By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has received the backing of an Islamic human rights organization in his recent call for six months maternity leave for Nigerian women. It will be recalled that the minister made the call at the flag-off and policy dialogue of the World breastfeeding week in Abuja on 1st August, 2018.
Reacting to the minister’s plea, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) said the call was timely, germane and salutary. According to the group, exclusive breastfeeding is Allah-given fundamental right of every child. It argued that the continuous denial of this right has been responsible for youth restiveness, loss of mother-child emotional attachment, violence in society, rise in immoral behaviour and increased manifestation of man’s inhumanity to man around the globe.
The group’s endorsement of the honourable minister’s advocacy for six months maternity leave was contained in a press release signed on Wednesday, 8th August, 2018, by its director, Ishaq Akintola, a professor of Islamic eschatology at the Lagos State University.
According to Akintola, “The consumption of natural human breast milk during a child’s first two years on earth ensures his complete humanity. Children who are given only one year breastfeeding can only be 50% human. Those breastfed for only six months have 25% Adamic chromosome while those who receive human breast milk for just three months can only be 12½ % human. Only those breastfed for two years can be wholly homo sapien.
“The mother’s breast milk is a milk of human compassion and the period for bestowing full human quality on the child is two years. Children who receive less and are given mechanized milk in form of baby food packages have the propensity to manifest animalistic behavior. It should be noted that the advent of such mechanized milk and their consumption by children in the past forty years or so have been responsible for the militarization of the youth and the emergence of the ‘area boys’ syndrome in modern societies.
“Whereas the manuals contained in manufacturers’ products are diligently perused and obeyed to the last letter, mankind has failed to follow the Supreme Creator’s divine manual. Exempli gratia, we pour water inside a car’s radiator and fuel in the petrol tank just as directed in the manual provided by the manufacturer. But we all know what will happen if we pour fuel inside a car’s radiator. We willingly obey the instructions of the manufacturer of cars but ignore those of Allah, the maker of man.
“Allah’s directive on breastfeeding is very clear. It must be for two consecutive years (Glorious Qur’an 2:233) but we have been ignoring this simple command. It is only recently that health officials have discovered that children must be breastfed for two years. Yet there was no science when the Qur’an was revealed”.
The group argued that its advocacy for exclusive breastfeeding is not new. “We demanded mandatory 2-year breastfeeding for children in our press statement nine years ago, on 14th June 2009 (“MURIC Tasks NASS on Breast-Feeding”,Nigerian Tribune, Friday, 19th June, 2009, page 46; “MURIC Calls for 2-Year Breast-Feeding Legislation”, Daily Trust, Wednesday, 17th June, 2009, page 11). We also called for 6 month maternity leave in August 2013 (The Punch 11th August, 2013, page 5; The Compass, 12th August, 2013, page 29).
“We hailed the Lagos State government when it granted six months maternity leave in July 2014. We also lauded the Federal Government (FG) when it gave lactating mothers four months earlier this year but we made it clear that nursing mothers need more than four months. This is why the minister’s call for six months maternity leave is very timely.
“To round off, we charge FG to go the whole hog by increasing maternity leave to six months. We also call for special health concessions like free medical care for pregnant women, lactating mothers and their children.