…Addresses ISI Hijab assault, BBC sex for grades saga, Xenophobia other top issues
Barely few days after Nigeria’s 59th Independence Anniversary, The Muslim Congress (TMC) has called on Nigerians to despair not, over the present situation of the country but rather rekindle their hope for a better Nigeria in the spirit of patriotism.
The body also reacted to the recently released BBC ‘sex-for-grades’ documentary that indicted some University of Lagos’ lecturers, urging other tertiary institutions in the country to investigate and punish any lecturer found guilty.
TMC, one of Nigeria’s leading faith-based organisations made the call during its quarterly State of the Nation Press Conference held at the National Headquarters, Jibowu, Lagos.
The President of the Society, Dr. Lukman AbdurRaheem noted that the Independence anniversary is another opportunity for the country to reflect and take stock of its activities so far.
According to him, “Nigeria celebrated its 59th Independence Anniversary on 1st October, 2019. It was another moment for reflection and stock-taking. There is a motley of opinions extending to the extreme as to whether the performance of Nigeria is worthy of its chronological age.
“As bad as things may seem, it is indeed necessary to state that it is not gloom. Granted that Nigeria is still far away from the position of our dreams, we have also not stood still at the same point. Nigeria has advanced as a nation in terms of credit financing especially for SMEs, increase in agricultural production, enhancement in training and equipment for the armed forces, increased budgeting and better deployment and on-going efforts at providing better infrastructural facilities.
“This is not the time to lose hope in our country but rather a time to rekindle our hope and the spirit of patriotism to contribute our best quota in the progress and development of the nation. We are hopeful and confident that better days lie ahead in the near future.”
ISI Hijab saga
The Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) also backed the position of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) on the lingering Hijab crisis at the International School (IS) of the University of Ibadan.
The NSCIA, an umbrella body of Muslims across the country had earlier condemned the denial of female Muslim students the right to use the Hijab at the International School, University of Ibadan.
“We recall that the use of Hijab had since November 2018, been generating a lot of controversies and crises, which made parents of some Muslim students to jointly sue the school, its principal, University of Ibadan and Chairman of the Board of Governors, who also doubled as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University”.
“The latest was the suspension of a female Muslim student, Miss Ikhlas Olasubomi Badiru, for wearing Hijab in July this year after school hours as reported by the media.
“We are also aware that about 38 Muslim Professors from the University had also recently petitioned the Prof. Idowu Olayinka-led administration of the University over what they described as a deliberate action of denying Muslims participation in various important statutory meetings”.
While waiting for the court to make its pronouncements, the Society urges the Vice Chancellor and Council of the University to retrace their steps by allowing Muslims have their rights in the University.
“The University management must ensure it is committed to the liberating ideals that an academic institution guarantees for its people and the society.”
Speaking on the recently released report of the BBC on the proliferation of sex-for-grades in Nigeria’s educational institutions, the body called for the suspension and prosecution of the culprits in a court of law and if found guilty, be so sentenced.
He also advocated for the enactment of the Sexual Harassment In Tertiary Education Institution Prohibition Bill of 2016.
“The BBC Sex-For-Grades report has further highlighted what we already know to be happening in our universities. The sex-for-marks crisis rocking our universities needs to be tackled headlong in two ways.
“First, any lecturer found culpable should be suspended by the respective institution of learning and made to defend himself at the court of law. If the person is proven guilty, he faces the penalty stipulated by the law.
“In 2016, the Senate passed the Sexual Harassment In Tertiary Education Institution Prohibition Bill. This bill which stipulates a five-year jail term for any lecturer, educationist or person in a position of authority in any tertiary institution in Nigeria found guilty of such conduct should be revisited and passed into law.
“Secondly, female students who are found guilty of contravening school code of dressing where there is one, should be suspended and females found to have gone out of their way to seduce their lecturers should be dismissed from the university with immediate effect. This way, we will be on our way to putting a stop to this deplorable situation”, he noted.
On the closure of our land borders, the Amir noted, “The recent border closure by the Federal Government means in part that the busiest land border in Nigeria, Seme, remains closed. This has affected several workers and traders who commute between Benin Republic and Nigeria. The government intends to stop the fraudulent export of petroleum products and importation of second-hand vehicles, rice and some other products through land borders.
“It also aims to stop the influx of arms and ammunitions into the country through smuggling. This border closure will help Nigeria reduce the rising cases of smuggling and help develop local capacity. The Custom Service has also recorded daily increases in revenue generation since the border closure commenced and especially generating a record 115 billion naira in the month of September alone.
“But the closure should be a temporary approach put in place while a permanent solution is being worked on. Part of the problems this border closure brings is that it hurts legal exports from and imports into Nigeria and also creates artificial scarcity with the consequent rise in consumer prices of certain products. Several trucks of major consumer companies who move goods into neighbouring regional markets through the borders have also been affected.
“While we commend the government for the courage to take this bold move, we also urge that the unintended effects should be mitigated”, he advised.
The body further commended the federal government on it’s handling of the Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, while urging the government to see to the immediate and full implementation of the new minimum wage.
It also sued for the investigation of parties involved in the Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) case and ensure it creatively reduces cost of governance through reduction of political offices and allowances.