The new executive council of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit held its first State of the Nation press conference on Monday, August 18, at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest, Nigeria.
The conference led by the new Amir (President) of the Muslim Students’ body, Mr Miftahudeen Thanni addressed plethora of challenges bedevilling Nigeria as a country and advised the government on methods of tackling them.
Muslim News recalled that Mr Thanni emerged the Amir of the most vibrant State in Nigeria on Sunday at a virtual electoral conference held in Lagos with the theme, ‘Building A Sustainable Future’.
MSSN Lagos expressed worries over the security situation in the country, saying despite gains, security agencies need to do more.
According to Mr Thanni, “As a student-based organisation, we are concerned about the increasing cases of ritual killing and rape. We appeal to government at all levels to always remember that the security of lives and property is their primary responsibility.
“In Lagos State, we call on the government to extend street lights to more areas to curb the nefarious activities of criminals. We also condemn the reports of recurring habit of extorting Lagosians by security officers. This is dangerous for our security architecture and we appeal to security chiefs to urgently address this.”
The Graduate of Political Science at Lagos State University (LASU) also decried the poor funding of the education sector, stating that massive investment in education is a guarantee for achievements in economic development.
He said, “This is an area that is very germaine to us. Without mincing words, it is our primary constituency. While we acknowledge the government’s efforts in ensuring development in the education sector, there are obvious and unpardonable lapses. This gangrene speaks for itself and affects the entire educational chain – primary, secondary, and tertiary.
“The poor funding of education in the country is having a negative effect on output across all levels. The government must understand that massive investment in education is a guarantee for achievements in economic development and the well-being of their citizens. Also, we appeal to the organized private sector and philanthropists to complement public spending”.
He called on Nigerians to learn global best practices from other nations that have gotten it right in their education sector and be consistent with its educational policies.
MSSN also urged the government to create a conducive environment for business to thrive amid the increasing unemployment rate in the country as a result of the emergence of COVID-19.
“The suffering is too much. It has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics shows that unemployment in the country has risen by over 27%. There is no better time for the government to create a conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive. Nigerian youths are hardworking, what a majority of us need is that little push from necessary quarters.
“Also, there should be consistency in government policies. The idea of nullifying a business when it has grown and reached maturity is unfair. It leads to sudden unemployment, with several aftermath effects like suicide, robbery, and even depression among others.”
Reopening of Schools
Mr Thanni welcomed the reopening of schools after three months of lockdown, adding however that it comes with grave consequences.
He said, “Considering that markets and other open places have been opened, there would be no convincing reason to shut schools down. But how prepared are these schools to accommodate these pupils and ensure that COVID-19 does not spread among the students?
“No doubt, Coronavirus has exposed the weakness and poor standards of our schools. Ideally, the facilities required to ensure compliance with COVID-19 guidelines are supposed to be the basic things that should be readily available in our schools like hand-washing materials, running water, etc.
“COVID-19 has revealed the failure of successive administrations to invest adequately in education. The government must take full responsibility for whatever happens to students. They must guide against molestation and harassment of the students,” added.
Mr Thanni vowed that the body will not entertain any case of hijab harassment or molestation of any kind, adding that defaulters will not only be sued for violating the Appeal Court verdict but also ensure that they are shamed publicly with their names published.
He appealed to government across all levels to assist private schools with palliatives, saying it will help to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on their teachers.
“This has been done in other sectors and education should not be left out. We are scared that there may be a massive job loss in many private schools with COVID-19 not likely to go away any time soon.
“We also appeal to both teachers and schools’ management to show common understanding and be compassionate,” he noted.
According to Amir Thanni, “Without a doubt, many projects are ongoing both in Lagos State and Nigeria at large. But the inconveniences caused by some ongoing construction is disturbing, causing excruciating pain and stress to commuters.
“Though a popular adage says ‘no pain, no gain’, it is our view that we can mitigate the pains through planning and timely execution. We urge both the state and the federal governments to hasten up ongoing projects without compromising quality,” he added.
Other issues discussed at the press conference include:
“In any society, hate speech should be a crime. But what constitutes hate speech must be clearly defined. It is inappropriate for the government to consider criticisms as hate speech.
“Nigerians are angry and unpleased with the recent application of the reviewed Nigerian Broadcasting Code and it would only be appropriate for the government to reverse it.
“Freedom of speech is fundamental. Denying citizens such freedom defeats the essence of government. Though some Nigerians may be wayward in their speeches, the government should be conscious that what the citizens say is dependent on their programmes and activities”.
He said, “We are particularly impressed by the Lagos State Government’s efforts to eradicate Coronavirus in the state. The state has demonstrated good leadership in tackling this crisis and pandemic. Kudos to the governor and his team on this.
“However, the activities of some government officials have formed the basis for some Nigerians to doubt the existence of COVID-19 in the country. This is highly unfortunate. COVID-19 exists and it has killed many people. Those in power must comply with the guidelines given by the NCDC and the Federal Government on COVID-19. They must serve as good examples for others to follow.
“We are also concerned about how COVID-19 donations are being distributed. It will be appropriate for state governments to properly inform the public the distribution mechanisms,” he said
“The controversy surrounding the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System is saddening and weakens our hope in the reformation of the education sector. If not for the Coronavirus pandemic, universities in the country will currently be on strike.
“The IPPIS in our view would help to fight ghost workers and reduce personnel cost, which is laudable. But ASUU opposed it vehemently, arguing that it would affect university autonomy. We will not like to join the blame game. We implore both ASUU and the FG to reach a consensus on this. It will be unfair for this resolvable difference to affect the resumption of millions of Nigerian students.
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