The government of Oyo State yesterday reacted to the allegation of lopsidedness in appointments into governing councils made by an Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC). Speaking yesterday (Thursday 9th July, 2020) through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, Governor Seyi Makinde denied sidelining Muslims of Oyo State. He said the Director of MURIC did not get his facts right before making the allegation.
But in a statement sent to media houses on Friday, 10th July, 2020, the Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, fired back at the state government. He described the governor’s response as escapist and deceitful.
MURIC said, “We are greatly amused by Governor Makinde’s response which was issued yesterday. His reaction is, at best, escapist, deceitful and pedestrian. Makinde is not sincere with Oyo Muslims. Discerning Nigerians can see how he dodged the issue of appointment of chairmen raised by MURIC and went instead to membership razzmatazz.
“We accused him of appointing six chairmen among whom there is only one Muslim. The rest are Christians. Instead of addressing the issue of chairmen, he delved into the issue of board members. That is executive escapism. The real issue is how many chairmanship positions did he give the Muslims? How many did he give the Christians? Nigerians are not so naïve. They know who holds the ace. Is it the chairman or the ordinary member who is a mere spare tyre? Power lies with the chairman. He is tangential. The member is just on the periphery. Makinde is playing politics with the welfare of Oyo Muslims.
“He also sidestepped the issue of appointment of commissioners raised by MURIC. We alleged that the governor appointed fourteen (14) commissioners but he only deemed four (4) Muslims fit for that position. He gave the Christians ten (10). This is despite the fact that Muslims are the majority in the state. So why couldn’t Makinde say something about his commissioners in his response? The governor has been too clever by half.
“Seyi Makinde also evaded the issue of his extravagant jamboree during the Christmas of December 2019 without a corresponding recognition of the Muslim festival marked four months earlier. This is public money and tax payers have the right to ask questions, particularly when one religion is being treated as the official faith of the state. Is Makinde going the Wike way? Is Oyo State a Christian state too?
“The fact that the governor came out to twist facts, distort history and accuse MURIC of failing to get its facts right before making allegations shows that Makinde is not remorseful. Yet nothing is worse than an unrepentant oppressor because he will do it again
“For the purpose of microscopic clarity, we affirm that MURIC has nothing personal against Governor Makinde. Not even for being a Christian. We believe that a state like Oyo can be ruled either by a Muslim or a Christian. We are not allergic to a Christian ruling Nigeria. Whether a leader is a Christian or Muslim is immaterial. What is important is credibility, competence, integrity and equity.
“The Muslims of Oyo State are also sons and daughters of Oduduwa like their Christian counterparts. Something is wrong if they cannot get the same treatment like the Christians. Something is wrong if Yoruba female Muslim students in Oduduwaland suffer stigmatization. Something is not right if jobs are reserved for Christian applicants alone.
“It makes a mockery of the so called religious tolerance in Yorubaland and any mention of an Oduduwa Republic must send shivers of worse treatment for Muslims in an Oduduwa enclave. The governor of Oyo State can do better by treating the children of Oduduwa equally without favouring the Christians among them alone. That is when people in the region can speak with one voice.
“It is equally didactic that MURIC was not the only Muslim group that accused Makinde of marginalization. The Oyo State branch of the Political Awareness Group (PAG) also made the same allegation in a press release issued on the same day that MURIC’s statement was circulated. PAG’s statement which was dated 9th July, 2020 was signed by its state secretary, Honourable Abbas Ademola Busari. It is instructive that PAG is for good governance, equity and justice. The fact that the Oyo State branch spoke up shows that it is on ground and knows what is happening. So what else can Seyi Makinde say? Is PAG also day-dreaming like MURIC
“Engineer Seyi Makinde is in dire need of re-engineering his administrative architecture. He has tilted too much to the Christian side. He should stop giving lame excuses. He can avoid a ding-dong between the Oyo State Government and MURIC. All he has to do is to address the real issues raised by us.
“Makinde can set his damage-control machinery in motion, for instance, by giving more Muslims chairmanship positions in other boards even without removing the Christians he has already appointed. He can also ensure that the post of commissioners are equally shared between adherents of the two faiths in his next cabinet reshuffle.
“Another example is the Id al-Kabiir (Ileya) that is just three weeks away. The governor can distribute Salah palliatives to the citizens two or three days before the Muslim festival to identify with the spirit of the Salah. We have no phobia for government celebrating Christian festivals but the same generous gesture should be extended to Muslim festivals as well in the interest of justice and fairplay. Have we asked for too much?
“Islam frowns on vindictiveness, therefore MURIC is not vengeful. We are in human rights with malice towards none, with charity for all. The well-being of our Christian neighbour is in our best interest for it takes nothing away from our own wellness. The sky is wide enough for all birds to fly. Our philosophy is live and let live. All we are after is a better Oyo State. We will continue to promote peaceful coexistence within the context of mutual respect. Let Engineer Seyi Makinde engineer Oyo State very well.”