Islamic scholars in the country have called for a national ethical rebirth warning at the weekend in Abuja that the current moral status of te nation could lead to doom, and a failure to build what they characterised as good government and a society of justice.
The scholars expressed these views in a communique they isued after a two-day meeting at the Abuja National Mosque tagged the Nigerian Muslims and Democracy Conference, which featured such notable community leaders like Prof. Dawud Shittu Noibi, the Executive Secretary, Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), the Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, who declared the conference open, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, the former Executive Governor of Kano State who is also the Sardaunan Kano, as well as members of the diplomatic corps.
“we are worried about attempts to stifle the practice of democracy in a way that marginalizes Muslims and deprives the citizenry of the fruits of good governance” the scholars said warning at what they claimed is a lip service commitment to democracy in the country today which they say is due for urgent review. They also illustrated the current failure at building a democratic nation with the spate of extra-jucicial killings in the land warning security forces to be more sensitive to this challenges.
There was no pointd mention of the problem of sectarian terror via the operations of Boko Haram in some states in the north east, north west and north central state of the country but the scholars talked of their “dismay [at] the prevalence of poor Human Development indices in Muslim majority areas, characterized by high rates of maternal and infant mortality, unemployment, adult illiteracy, roaming bands of almajiris, low enrolment and performance at all levels of the educational system, as well as rising poverty.”
The challenge of youth life, inter-faith dialogue, and the need for islamic vaues in leadership and governance were also debated at the meeting where the scholars resolved to be guided by “the Madina Model State that was religiously pluralistic and multi-ethnic” and that “we shall put in place machinery for meaningful dialogue with other faith communities to foster harmonious and peaceful coexistence.”
Text of Communiqué
A coalition of Muslim organizations in Nigeria, held a conference tagged “Nigerian Muslims and Democracy Conference 2012” at the Abuja National Mosque from April 14th to15th , 2012. (22nd – 23rd Jumada Ula, 1433AH).
Under the theme “the Political Future of Muslims in Democratic Nigeria”, several papers were presented by leading scholars and intellectuals and thoroughly discussed. The topics covered key challenges facing the Muslim Ummah in the current political dispensation and a wide range of critical national issues amid growing concern about the security situation in the country and the apparent failure of the Government to secure life and property. Participants were drawn from different Muslim organizations from all parts of the country.
The opening ceremony was chaired by Prof. Dawud Shittu Noibi, Executive Secretary, Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN) and graced by several distinguished personalities including the Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal CFR, Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, who declared the conference open, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar CFR, mni, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, the former Executive Governor of Kano State and SardaunanKano, representatives of some governors and members of the diplomatic corps.
After serious and in-depth discussions around the theme of the conference, the following observations and resolutions were made:
As Muslims, we note with satisfaction that Islam, our religion, means peace and urges peaceful coexistence and that Muslim society is known in history to have been pluralistic, multicultural and tolerant. We further re-affirm our faith in the continued existence of Nigeria and our commitment to its unity and territorial integrity.
We observe the lip-service that has continued to be paid to democracy by the country’s leadership and we are greatly alarmed at the ominous direction that the issues of governance have taken; we are worried about attempts to stifle the practice of democracy in a way that marginalizes Muslims and deprives the citizenry of the fruits of good governance.
We are alarmed at Nigeria’s embarrassing descent into a state of near anarchy, considering with great regret and dismay the parlous state of the security and law and order situations in the country. The spate of extra-judicial killings is not only disturbing but a clear indication that we are not in a true democracy.
We note with dismay the prevalence of poor Human Development indices in Muslim majority areas, characterized by high rates of maternal and infant mortality, unemployment, adult illiteracy, roaming bands of almajiris, low enrolment and performance at all levels of the educational system, as well as rising poverty.
We observe that the practice of democracy in Nigeria in the last several years has been devoid of freedom of choice, accountability and people centredness –supposed core attributes in any form of democracy. There is therefore the need to restore consultation, accountability and justice to their rightful place in our democracy.
We note that Muslims do not want wholesale adoption of western styled democracy, because, as currently practiced in the country, ‘democracy’ corrupts the youth, repels women and even men of good morals, as it is morally bankrupt, anti-family, highly monetized, lethally violent and unprincipled.
We are worried that our leaders have over the years been perceived to be weak, ineffective and out of touch with the aspirations and hopes of the citizens, as seen in their inability to exemplify high moral character and be result oriented, in a way that inspires the followership.
We observe that the perpetual dwindling of the quality of education and the failure of the older generation in mentoring the youth have continued to deprive them of the necessary opportunities for developing their political and leadership potentials. Sadly enough, many Muslim youth are continuously conscripted into gangs recruited for political thugery and unleashing of horizontal violence in the communities.
We note the efforts of other faith organizations in fighting bad governance and promoting good leadership in this country. There is therefore the need to engage constructively with members of other faiths to tackle common problems. The Holy Qur’an refers to Christians as those closest in understanding to Muslims and laid down the basis of interaction and dialogue with them.
Say: “O People of the Book, come to common terms between us that we worship none but God, and that we ascribe no partners to Him; and that we shall take no lords besides God. Then, if they turn away, say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims.” Qur’an 3:74
We note with satisfaction the level of attendance of different Islamic organizations at this conference and the enthusiasm in participation. In the course of deliberations, a lot of concern was expressed about the need for greater Muslim unity across the entire as well as synergy and consultation amongst all Islamic organizations.
The Conference has therefore resolved on the following:
In keeping with the history of pluralistic, multicultural and tolerant Muslim societies, we reaffirm our commitment to the unity and territorial integrity of Nigeria. While keeping faith with Nigeria’s potential for greatness, we strongly condemn the current attempts to tear our society along sectarian and sectional lines.
Guided by Islam’s sublime values of justice, fairness and good governance, we continue to demand from those at the helm of affairs, efficient and effective service delivery, social justice, improvement in the standard of living, as well as protection and advancement of people’s rights and freedoms.
In view of the deteriorating security situation in the country, we strongly condemn all perpetrators of crime and violence; decry government’s poor handling of the situation and its refusal to investigate whether some people in and outside government may be complicit, leading to unnecessary loss of human lives, economic paralysis and deepening state of fear. We therefore implore government and all insurgents, to take the path of dialogue and other lawful measures, with all the seriousness the occasion demands and bring thisstate of near anarchy to an end. We further call for an immediate end to the extra-judicial killings and unnecessary harassment of the citizenry under the guise of security checks.
Conscious of our poor Human Development indices, we will vigorously sensitise and mobilize the Muslim Ummah on ways of mitigating the socio-economic and educational challenges facing it, thus transforming it into a well educated, highly skilled, economically vibrant and socially inclusive community.
Noting that Muslims constitute the majority of the nation’s population, we shall continue to fully and meaningfully participate in the political process, so as to bring the noble and sublime values of Islam to guide and enhance good governance in Nigeria.
In keeping with our worldview, history and values, and noting that democracy is a flexible framework, it is our duty to modify and customize the basic tenets and principles of democracy, in a way that allows all men, women and youth of integrity to consciously and purposefully offer themselves for service.
Towards restoring confidence in our leaders and hope in the followers, we urge Muslim political office holders to be morally responsible, exhibit Islamic leadership qualities, and put in place policies and programmes that will truly transform the living conditions of all citizens. We further call on Islamic organizations to organize specialized training programmes for the realization of the above.
Noting that youth are critically important to the future any nation, we resolve that we will design broad-based and elaborate programs for leadership and social responsibility training of the youth, create mechanisms for engendering positive interaction between the older and younger generations in our communities and implore governments to formulate and institute youth re-orientation programmes.
Guided by the Madina Model State that was religiously pluralistic and multi-ethnic, we shall put in place machinery for meaningful dialogue with other faith communities to foster harmonious and peaceful coexistence.
Convinced about the need to promote unity amongst Muslims all over the country and enhance synergy amongst Islamic organizations, we agree to set up a steering committee to actualize the vision of having a federation of Islamic Organisations in Nigeria, that will provide a framework to drive the implementation of the decisions of this conference and other issues of concern to the Ummah.
Finally the coalition of Muslim organizations in Nigeria and the Organizing Committee of the conference wish to thank all the organizations, individuals and groups that attended the conference and assisted in one way or the other in making it a success.
Prof. Ibrahim Na’iya Sada
Chairman, Organizing Committee
Prof. Dawud Olatokunbo Shittu Noibi, OBE
Co-Chairman, Organizing Committee