By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
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 Oshiomhole over what it described as ‘frivolous
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
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
“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.
“This is why we find the statements accredited to these two
politicians capable of raising the citizens’ adrenalin and we are
constrained to issue this caveat emptor. Atiku and Oshiomole should
note that those are no go areas. We reject them in their totality and
we demand explanations from both of them”.