PRESS RELEASE: We Reject Mischievous Pre-National Conference MeetingsPress Releases Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
MURIC Press Release:
The Presidential Committee on the proposed National Conference has held two sittings in the South West to date (one in Akure, Ondo State and the other in Lagos).
It was not an accident that Friday was picked on both occasions while the time for starting the sittings was 1.30 pm. We assert clearly, unambiguously and unequivocally that neither the day picked nor the time was coincidental. The members of the committee are not foreigners. They knew what they were doing. There is no single Nigerian who does not know that Friday is the day of worship for Muslims and that the time for Jum’ah prayer is 12.30 to 2.30 pm.
To have slated such a sensitive sitting for the Muslim prayer time is not only mischievous but preposterous, disdainful and absolutely unacceptable. It is also most undemocratic because democracy is all about participation and equal opportunity to participate. It is also an invitation to chaos. What if the marginalized Muslims had stormed the venue with protests? Could it have been done out of ignorance? But how can the committee claim to be ignorant in such a very sensitive circumstance?
The result of this badly planned pre-National Conference meeting held in Akure and Lagos was the exclusion of the Muslim population and their representatives. This is a significant misrepresentation particularly in a region in which the Muslims form the majority. It reveals an unnecessary attempt to rush the National Conference. The outcome of such a conference can only scratch the surface. Only the deep can call to the deep. The plan as presently designed will merely sweep the issues under the carpet. A country that has long been bedeviled with ethnic and religious conflicts need more serious planning.
Furthermore, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) regards the need to raise and fully discuss religious matters at the conference as fundamental and non-negotiable. There is no gainsaying the fact that religion has been responsible for most conflicts in this country. Why then are the organizers of the purported ‘National Conference’ laying emphasis on ethnicity alone? Any attempt to hold a national conference in this country without discussing religion will be an exercise in futility. The injustice of the colonial masters against the Muslims must be discussed at the conference.
MURIC contends that Nigeria as it stands today is a neocolonialist project serving the purpose of the colonial master and the imperialists alone. The colonialists adopted a parochial method through which they virtually eliminated all vestiges of Islam which they met on ground. This they did by using sheer force, divide et impera and so many other subterfuges. The British bequeathed to us a legacy which was heavily tainted with their own perception of religion in all aspects of life: education, health, law, etc.
Today, Nigerian Muslims see our so called independence in 1960 as cosmetic, our republican status in 1963 as window-dressing and our democracy today as a monumental fraud. This injustice against Muslims must be addressed at the National Conference if this government seeks genuine peace. Christians and Muslims must enjoy equal rights in all fields in a post-National Conference Nigeria. That is why we must invite both groups to tell Nigerians what they want.
The exclusion of Muslims from the pre-National Conference meetings in the South West is part of a massive plan to permanently keep Muslims from the geo-political zone at bay. We decry this attempt as undemocratic, non-participatory and Bohemian. Nigeria’s search for peace must be genuine. It is therefore hypocritical to exclude religion from the theme of the conference.
We are alarmed by the shoddy preparations and the rush. Besides, we wish to warn that a booby trap lies ahead if the National Conference is combined with the 2015 general elections.
In view of the poor publicity for the past two sittings in the South West, we demand that the committee fixes other dates for the sub-region. These dates must be given due publicity in the print and electronic media. A national conference is not a child’s play and cannot be prepared for in secrecy. What is the committee trying to hide?
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
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