By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has cautioned Nigerians to stop politicizing the RUGA affair. The Islamic human rights organization gave the warning in a press statement circulated by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Thursday, 18th July, 2019.
“Nigerians should stop listening to rogue politicians. There is nothing like Fulanis planning to install Emir of Oshogbo, Emir of Enugu or Emir of Asaba. It is all balderdash. These are false alarms being raised by unscrupulous politicians and expired demagogues.
“For decades in this country, we have always had Seriki Hausawa in almost all the cities of the South just as we have always had Oba Yoruba and Igwe of the Igbo in almost all the cities of Northern Nigeria. These were mere symbolic leaders of those tribal groups residing in states and cities other than their own. They were there for ease of administration and inter-tribal relations and they peacefully co-existed with their host communities.
“But suddenly rogue politicians and merchants of hate speech began inciting Nigerians against Northerners, particularly Fulanis and herdsmen. All sorts of crimes were ascribed to them, especially kidnapping and armed robbery. It is as if the Oyenusis among the Yoruba have suddenly disappeared while the Evans among the Igbo have melted away like ice cream in the desert sun.
“It amounts to gross mischief and incalculable disservice to humanity to use this as a reason for rejecting the RUGA plan. RUGA, which means rural grazing area is being misinterpreted to gullible Nigerians as an attempt by Northerners to install Emirs in the South or an attempt by them to invade Southern communities. This is far from the truth.
“MURIC condemns the politicization of RUGA. We frown at the stereotyping of any ethnicity or group of persons anywhere in the world, particularly Nigeria. All tribes have their own share of criminals just as there are decent and industrious citizens among all ethnicities. We are alarmed at the rate of deception, outright lies and make-beliefs calculated at inciting Southerners against Fulanis and Hausas.
“We call on Southerners to resist political charlatans who are out to spread hate and ignite widespread hostilities. We call on Southerners to think out of the box as there are many angles to the concept of RUGA. For instance, we can start looking at the quantity of cattle sales in a place like Lagos where about 6,000 cows are slaughtered daily. This is big business for crying out loud.
“Any visionary governor from the South will accept the RUGA policy purely for economic reasons. We cannot afford to remain naïve and blinded by ethnic jingoism. 10% commission to the state coffers is not pittance especially as it runs into billions of naira.
“As we fold our mats, we charge Southern governors to think more of the economic gains of RUGA and not the rumoured, unfounded and quixotic installation of emirs in Southern communities. It is a farce. We should be looking at the message, not the messenger. We call on Southerners to ignore disgruntled politicians and stop idolizing demons. Nigeria needs unity now more than ever before and this is why we must move closer to all non-indigenes residing or doing business in our communities.”