AN OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY, LUCKY ORIMISAN AIYEDATIWA, THE GOVERNOR OF ONDO STATE.
Gov Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa,
The Governor, Ondo State, Nigeria.
REGARD FOR THE SENSIBILITY OF OUR LEADERS AND UMMAH
On Monday the 29th of January 2024, the leadership of the Ondo State Muslim Community met with your esteemed self to complain about the age-long marginalization of the Muslim Community of Ondo state by previous governments.
They complained about strategic exclusion of the community in appointments and government programmes and engagements.
This age-long insensitivity and deliberate lopsidedness in appointments has led to government policies and programmes not favourable to the Muslims as a community and antithetical to the development of the Muslim Child in Ondo State.
They expressed their fears that your government might have decided to continue with the muslim marginalization agenda, most especially when the first four cardinal appointments you made after being sworn in as Governor, and all other appointees were people of the Christian faith.
The Muslim Youths in the state became perturbed, when another Christian was announced to occupy the vacant Deputy Governorship position. In order to ensure peace and civility, the leadership of the Muslim Community quickly waded in and assured the youths that they would meet with you to register our dissatisfaction.
Headed by His Eminence, Sheikh Ahmad Aladesawe, the Grand Imam of the State and Chairman of the League of Imams and Alfas, Ondo State, the leadership of the Muslim Community indeed met with you and expressed their fears about the foreboding tide of grand discrimination that your appointments represented.
They pleaded with you to halt the age-long marginalization of the over two million Muslims in the state by including them adequately in your government. Unfortunately, our distinguished elders departed with a sense of disappointment because, rather than proffer solutions to the issues of concern, you justified the decisions you had made with tact and diplomacy.
(1) The issue of marginalization of the Ummah in government appointments and engagements.
(2) They informed you that their children were being forced to learn Christian Religious Knowledge in school.
(3) They lamented to you that government has reduced the Muslim Community to sub-humans through deliberate exclusion from government activities.
Most unfortunately sir, instead of addressing these burning issues, the key point of your response was that: “Political interest overrides religious consideration” in making appointments.
Your Excellency, we are still lost at sea as per what you meant by this condescending statement. During campaigns, our Imams are not only openly courted but are also met privately to seek their support and blessings with the aim of securing the votes of their congregations and constituents.
Is your Excellency now telling our leaders that religious consideration is cardinal to wining elections but pedestal or inconsequential in making appointments to government? How come then that 100% of your early appointments are given to people of the Christian faith in a state where the Muslim population approximates 40%?
We want to assert with no apology, what all social scientists know, that inclusivity is a cardinal principle of democracy and good governance.
You also bluntly told our leaders that their children have the option of leaving public schools to go attend Quranic Schools, when they complained that their children were being forced to learn Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) instead of Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) in Ondo State public schools. You “graciously” advised us to take our children away from the schools being funded with our tax payers money if we are were not satisfied with the unjust status quo.
Your Excellency, we are not unaware that successive Ondo State governments have deliberately refused to employ Islamic Religious Knowledge and Arabic Language teachers into the public schools in the last 21 years. This has led to non-availability of tutors to teach Muslim children these subjects.
The school administrators as a result, are forcing the Muslim Children to learn Christian Religious Knowledge. Our leaders intimated your esteemed self with this unwholesome development, that is socially engineered against our community, as their new governor, but the best they got in response was that they had the choice to take their children to Quranic schools! You will agree with us, Your Excellency, that this issue needs a reassessment from your esteemed self.
Your Excellency, your officers in the educational sector must have misinformed you to proclaim that the IQTE, also known as Al-Majiri/Nomadic school project was sponsored by SUBEB. The Integrated Quranic and Tsangaya Education project is a Federal Government programme aimed at introducing the basic education curriculum into the traditional Quranic and Arabic schools in the North.
The project was later introduce to the South and is fully funded by the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC. SUBEB and some private organisations with stake in the Educational sector only help in the monitoring and supervision of the project at the state level.
Factually speaking, Your Excellency, Al-Majiri school project is no substitute for our robust tradition of excellence in public primary and secondary education in Ondo State, pioneered by no other than legends: Chief Obafemi Awolowo and your predecessor in office, PA Michael Adekunle Ajasin.
You will therefore understand why it was utterly shocking to us that you proposed withdrawal of our children from public schools and enrolling them in Al-Majiri/Nomadic school as solution to the allegation that school administrators in our state, acting as agents of our state government, are forcing Muslim Children to learn Christianity in our Public Schools.
Your Excellency, you asserted that the Muslim Community did not engage you before you made the appointment of your Deputy; that otherwise, you would have considered a muslim. Sir, you were indeed robustly engaged.
Several letters were written by various Muslim organisations in Ondo State and properly received by staff of your office, requesting you to consider one of Ondo State’s best, a Muslim, a quintessential professional, a noble son of Owo and two-time governorship hopeful under your party. Perhaps, your staff decided to not bring those correspondence to your notice. Therefore, your Excellency, it leaves a sour taste in our mouth to hear you say we did not make a request to you on the matter.
Your Excellency, barely four days after our fathers and mothers came complaining to you that the appointments you have made so far fell short of sensitivity to religious diversity of the state, you have made another nine cabinet level appointments, comprising six commissioners and three Special Advisers and none of them is a Muslim.
We want to add for emphasis that Razak Obe and Oseni Oyeniyi are not, and do not claim to be Muslims; and if they want to so do for political reasons, we challenge them to announce the names of their imams and their mosques.
Your Excellency, judging by the way your appointments are being made, we are forced to ask if there is no capable person of Islamic faith in your party, the APC or in the entire Ondo State fit for top posts of government? This trend baffles us, to say the least. Is there indeed no Muslim qualified to be Commissioner or Special Adviser in Ondo State or is this amounting to making a mockery of our pains?
Your Excellency, we sincerely want to keep a positive mindset, but truth be told; we are trying hard to not believe that muslims of Ondo State have no place of importance in your heart. So, Your Excellency, we ask pointedly: Are you set to correct the inequity the Muslim Ummah of Ondo State suffers or are we back to our state of helplessness?
Please accept our highest regards and best wishes for success as you proceed to pilot the affairs of our dear state to greater heights.
Long live Ondo State.
president, Muslim Student Society Of Nigeria, Ondo State Area Unit.
1, The President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
2, The National Chairman of APC
3, President Muslim Ummah of South Western Nigeria
4, President General, Supreme Council for sharia in Nigeria
5, The Sultan of Sokoto & President General Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs
6, Speaker Ondo State House of Assembly
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