Imam Blames FG Over Ethno-religious Crises
By Chinwendu Nnadozie , Reporter Minna
Islamic cleric, Imam Muhammad Ashafa, has blamed the Federal Government for the series of ethno-religious crises in parts of the country.
"You cannot lure an individual into voting for you during elections only to deprive the person of certain rights when it comes to distribution of social amenities or dividends accruable to other citizens within the system," he said. Ashafa, who spoke to Daily Independent, traced some of the crisis he described as avoidable to Federal Government's policy of demanding for regional, religious tribal status from among Nigerians before employments are offered to them.
Ashafa, also the co-joint executive director, Inter-faith Mediation Centre, (Muslim-Christian dialogue forum) based in Kaduna, faulted some of the Federal Government's policies, which he claimed, were giving rise to disaffection among ethnic and religious groups in the country.
He regretted that what is happening in some states is a reflection of what is obtainable at the national level where issues of quota system is highly celebrated and wondered why the Federal Government should not adopt, "State of residence instead of state of origin and as well, principles of quota system be abolished."
"If we truly want to pursue the oneness and equality of every citizen of this country," Ashafa, who is also the leader of the muslim group that fought Christians during the Zango-Kataf mayhem in Kaduna State before he repented and now a crusader of peaceful co-existence, said, "Imbalances in school fees obtainable in some states, rights of ownership of properties, issues of quota system in admissions and related benefits be abolished."
"A situation whereby a southerner seeking for admission in a school in the north is made to under-go extra ordinary rigours before being admitted or vice versa for a northerner seeking for admission in a southern school is also another way of fueling ethno-religious differences and must be stopped," the religious leader said.
He traced the Jos, Plateau State; Taraba, Benue, Kano, Kaduna, Ife-Modakeke and crisis in some other parts of the country to discrepancy in the ownership of land, lack of equality in benefits and social discrimination and suggested that, the Lagos system of everybody having equal rights to social amenities and landed properties based on your financial capabilities be adopted in all parts of the country.
"Nigerians are suffering because of this quota system syndrome, which promotes indigeneship and similar nomenclature. What we need to do to have a new Nigeria is to remove indigene clause and apply spirit of sportsmanship to move beyond where we are.
"Instead of inclusive we create issues of exclusion in our system and that is part of the problems we have as a nation." Ashafa said Nigeria should learn from what happened in America whereby issues of tribe or race were de-emphasized in leadership.
"Let us be judged by the contents of our character and not by the contents of our religion, tribe or racial considerations," he advised.
The cleric also advised Federal Government to "abolish any regional, tribal and religious concept that causes division among us as a nation and emphasize on issues that will not only guarantee unity, bring honour and glory not only to us as individuals but to the most populous black nation in the world. "Take for instance, when we talk about image branding and re-branding, wooing investors and making our environment conducive for economic growth to thrive. All we need is to promote peace and harmony through favourable government policies and programmes; by so doing visitors and other expatriates can testify through the number of investments we have been able to convince them invest in Nigeria instead of spending monies on image re-branding and similar tendencies we are hearing about."