The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has condemned the Federal Government for granting official recognition to 1st January for Christians to enjoy while ignoring the numerous petitions from Muslims dating back to the 1960s demanding recognition for 1st Muharram as the first day of the Islamic calendar.
The MURIC Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, in a statement said the Federal Government declared Tuesday, 1st January 2019, as a public holiday thereby keeping faith with the practice since colonial days into Nigeria’s post-independence period.
“Nigerian Muslims feel marginalized. The reality of the Nigerian situation has subjected Muslims in the country to religious segregation. 1st January 2019 was declared by FG in recognition of the Christo-Western Gregorian calendar.
“In essence, FG recognizes the Christian calendar but spurns the Islamic calendar despite several petitions and appeals to it dating back to the 60s. In particular, MURIC has consistently made this demand at least for the past 10 years.
“This is religious apartheid. From Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to Muritala Muhammad, from Ibrahim Babangida to Sani Abacha, Musa Yar’adua and now Muhammadu Buhari, no Muslim Head of State had the political will to bell the cat.
“Though we are not unaware of the strategy of agents of neo-colonialism whose stock-in-trade is to blackmail Muslim heads of state with the ‘Islamization’ agenda in order to put them permanently on the defence, we expect that every Nigerian leader must possess the courage to enthrone justice and equity,” Akintola said.
He however commended some state governments in the Northern and Southern Nigeria who have recognized the Islamic calendar and declared 1st Muharram as holiday, citing former Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State and Governor Isiaka Ajimobi of Oyo State.
According to him, the fact that state governments did it and heaven did not fall shows that FG also can do it.
“What FG lacks is the political will. We are telling FG that the courage to fail is cheap while the will to succeed is worth a king’s ransom.
“FG needs to wake up from slumber and do the needful. Justice delayed is justice denied. The time to attend to our grievance is now,” he said.
He also warned the government to brace up for peaceful confrontation with Nigerian Muslims or grant equal status to 1st Muharram by declaring the day as a public holiday like 1st January.