By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Nigerian Muslim rights advocacy group, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has accused Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku of Taraba State of marginalising Muslims and non-Jukuns in the state in political appointments and denying them gainful employment.
This was disclosed in a press statement circulated among journalists by the Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Monday, 10th August, 2020.
MURIC said, “We have genuine cassu belli to interrogate the actions of the governor of Taraba State. He is oppressing Taraba Muslims and non-Jukuns. Under his watch, all sectors of the state have been christianised. From education to employment and political appointments, Muslims and non-Jukuns are relegated to the background.
“Primordialism, parochialism, exclusivism, religious bigotry featuring preferrential consideration for Christians and the Jukun tribe over Muslims and other tribes in virtually every aspect of governance is what Muslims and non-Jukun tribes have been facing in Taraba State for the past five years.
“Taraba Muslims face discrimination when seeking admission into higher institutions. Scholarships are the exclusive preserve of Christians. Jobs are laundered through the churches and letters of reference from pastors and deacons are automatic passports for employment. Promotion from one grade to another is decided by virtue of faith. Even death benefits of Muslims are withheld while those of Christians are paid pronto.
“Governor Darius must be interrogated by MURIC. Nigerian Muslims want to know why ten out of the fourteen commissioners in the state are Christians when twelve out of the sixteen local governments are predominated by Muslim populations. Why are the vice chancellor, rector, provost and heads of the state-owned university, polytechnic, college of education, health technology institute and school of nursing Christians? Darius has a case to answer.
“Your Excellency, kindly explain to Nigerians why your Muslim subjects and non-Jukuns are considered not qualified to hold political posts. What is the minimum educational qualification to become eligible for the post of commissioner in Taraba State? What are the educational qualifications of those appointed to justify the exclusion of Muslims and other tribes?
“Mr. Governor sir, is it only the Christians in your state who are paying tax? If the Muslims and non-Jukuns are tax-payers, why do you exclude them from political appointments and employments? That is your exclusivism. Why must Christians alone sit on the common patrimony of the Taraba people through appointments and employments which are denied Muslims and non-Jukuns? That is your christianisation.
“Peace continues to elude your state because of this gross imbalance and open partiality. Only meritocracy and credibility can win peace. Taraba must set primordial sentiments like faith and ethnicity aside for the state to experience genuine peace and progress.
“MURIC appeals to other governors throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria to allow the composition and variety of their state’s population to truly reflect in the appointments and employments in their states, not only in matters of faith but also of ethnicity. Governors should not lean heavily towards their clans or religion at the expense of all others. This consideration should be without prejudice to merit.
“Make no mistake about our mission. MURIC is not attacking Christianity. We are on a mission for the promotion of good governance and peaceful coexistence. Governors, whether Christian or Muslim, must allow even development of manpower across boards. Citizens must be given equal access to education, employment and political appointments. This will have a direct bearing on peaceful coexistence, productivity and progress. Christian and Muslim politicians must not go into politics with the agenda of vengeance. Governors who are openly hostile to particular faiths or tribes are suffering from desertification of genuine values of patriotism and nationalism.
“Those who sincerely desire peace must realise that justice is the soul of peace. No one denies one and enjoys the other at the same time. The reason for the industrial and technological progress in developed countries is their ability to pursue meritocracy. Workers are employed based on their qualifications and abilities, not on their religious and tribal affiliations while none is denied employment on the basis of his or her faith.
“In our concluding remarks, we invite Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku to unite citizens of his state by addressing the complaints of Muslims and non-Jukuns. We suggest the setting up of a Committee on Good Governance with a view to plugging the holes in Muslim and non-Jukun circles.”