The month of Ramadan is grinding slowly to an end and Muslims all over the world are warming up for Id ul-Fitr which is the festival marking the end of Ramadan.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) reminds Nigerians of the lessons inherent in the fasting exercise. Apart from its health-related gains, Ramadan instills piety, reduces the propensity for profligacy, compels empathy, pegs immorality and engenders high-level discipline. These gains will be lost unless Nigerians allow these lessons to reflect in their lives ad infinitum.
According to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the beginning of Ramadan opens the door of blessings, its middle facilitates spirit of forgiveness while its end symptomises emancipation.
MURIC therefore calls on Nigerians to show mercy to their fellowmen, to forgive those who have offended them and to liberate all those in bondage. With respect to the commencement of Ramadan which epitomizes the manifestation of mercy to one another, we appeal to state and local governments as well as wealthy Nigerians to set up ‘stomach welfare centers’ where hungry Nigerians can eat at least once daily. The Federal Government should also establish a new ministry to be called ‘Welfare Ministry’ to serve this same purpose.
On the middle of Ramadan which signifies forgiveness, we call on Christians, Muslims and Traditionalists in Nigeria to evolve joint orientation programmes where emphasis will be placed on the lessons of love, tolerance and forgiveness. Fate has joined us all together in this country and the best we can do is to think first of saving our country from disintegration and total destruction.
As the end of Ramadan teaches liberation, we charge Nigerian authorities to immediately review all anti-people policies wherever and in whatever form they are being imposed. Let Nigerians go! Too many people are suffering. Too little people are enjoying. The masses only hear of trillions and billions of naira. Yet there is no bread on their tables.
Examples abound of such draconian policies: the new vehicle licence plate number should be given free to those who already have old ones. Vehicle owners did not obtain the old plate numbers gratis. Now they are being made to pay twice for the same product because plate numbers do not expire. It is out-Heroding Herod to compel vehicle owners to pay for the new one.
Motorcycles confiscated from okada riders should be returned to them after three weeks. The seizure should be temporary, not permanent. The policy which allows permanent seizure lacks human face. It is spreading hunger and recruiting desperate foot-soldiers for robbery kingpins.
On the demolition of structures, adequate compensation should precede demolition and not vice versa. Aesthetic beauty is good for our environment but not at the expense of depriving people of their means of sustenance and places of abode.
Still on liberation as an integral part of the lessons at the end of Ramadan, MURIC charges governors to visit prisons at the end of this Ramadan to free prisoners awaiting trial, those whose offences are not so serious, elderly ones, nursing mothers and pregnant women among the inmates.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan should seize the opportunity of the Ramadan freedom package to take a decisive action capable of securing the freedom of the Chibok girls who are now in their 104th day in Boko Haram hideout. To Boko Haram leadership, MURIC says, “Let our girls go!”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)