An Islamic civil liberties organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has told the President-Elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to give Muslims in Muslim-majority states at least four ministerial appointments each after his inauguration.
In a statement issued on Thursday 11th May, 2023 by its Executive Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, and made available to Newsbreak Nigeria, the group condemned marginalization of Muslims in such states in political appointments.
The full statement reads: “As Nigeria warms up for the inauguration of a new administration under the able, tested and trusted leadership of President-Elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu, we remind the incoming president and other Nigerians of past political marginalization of Muslims in Muslim-majority states since independence.
“We are deeply disturbed that it is only in the core North where we have states like Sokoto, Borno, Katsina, etc that the right of Muslims to be included in governance is respected. Former Christian military heads of states and civilian presidents have deliberately marooned Muslims from the political architecture of Muslim-majority states.
“Christians who were appointed governors over Muslim-majority regions and states were secretly given instructions to either turn or shake the demographic table in favour of Christianity. Unfortunately, this happened at a time when Muslims were still suffering from paucity of political consciousness in those regions and states.
“Examples of past denial of Muslims in participatory democracy can be found in the appointments of Col David Bamigboye as military governor of Kwara State, a predominantly Muslim-majority state (May 1967 – July 1975) by General Jack Gowon (rtd). Lt. Col. Francis Adekunle Fajuyi was also appointed military governor of the Western Region by General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi.
“The South West had earlier been led mainly by Christian political leaders featuring Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola and Chief Victor Babaremilekun Adetokunbo Fani-Kayode. The christianisation agenda of the South West had also been championed by Christian military administrators and governors like Lt. Col. Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, Mobolaji Johnson, Christopher Oluwole Rotimi, Navy Cap Akintunde Aduwo, Col. David Jemibewon, etc.
“Obasanjo and Jonathan out-Heroded Herod. All the six ministers appointed by them from the South West were Christians and Muslims were totally excluded from federal appointments under them. Worse still, they appointed Christians as ministers from core Muslim states like Bauchi, Kwara and Kaduna.
“This policy of total political blackout for Muslims in Muslim-majority states is contrary to the principles of participatory democracy. It is heartless political exclusion and the height of religious apartheid. We condemn it in the strongest terms.
“Therefore, as the new dawn of political inclusiveness promised by President-Elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu approaches, we demand total departure from the past tortuous political marginalization of Muslims to complete political integration of Muslim citizens in all geo-political zones.
“In particular, MURIC demands at least four ministerial appointments each for competent Muslims out of the six ministers earmarked for every geopolitical zone where Muslims command majority after Tinubu’s inauguration. We urge governors in Muslim-majority states to avoid marginalizing Muslims in nominations for ministerial posts. We refer specifically to states like Taraba, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Kogi, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Niger, Kaduna, Kebbi, Lagos, etc.
“Nigerian Muslims demand fair representation. We demand inclusiveness and full integration into the Nigerian political space. This is without prejudice to the preference for competence. The records set by Professor Ishaq Oloyede and Professor Isa Ali Pantami in office remain indubitable proof of hidden administrative icons among Nigerian Muslims although only unbiased presidents and governors will find them.
“We are not asking Tinubu to sacrifice excellence on the altar of mediocrity. We have no scintilla of doubt that there are eminently qualified Muslims in all fields of human endeavour. We assert clearly, emphatically and categorically that failure to find suitable Muslims in any state of the federation for ministerial appointment is like failure to find coal in Newcastle.
“Of course it is only logical that ministers from states like Sokoto, Borno, Kano and Jigawa will all be Muslims while those from Enugu, Anambra, Rivers and Cross Rivers will be an all-Christian affair. The governors in those states may give one or two minorities appointments as commissioners and board members.”
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