The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has issued a stern warning to the former vice president and presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as well as the former governor of Edo State and chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Comrade Adams Oshiomole over what it described as ‘frivolous pronouncements’.
It will be recalled that Atiku Abubakar pledged to sell the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) if he becomes the president of Nigeria even if he would be killed for doing so. He was also quoted as saying that he would enrich his friends if elected president. On his own part, Oshiomole was widely quoted as saying, “once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven”.
In a statement issued on Saturday, 19th January, 2018 and signed by MURIC’s director and founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola, the Islamic human rights organisation cautioned the two politicians over pronouncements capable of raising fears or causing doubts among the populace.
According to Akintola, “These are weighty statements. They are unguarded. While the former vice president’s pledge to sell NNPC may be described as controversial and a mere policy statement, his reference to commitment even in the face of death is an extreme position while his promise to enrich his friends is capable of raising adrenalin among poor Nigerians.
“That statement is seen as far-reaching and pregnant with meanings. The fact that it was made at a gathering of the country’s business community means a lot. Is Atiku focusing on the rich at the expense of the hoi polloi? Are we going to witness a wider gap between the rich and the poor if he wins the election? Is it not going to be a case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? What then is the fate of the jamaahiir (i.e. masses)? How can our common patrimony go to a few friends?
“What exactly does the APC chairman mean by declaring that sins are forgiven once the sinner joins his party? When did any Nigerian political party become a cleanser of iniquities? What kind of sins does APC forgive? Do such sins include wide-scale looting, fraud, economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, murder, political assassination, aiding, abetting and acting as godfather of armed robbers, etc? Is joining APC tantamount to atonement?
“The Muslim Rights Concern is concerned because as an Islamic human rights organisation protecting Allah-given fundamental rights of Muslims in particular and Nigerians in general, we cannot close our eyes to developments capable of increasing poverty among the poor or halting developmental projects and infrastructural development. Neither can we ignore statements or actions capable of debilitating the ongoing war against corruption.
“MURIC belongs to the poorest constituency in this country today as Muslims represent majority of the 80 million poverty-stricken Nigerians. We are concerned because the socio-economic statistics are frightening. The average Nigerian still lives on less than $1 dollar per day while the per capita income is still less than $300.
“Only 2% of Nigerians own 90% of total bank deposits. Only 1% of the Nigerian population controls 85% of the nation’s total wealth, leaving a paltry 15% for the remaining 99% to fight over! That is why there is social disharmony.
“Unfortunately MURIC’s constituency (the Nigerian Muslim population) constitute more than 70% of the 99% poorest Nigerians. Yet one politician is still talking about ‘enriching’ his friends and another one speaks of forgiving’ sinners once they join their party. Who cursed Nigeria for Allah’s sake?
“This is why MURIC is concerned. It is also the raison d’etre of our support for the war against corruption because the latter is the real cassu belli for poverty, illiteracy and widespread disease among the majority Muslim population. Our intervention which some Nigerians interpret wrongly as involvement in politics or partisanship is therefore a fight for the survival of this generation of Muslims. We look beyond politics.
“Whereas the present generation of Nigerians has been described as ‘a wasted generation’, we are constrained to describe Muslims in Nigeria today as a generation of almajiris going by the rate of poverty and squalor compared to their compatriots in other faiths. This is a verifiable claim. Whereas majority of adherents of other faiths are in white collar jobs, majority of Muslims are engaged in poor menial jobs like gatemen, bus conductors, drivers, and labourers. The Muslim names given to poor characters in Nigerian films and television drama perfectly exemplify this claim.
“This explanation is necessary so that Nigerians will understand where we are coming from and why we are solidly and unflinchingly in support of the war against graft. We are not looking at it with political lenses, rather it is about the liberation of millions of Muslims and other poor and oppressed Nigerians from the clutches of economic strangulation. We are concerned with how to eliminate corruption and raise the standard of living of the average Nigerian. Any political party which turns its attention to these key issues will therefore gain our support.
*Photo L-R: Atiku, Oshiomole