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‘Christians Enjoy More Holidays In Nigeria Than Muslims’ —- MURIC Sends Fresh Demands To Buhari

Gbemileke Ajayi

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As Nigerian Christians join their counterparts throughout the world to celebrate the New Year on Wednesday, 1st January 2020, the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has alleged lopsidedness, partiality and persecution of Muslims in the manner the Nigerian government dishes out its holidays.

Rising from an emergency meeting where it deliberated on the latest allegation of persecution by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), MURIC insisted that the last public holiday, which was declared by the Federal Government on 1st January 2020, has exposed CAN as a body which enjoys shedding crocodile tears.

MURIC’s stand was contained in a press statement released on Friday, signed by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.

MURIC said in the statement, “CAN claims it is being persecuted but fails to substantiate its allegation in concrete terms. However, the last holiday of Wednesday, 1st January 2020 which is an annual event has exposed CAN. Nigerian Christians enjoy the New Year holiday on the 1st of January every year even without asking for it because that was the arrangement made by the British colonial master. But CAN still claims ‘persecution’ even though it is placed at an advantaged position.

“Nigerian Christians have 1st January to enjoy their first day of the year. Nobody can deny that this happened two days ago. But when the Muslims’ first day of the year comes (1st Muharram), there will be no holiday. When will CAN put itself in the Muslims’ shoes? Or rather when, indeed, will the Nigerian government give the Muslims what the colonial master denied them but gave the Christians? When will the Muslims get justice in this country? Here is a persecution of Muslims that even CAN cannot deny. It happened just two days ago and we all saw it? Or is the granting of a holiday for a Christian occasion and the denial of the same to Muslims another form of persecution of CAN?

“Christians have five out of the eight holidays enjoyed by Nigerians. Muslims have three only. Yet CAN claims persecution. Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year Day, Easter Monday and Good Friday are all for Christians. We dare CAN to deny it. Are these not concrete privileges enjoyed by Christians? Are the five holidays we mention here mere fallacies? Muslims only have three, namely, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy. Is there any mathematical inexactitude in our calculation? Should CAN be complaining at all with this kind of setting?

“We make bold to say that CAN knows what it is doing. The Christian body knows that it has an edge over the Muslims as it enjoys everything it needs and even more. CAN knows that it is the Muslims who are denied certain fundamental human rights but it is determined to maintain the status quo. The modus operandi adopted by CAN to ensure that Muslims never get their rights is to perpetually cry out with claims of persecution and also to oppose every attempt to give Muslims their rights.

“This game played itself out when Shariah was introduced in some Northern states from 1979 onwards. They claimed it was an attempt to Islamise Nigeria. Shariah was introduced and nobody changed the country’s nomenclature to the ‘Islamic Republic of Nigeria’. CAN did the same thing when Islamic banking was about to be introduced. Cries of Islamisation rented the air. Islamic banking arrived but we are yet to see how it has Islamised anyone. This was repeated on the issue of Sukuk (Islamic bonds) and both Christians and Muslims are benefiting from the Islamic Sukuk today.

“MURIC will not be deterred from pursuing Islamic liberation theology to a logical conclusion in Nigeria. We assert clearly, categorically and unequivocally that Muslims are in bondage in this country. Why should one group get all the honey in the land while the other is ignored? We demand equal rights and justice. We demand parity, particularly on the issue of holidays. Christian 1st January is just 24 hours and the Muslim 1st Muharram is no less. Why should the Federal Government recognize one and deny the other?

“Just two days ago, we joined other Nigerians in sending goodwill messages to our Christian neighbours. Governments at federal and state levels felicitated with Nigerians on that occasion. Parastatals and important dignitaries also congratulated Nigerians. MURIC also issued a statement greeting Christians in Nigeria. We do this every year despite the fact that our own 1st Muharram is not recognized. But nobody will remember Muslims on 1st Muharram. Is this fair?

“‘When beggars die, there are no comets seen. The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes…’ William Shakespeare was right when he put those words on the lips of Calpunia, the wife of Julius Caeser as she begged her husband not to venture out on the ides of March. Isn’t this very germane to the issue on ground? The drums are rolled out by the government on 1st January. But they are conspiratorially silent on 1st Muharram. Is this justice? Are we really working for enduring peace in this country? What have the Muslims done to deserve this treatment?

“It is important to note that even the three holidays enjoyed by Muslims were reluctantly given after several years of post-independence. There were no holidays for Islamic festivals in colonial days. It was that bad.

“To add salt to injury, the Federal Government has never responded in spite of a deluge of petitions received from Muslims. MURIC has been demanding the 1st Muharram holiday since its formation in 1994 (26 years). It is highly provocative. It is a dereliction of duty on the part of the government. A father who gives preferential treatment to its children is not uniting the family. Is government waiting until the demand snowballs into another struggle? MURIC will not partake in that. But what does it cost the government to take a bold stand on this matter? It is not about the Buhari government per se. Successive administrations have failed to address the issue.

“Already, some state governments have recognized 1st Muharram, mostly from the North. Osun under Rauf Aregbesola (current Minister of Internal Affairs) and Oyo under Isiaka Ajimobi also did and heaven did not fall. So what stops the Federal Government from taking the cue? By the way, Muslims in those two states of the South West have written the names of those two former governors in letters of gold.

“The question now is: how does President Muhammadu Buhari want to be remembered by Nigerian Muslims? Can the declaration of 1st Muharram as a public holiday be a drift towards Islamisation? Predictably, yes, particularly by CAN. But we can take the wind out of their sail by placing 1st January and 1st Muharram parri passu. The public no longer takes CAN serious anyway.

“MURIC wishes to put the Federal Government on notice. The next 1st Muharram will fall on Thursday, 20th August 2020. The government has a whole eight months to plan and prepare its mind. It also has an extra three days in the third week in August to declare Thursday a holiday in recognition of 1st Muharram. To be or not to be? That is the question. MURIC does not issue an ultimatum. Neither is a threat in our character. We are a dialogue-loving body. But the government’s body language will tell Nigerian Muslims what to do and whoever thinks the Muslims of Nigeria are still the same as they were five years ago will be making a gross miscalculation.

“As we sign out, we remind the Federal Government that it is high time it listened to the Muslims’ demand for the declaration of 1st Muharram as a public holiday in parity with 1st January public holiday. CAN has no moral right to claim persecution as Nigerian Christians enjoy five holidays while their Muslim counterparts have three only. FG should promote unity and patriotism by treating all equally. Neither should the government allow one group to lord it over the other.”

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Federal Government Plans Petrol Alternative, To Crash Fuel Price To N97

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The Federal Government on Thursday said it would crash the price of petrol by providing Compressed Natural Gas as an alternative source of fuel for vehicles nationwide.

The CNG is a fuel that can be used in the place of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol. It can also be used in the place of diesel and Liquefied Petroleum Gas.

Speaking on what the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources would work on this year during a press conference in Abuja, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, stated that the Federal Government was working for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill before May.

He further stated that moves by the Federal Government to recover $62bn from international oil companies were seemingly impossible, as no such money was sitting anywhere to be harvested by the country.

Sylva further declared that the Nigerian oil and gas sector was retrogressing, particularly when compared to the oil sector of other nations.

He stated that the use of petrol had caused a serious drain on the finances of the Federal Government as a result of the continued subsidy on the commodity.

Explaining how the government intends to crash petrol prices, Sylva said, “When you say we are thinking about reducing the pump price of petrol, I could easily say yes. Why I could say yes is because we are looking at giving the masses an alternative.

“Today, we are using the PMS but what we want to do, going forward is to see that we are able to move the masses to the CNG. If we take all transport vehicles to the use of the CNG, you would have impacted the poor positively.”

Sylva said findings by the government showed that the CNG cost less than the subsidized PMS and that once the CNG was fully deployed, the price of fuel would crash.

“The subsidized rate of the PMS per litre is N145 but the CNG cost between N95 to N97 per litre and that is why I said that we want to reduce the cost of fuel,” he stated.

He said Nigeria had abundant gas and that deploying the CNG would not be tough for the country.

“Nigeria’s gas reserve is significant. Nigeria currently has estimated 202TCF (trillion standard cubic feet) of gas, with a projection of 600TCF,” Sylva said.

On the PIB, the minister said, “We are optimistic that both the Petroleum Industry Governance Administration and Host Communities Bill, on the one hand, and the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill, on the other hand, will be passed within the first anniversary of the second tenure of this administration.”

Commenting on moves by the Federal Government to recover $62bn from international oil companies based on an October 17 judgment of the Supreme Court, Sylva stated that it was practically impossible to recoup such funds from the IOCs.

He declared that no $62bn was anywhere for release by the IOCs and explained that it was best for the government to sit and discuss with the oil firms on how to go about the issue.

The Federal Government had through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation written to the IOCs, demanding various sums of money on the basis of the Supreme Court judgment.

The court had ordered the Federal Government to recoup all revenues lost to oil-exploring and exploiting companies due to the wrong profit-sharing formula since August 2003.

Sylva said, “Yes there was a provision in the amended Deep Offshore Act, but when we had crude oil prices above $20 per barrel, the Federal Government should have asked for some form of an increase in its take.

“Unfortunately we didn’t activate that aspect. You will not blame the Federal Government or the oil companies for not activating that aspect of the Act. You will agree that $62bn could not have been sitting somewhere for us to harvest; it is not possible.”

The minister stated that Nigeria was retrogressing in the oil sector, particularly when compared to other nations that started at similar times with Nigeria in the oil and gas business.

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Ghana Emerges 3rd Most Corrupt Country In The World

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Ghana has emerged as the third most corrupt country in the world in the most recent version of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

The West African country scored 67 points in the rankings released earlier this week.

Another African country, Kenya, also made the top 10, occupying the 8th position with 53 points.

Colombia is perceived to be the most corrupt country in the world, according to U.S. News’ 2020 Best Countries rankings, a characterization of 73 countries based on a survey of more than 20,000 global citizens.

In the survey, respondents answered how closely they related each of the countries to the term “corrupt”, the exact meaning of which was left to their own interpretation. The attribute is factored into the Best Countries rankings for transparency, as well as the best countries to invest in and headquarter a corporation.

Colombia, which sees an estimated $14 billion a year in corruption-related costs, experienced a wave of anti-government protests starting at the end of November. A new set of strikes could ensue after protest leaders meet with government officials later this month.

While the country is known for its decades of political scandals, voters recently elected Claudia López, a member of Colombia’s green party and a prominent activist, as the mayor of Bogota. López is the first woman and openly gay individual to become mayor of Colombia’s capital city.

Mexico, known for its deadly drug cartels, follows Colombia as the No. 2 most corrupt country in the 2020 ranking. Myanmar, Guatemala, Saudia Arabia, Brazil, and Bolivia also made the top 10.

Russia, which has been accused of election meddling and Olympic doping, joins the top 10 list this year after placing No. 12 in 2019.

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Catholic Church May Bar Fr. Mbaka From Preaching Over His Partisanship Prophecies —- Archbishop

Peter Okunoren

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The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Adewale Martins, says the Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, could be banned from preaching if he continues to deviate from the doctrines and tenets of the Catholic Church.

Martins, who was appointed Archbishop of Lagos by the Pope in 2012, said this during an interview with the BBC Igbo while reacting to Mbaka’s prophecy that Hope Uzodinma would emerge as governor of Imo State.

Mbaka had on New Year’s Eve prophesied that Uzodinma would emerge as governor in 2020, a prophecy which came to pass on Tuesday when the Supreme Court sacked Emeka Ihedioha and named Uzodinma as the duly elected governor.

Reacting to the prophecy, which has stirred heated debate, the archbishop said Mbaka was under the Diocese of Enugu and did not report to him.

He, however, said if Mbaka continued in the manner he was doing things, the Catholic Church may bar him from ministering.

Martins said, “Fr. Mbaka falls under the authority of the Bishop of Enugu Diocese and therefore he has the responsibility of cautioning him. I can imagine that this must be giving the bishop some challenges.

“It must be giving him a bit of a headache and I feel sorry for him and I hope he will find some way of dealing with this matter that has been recurring. Of course, what could be done in the end is either to say, ok you receive the sanction of being stopped from public ministry. That is a possibility. If it is not done, there must be a reason.”

Martins, who was ordained a priest in 1983, said the Catholic Church does not engage in partisan politics.

He said even if Mbaka received a prophecy from God, he ought to ensure that his conduct corresponds with the scriptures and the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

The archbishop added, “It is utterly surprising that Fr Mbaka would go as far as naming one person as governor against another. It is embarrassing when you hear of priests or people in a position of authority making statements that are clearly partisan.

“The position of the Catholic Church on matters that have to do with politics is not to be partisan. Of course, we as a church cannot be oblivious to political events and happenings in the country or the world at large and therefore we must speak from the point of view of principles.

“The priest who believes he has a gift of prophecy has to test whatever has been told to him in the light of the scriptures, in the light of the teachings of the church and in terms of the authority that has been given to leaders in the church.”

Martins said Mbaka’s behaviour was at variance with the teachings of the Catholic Church and he had fallen below the standard expected of priests.

Mbaka, who was ordained a Catholic priest in 1995, has been known to give many controversial prophecies.

In 2002, he prophesied that the then Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, would not return to office in the election but the governor won a second term.

In 2015, Mbaka prophesied that President Goodluck Jonathan would lose to the current President, Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), which came true.

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