By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) recently conducted nationwide recruitment exercise for which applicants were requested to appear in white shorts, white round neck T-shirts, canvass and socks.
Reacting to the development, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) described it as a deliberate exercise in religious marginalization, economic deprivation and undisguised discrimination against Muslim women.
MURIC’s reaction was contained in a press statement signed by its director and founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola on Thursday, 26thSeptember, 2018.
The Islamic human rights organization wondered why FRSC would issue a directive which is designed to exclude a section of Nigerian citizens. Akintola said, “The whole world knows that Muslim women do not wear shorts. It is therefore strange to hear the FRSC requesting applicants of both sexes to appear in shorts. FRSC is a federal road safety concern and its recruitment exercise should be inclusive.
“Or is FRSC telling us that it only recognizes Christian women alone? Is FRSC telling us that it cannot tolerate the sight of Muslim women? Is this federal agency only interested in giving jobs to Christian women to the disadvantage of their Muslim counterparts? Is FRSC unaware of the economic implication of this among the Nigerian Muslim population? Is this not a deliberate attempt to empower Christians and continuously impoverish Muslims?
“We believe it is a deliberate attempt to exclude Muslims. We are disappointed that FRSC has joined the clique of anti-Muslim institutions that claim secularism in order to shortchange Muslims. Muslims are being shut out of the economy of this country. Muslims are being dragged to the bottom of the pyramid of poverty in Nigeria. Instructions which make it impossible for Muslims to participate in nation-building are being rolled out on a daily basis in public and private sectors.
“We remind FRSC that the marginalization of any section of the Nigerian population by any agency is a violation of Section 14(4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which stipulates that “The composition of the Government of the Federation, a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation”
“MURIC therefore rejects the FRSC recruitment exercise for failing to recognize the diversity of our population. It is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional to issue directives which are designed to exclude any section of the country. The exercise can best be described as incomplete, sectional and discriminatory.
“To complete the exercise, FRSC authorities must give Muslim women their own opportunity to participate. A new date must be fixed for the recruitment of Muslim women in the next few weeks. Nigeria belongs to us all. MURIC will not fold its hands while our common patrimony is shared out among Christians alone.
“We advise FRSC and all uniformed formations to take note of this observation in order to correct the anomaly in future exercises. Marginalisation is the oil which lubricates the engines of bitterness, animosity and rancour in any heterougeneous community like Nigeria. Part of the problems facing Nigeria today is the failure of public institutions and agencies to accept and fully integrate Muslims into the system. Most institutions assume that the anti-Muslim system bequeathed by the colonial master is the ideal thing. They never bother to look around to know if it is all-inclusive”
MURIC also has a message for Muslim women. “We charge Muslim women all over the country to rise to the occasion. Demand your Allah-given fundamental human rights and that includes the right to employment, right to decent living and right to the dignity of your human person. Nobody under the sun has the right to ask you to expose your body. The Glorious Qur’an affirms that Allah Himself created mankind with dignity. (Qur’an 17:70). Why then should you allow anyone to deprive you of your Allah-endowed dignity?
“We urge the Federation of Muslim Women Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN) to sensitise and mobilize Muslim women across the country for the coming struggle which is aimed at emancipating Nigerian Muslim women from the clutches of neo-imperialists. Freedom is never offered on a platter of gold. It is no longer fashionable to be docile.
“The Qur’an asserts, ‘Why should you not rise in the cause of Allah to defend men, women and children who are oppressed due to their weakness? The weak ones cry out, “Our Lord! rescue us from this city (Nigeria?) whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from Thee one who will protect us, and send to us a helper!” (Qur’an 4:75-76).
“If you dare to struggle, you will dare to win. Muslim women in Nigeria must keep their eyes open. They must adopt ‘discrimination against one is discrimination against all’ as a motto. The Nigerian Muslim woman has become an endangered specie and this is the only way she can be defended because the authorities never show any concern for their freedom. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
“On a last note, MURIC demands a special recruitment exercise designed for Muslim women to be conducted by FRSC in the next few weeks. We advise the federal agency to consult FOMWAN on the modalities.