1960.
Marking 53rd anniversary of independence, a lack of basic socio-economic rights remained a main headache for Muslims and all Nigerian citizens alike.
They particularly scored their government low in the area of provision of basic amenities for the citizens, adding that 53 years of independence have not translated to socio-economic and political independence for most Nigerians.
Tunde Akanni, a university professor and activist who champions socio-economic rights of Nigerians under various nonprofit platforms, said most Nigerians cannot point to anything the government is doing for them.
“Private educational institutions have taken over. We buy our water to drink. Most of us provide at least night security for ourselves. We can go on counting. Finally, what exactly has government done well?” he said.
Prof Ishaq Akintola, who teaches Islamic studies at the Lagos State University, added that, “Nigeria’s political leaders have next to nothing to “champion the cause of the almajirai – the poor – in the society.”
“53 three years after, the people remain terribly poor. We are told up to 70 per cent of our people live below two dollars in a day. Up to 10million children of school age are out of school,”
“There is no water, no security, no road, no electricity and other basic amenities. People live in abject poverty. That is abominable and unforgiveable for a country that is world’s seventh biggest producer of oil. For these almajirai, there is basically nothing to celebrate.”
Confirming that Muslims share responsibility for Nigeria’s progress, Muslim leaders urged Nigerians across all backgrounds to unite for the country to move forward, shed their differences and build a strong nation.
“It is time for us all to join hands and work to change our situation, work for the progress of our nation and employ the sublime values of our religions to achieve our collective aspirations,” Kamor Disu, head of the Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), told OnIslam.net.
“How much longer will selfishness and greed go on? Selfishness and greed that are killing us, our kids and the country we call ours. It is now time to say enough is enough.
“Using the opportunity of this particular occasion to reflect deeply, our political leaders must truthfully answer the question: is the privilege they have at this moment their means to divine and eternal pleasure or a path to self-destruction?
“As God has endowed every soul with conscience, surely they know the answer to this question. As for the rest of us, we are certain that God does not allow injustice to go unaddressed.”
Hajiah Abdulmajeed, spokesperson for The Criterion, added all that Nigerians want is good governance, irrespective of who their leaders are.
“An average Nigerian does not care who rules this country if government can provide basic amenities like regular power supply, good roads, employment opportunities and security of lives and property. All these are lacking in the country presently,” Abdulmajeed said.
“People are living below poverty level and there seems to be no hope in sight. Look at the issue of ASUU strike for examples, government seems not to bother by the prolonged strike and its consequences on the nation.
“These young undergraduates have been staying at home for months while their counterparts in private universities have since resumed academic work. How do you want them to feel? It is not in anybody's interest for young men and women to be idle,” he added.
Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.
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