The government of Benue State has approved Friday as a workfree day. This is one of the measures aimed at cushioning the effect of COVID-19 in the state. However, the measure is to run for three months only, from 6th November, 2020 to 29th January, 2021. This is to enable civil servants in the state to harvest their farm products during the period (https://www.akelicious.net/benue-state-govt-approves-fridays-as-work-free-day/)
In its reaction to the development, the Nigerian Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), which has been in the forefront of the campaign for a workfree Friday, has welcomed the three-month moratorium. MURIC described it as a half measure and a temporary relief for workers in Benue State. In addition, the group called on Northern governors and legislators to leverage on the directive by declaring workfree Friday throughout the year. MURIC’s observation came on Monday, 23rd November, 2020 through its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola
According to MURIC, “The hypocrisy of Muslim-haters has been exposed by the action of the Benue State government. Our critics claim that there would be confusion if Friday is declared a workfree day. But a whole state has gone ahead to declare the day free and heaven has not fallen in Makurdi. Though the state government’s intention has nothing to do with allowing Muslims to worship, it has served as a reference point. What it implies is that a workfree Friday is possible if the political will is there.
“The onus is therefore on Northern governors and legislators to set the ball rolling. If the Benue State governor can issue a directive to declare Friday free for three months to promote a bumper harvest, Northern governors and legislators have every reason to leverage on that by introducing workfree Friday bills in their houses of assembly which the governors can pass into law.
“The freedom of Nigerian Muslims is in the hands of their political leaders. Nobody is going to set them free until they are ready to break the shackles with their own hands. What is good for agricultural bumper harvest is good for robust spiritual fulfilment. It is also a wakeup call for Muslim the youth to go into politics in large number. The destiny of nations is shaped by politicians. Muslims who fail to participate in politics will be ruled by politicians who hate Muslims.
“MURIC calls on Nigerian Muslims to open their eyes very wide. Muslim families are scattered like wild oats every Friday. The father is working in the office while the mother is teaching in a school at a distant location. The children are learning in separate schools. The Muslim family cannot attend the same mosque together on Friday. Meanwhile Christian families go to the same church together and listen to the same sermon on Saturday and Sunday. This situation has far-reaching effects on spiritual development.
“What MURIC is saying in essence is that Nigerian Muslims are seriously shortchanged in the system and there is need for redress. The Northern states where Muslims are in overwhelming majority must wake up to this reality. The Federal Government (FG) is not ready to listen even though we have been on this campaign since 1993 when the director of MURIC published his 135-page book
Entitled ‘The Friday Question’
“It is also a potential area of interest whenever FG is ready for restructuring. The gross imbalance in the recognition of days of worship for Christians and Muslims must be addressed under restructuring. Those who are clamouring for restructuring should take note because restructuring must not be selective. It is supposed to address lopsidedness in all facets of the Nigerian life.
“A system that gives Christians two days (Saturday for Seventh Day Adventists and Sunday for other Christians) but gives nothing to the Muslims cannot be described as fair or just. It is a contravention of the law of natural justice. Two out of seven days per week for Christians and nothing for Muslims is grossly unfair. Mathematicians should put that together. It means Nigerian Christians are given 104 days out of 365 days of every year to worship their God. That is a whopping 28.57%! But the Muslims are given nothing. Yet our neighbours shout to high heaven that Nigeria is Islamised and the cry of ‘Islamisation’ rents the air.