About 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world will be celebrating the Id al-Fitr within the next 48 hours. Id al-Fitr is the festival which marks the end of Ramadan. Already the Federal Government of Nigeria (FG) has declared tomorrow Tuesday (5th July) and Wednesday (6th July) as holidays.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) felicitates with the President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad Sa‘ad Abubakar III, Nigerian Muslims and all Nigerian citizens on this memorable occasion.
We seize the opportunity availed by this festival to appreciate the efforts being made by the FG to reduce hardship among the citizens in these austere times. In particular, we thank FG for its free lunch programme for all school pupils, its reduction of waste in government establishments and its war on corruption.
Nonetheless, MURIC calls the attention of the Federal Government to the rising poverty and hardship among the populace. The signposts are scary.Just a few days ago, a family man exchanged his 5 year old son for a bag of rice for which he could not pay at Singer Market in Fagge Local Government area of Kano State. Media reports say that theft of food being cooked on fire is now rampant in Ilorin.
A teacher stole gari in Oshogbo. Also a few weeks ago, a soldier shot a policeman in the leg while both of them were struggling for rice in Maiduguri. People are selling their properties to feed their families. Most state governments can no longer pay salaries. Many civil servants are taking to begging.
Cooking smoke has not been seen from the chimney of many houses for days. Most text messages nowadays solicit for ridiculously little amounts of money for feeding. Most Muslims found it easy to fast this year because they had been used to hunger for months. Nigeria is drying up.
We are fully aware that the present administration is not to blame for Nigeria’s current woes. Past regimes had not only failed to save for the rainy day, they had also manifested unparalleled greed, monumental avarice, reckless waste and unbridled corruption.
We remind the FG that Islam advocates tangible support and palpable palliatives for the suffering jamaaheer (masses). Muhammad the Prophet of Mercy (SAW) said, “A man who fills his own stomach but ignores his hungry neighbour is not a good Muslim”. He also said, “Be merciful to those on earth and He who is in heaven will be merciful to you”.
MURIC therefore suggests that apart from the free lunch for school pupils, the FG should introduce the following welfare packages:
1. One meal per day for all men and women above 60 years old (senior citizens);
2. Free lunch for all civil servants and school teachers wherever salaries have not been paid for at least two months and
3. Sale of food items and provisions to civil servants and teachers at subsidized rates.
To round up, we charge Nigerians to be their brothers’ keepers. Orphans, widows and little children should be singled out for acts of philanthropy. Nigerians are urged to sustain the lessons of Ramadan among which piety, patience, self-restraint and perseverance are most prominent. There is no gainsaying the fact that support for the FG’s war on corruption and patience in the face of the raging poverty are the first steps towards ensuring the sustenance of these lessons.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)