Signed and Forwarded for distribution by: IBRAHIM TUDU,
SECRETARY GENERAL, GLOBAL NETWORK FOR ISLAMIC JUSTICE,
P.O. BOX 55, GUSAU, ZAMFARA STATE, NIGERIA
An Open Letter to President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria
The Conference of Nigerian Muslim Organizations Held on 27th April 2005 at the Supreme Council for Shari'ah in Nigeria, Kaduna
RE: PROGRESSIVE MARGINALIZATION OF MUSLIMS IN NIGERIA.
We feel constrained to write an open letter to bring to your attention, series of acts of injustice to Nigerian Muslims, who constitute the majority, sequel to our paid adversarials recently in some national dailies, particularly with reference to the issue of their systematic marginalisation and your insensitive response to the legitimate representation made to you by a delegation of Muslims scholars, elders obas and Emirs led by His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto. Reports reaching us indicate that a second delegation led by the Emir of Kano on the same matte, did not fare any better.
At the meeting you had with the first delegation led by His Eminence, the Sultan, you reportedly claimed that religion was never an issue or a factor for consideration in all your appointments! Your Excellency, as the President of Nigeria, whose constituency is the whole country, with all its ethnic and religious diversities, it was a shocking revelation to millions of Nigerians, especially the Muslims, that rather than discuss the real problem with a view to addressing it, your government has chosen to pretend it does not exist, or that even if it exists, it is a non-issue.
Perhaps it would be useful to refresh Your Excellency's memory by recalling a lecture you gave to a distinguished audience at the United State Institute of Peace, Washington D.C. on the 5th of October, 1991 on the topic - "Nigeria and Sudan - similarities and Dissimilarities", in the course of which you rightly observed that - "Power sharing and access to political and economic opportunities in Nigeria, though not fully matured, has nonetheless been part of our political culture since independence, especially vis-à-vis North-South and Moslem-Christian. I must quickly add that some people still feel short changed in the process." This is indeed what equity demands and, in the Nigerian setting, what the constitution, which you solemnly swore, twice publicly, to uphold and defend, stipulates.
With reference to your recent claims both in theU.S.A. and at home, that Christians and Muslimsconstitute 50:50%, we respectfully wish to referyou to:
a. The 1963 National Census figures which showed that Muslims account for at least 60% of the Nigerian Population;
b. The Cambridge Fact Finder, an internationally acclaimed reference book, puts the Muslim population at 50% and that of the Christians, at 34%;
c. The Financial Times World Desk Reference Book, puts the Muslim-Christian ratio at 50:40 respectively; while
d. The World Today, (a reference book which presents, in its ownwords, "essential facts in an ever changing world") gives Muslims 48% and Christians 34%. Your Excellency, may wish to confirm, from historians and sociologists, the fact that there is no country in the whole world that is more polygamous than Nigerian; and no Muslim Community all over the globe are more polygamous than Nigerian Muslims. International average annual population growth rates are simply not in tune with the reality of the Nigerian situation. One wonders, therefore where Mr. President obtained his figures of 50:50 Muslim-Christian Population!
In our view, the issue of population figures as it relates to Muslims and Christians in Nigeria is so important that -
a. we demand that you correct the inaccurate and misleading figures/percentages being peddled;
b. The true figures demonstrate the glaring injustice to Muslims in all your appointments. In regard, we ask Your Excellency if it is fair, just or in consonance with the Federal Character principle of our constitution to give Christians 73 delegates more than Muslims in the ongoing National Conference, appoint only a single Muslim constitute the majority in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Osun States? OR in your present cabinet of 42 out of which Christians have 26 while Muslims have to contend with only 16!
On the forthcoming National Census exercise, we would like to bring to your attention, two (2) conditions precedent for the participation of the Muslim Ummah. They are:
a. Reversal of the irrational decision to exclude religion in the questionnaires (which position CAN and OHANEZE, are also supporting) to ascertain the true population status of each religion; and
b. Urgent and transparent re-organization of the staffing of the National Population Commission (NPC) to ensure the reflection of the Federal Character Principle, especially the issue of religious representation. This is absolutely necessary for public confidence in the outcome of the Census exercise.
In this regard, we recall a statement recentlyattributed to the Christian on NPC, Mr. S.D.Makama and reported in the Sunday Tribune of20/11/2004, where he was quoted as saying - "2005Census may shock many Nigerians because it may becontrary to their expectations based on pastfalse figures."
On the issue of skewed representation in favour of Christians at the on-gong Conference on Political Reforms, we wish to state categorically, that Muslims will not accept the recommendations of the outcome of the Confab since the glaring case of under-representation of Muslims earlier tabled before you has not been redressed. In fact, recent revelations of a cabal pushing a hidden agenda in the form of a mysterious constitution at the conference, confirms our fears that the government is poised to foist a CAN agenda. We are alarmed at the tenacious desperation exhibited by your aides at the Conference in their effort to push through the alleged mysterious constitution which seeks to, among other things, not only repeal the Shari'ah but other fundamentals of the Islamic faith from the constitution.
All our past constitutions, as far back as Clifford's Constitution, had entrenched the secular idea of the supremacy of these constitutions over all other laws. All stipulated, as does the 1999 constitution, that "This Constitution is SupremeŠ" In the mysterious constitution being imposed for consideration at the Political Reforms Conferences, clearly your government appears determined to completely abrogate the Shari'ah system. It provides in section 1 (3) - "If any other law, customary or religious practice is inconsistent with the provisions of this constitution, this constitution shall prevail and that other law, shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void." One can dearly see the futility in Muslims attending the Political Reforms Conference, because it's like accepting a fait accompli.
Before we conclude, we would like to end this plea for justice and fairness by asking Your Excellency some simple rhetorical questions:-
a. It is Just or Fair to be flushing out Muslim Officers and Men of
Armed forces systematically, to ensure absolute control of the Military establishment by Christians as you have done in the last 6 years of your Presidency?
b. Is it sensible or equitable to have the whole structure of our
Armed forces, security agencies and the paramilitary under the total control of Christians?
c. Is it reasonable or in the interest of harmony and stability to
operate a government where Muslims are forced to hide their Islamic identity while Christians are encouraged to flout theirs with impunity, as is the case in our country's armed forces today?
9. In conclusion, we would like to suggest to Your Excellency that in
our considered view, it is not late to reflect Federal character (religion, region and Ethnicity) in all the areas of observed lopsidedness, especially in the armed forces, Police and Security service, heads of parastatals and Permanent Secretaries, if we are truly committed to the Unity, stability and peaceful coexistence in our country. In this regard, we wish to offer the following
i. Henceforth, all enlistments into the Armed forces, the Police and
other paramilitary organizations and traininginstitutions should be strictly on quota basis toensure transparency. In addition, the sale anddistribution of relevant forms to traininginstitutions like N.D.A, Zaria Depot, NigerianMilitary School, Police Academy and other similarinstitutions controlled by a cabal, must be mademore transparent. Also, the composition of theadmission boards must reflect our religiousdiversity.
ii. We are aware of cases of discrimination, intimidation and
arbitrary victimization of Muslims in the service. These should be promptly and carefully examined by an impartial board, reflecting our religious diversity.
iii. The Federal Government should take immediate steps to strengthen
the operations of the Federal character commission, to make it more effective in the discharge of its Constitutional responsibility. It is sad to note that the commission has not been alive to its responsibilities.
iv. A starting point in redressing the glaring lopsidedness in the
Armed forces and the security services, is the immediate retirement of all officers and heads of Agencies, already overdue for retirement, but are still being retained without any justification, other than religious favouritism for Christians against the Muslims.
Finally, if the Government's claim of fighting corruption and the enthronements transparency and accountability is to be taken seriously, we would expect Your Excellency to:-
a. Have the List of beneficiaries of all major contracts (including
those in the gas and oil sectors), allocations of oil blocks and the sale of all public properties and companies published before and after their approval; and
b. Pursue relentlessly, the investigation of all alleged cases of
corruption against your close aides, Ministers, State Governors and Heads of key Parastalas such as the Central Bank and NNPC, openly and fairly.
i. President of the States
ii. Speaker, House of Reps.
iii. All State Governors.
iv. Speakers of State House of Assembly
v. Foreign Embassies
_ The British High Commissioner,
- The American Ambassador,
- The German Ambassador,
- The French Ambassador,
- The European Union Rep.
- The Ambassador of South Africa,
- The Ambassador of Egypt,
- The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia,
- The Ambassador of Australia,
- The Ambassador of Canada,
vi. - The Secretary General, U.N.
- The Secretary General, A.U.
- The Secretary General, ECOWAS,
- World Islamic League,
- Organization of Islamic Countries,
- Human Right's Watch,
- Amnesty International.