The National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO) Lagos State Chapter, the umbrella body for Muslim youths in the State, has called on Muslims to obtain their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), called on the Lagos State Government to improve funding of education, and make roads motorable for development.
The call was contained in an address delivered by the Coordinator of the Council, Alhaji Isiaka Salami, at a press conference to commemorate Democracy Day held on Monday 13th June, 2022 (Yaom l-Ithnayn, 13th Dhul-Qadah 1443AH) at the Council’s office inside the Multi-Purpose Hall of the Lagos State Secretariat Community Central Mosque, Alausa-Ikeja, Lagos State.
Below is the full text of the address,
Member(s) of NACOMYO National Executive Council;
Members of NACOMYO State Executive Council;
NACOMYO Zonal Coordinators and Zonal officers present;
Gentlemen of the Press;
Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
_As-Salam alaykun wa rahmatu llahi wa baraka tuhu!_
Gentlemen of the Press, I am glad at the opportunity of meeting you once again at this Press conference organised by the National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO) on this year’s Democracy Day, a day set aside to remember the infamous annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election.
Gentlemen of the Press, you will all agree with me that the significance of this year’s Democracy Day include a deep reflection on what led to the annulment of the June 12 1993 Presidential Election adjudged to be the freest and fairest election ever conducted in the annals of this Country, and the various events that followed which culminated in the death of the winner of the said election – Late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola in July 1998.
Reflection on the incidents of June 12 1993 is necessary in view of the fact that another general election is coming up in the Country in less than a year from today. Nigeria, can be said to be on the “march again”. We pray may the “March” be to greatness and unity of our dear country.
For us in Lagos State, our Dear Centre of Excellence, today provides us with another opportunity to once again reflect on happenings in the State especially as they affect the Ummah (the Muslim Community), and as the umbrella body that represents the interest of Muslim youth in the State, how those happenings affect the Muslim youth.
*2.0 THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS VIS-A-VI THE MUSLIMS’ INTEREST*
Gentlemen of the Press, brothers and sisters in Islam, as we are all aware, the general elections in Nigeria have been scheduled for next year 2023. In Lagos State, elections will be held to elect the State Governor, 40 members of the State House of Assembly, 3 Senators, and 24 members of the House of Representatives (to represent the State at the 10th National Assembly).
In preparation for these elections, political parties have conducted their primaries to choose their flagbearers at the elections. *We humbly remind Muslims in the State that as stakeholders in political happenings in the State, it is the civic duty of Muslims of 18 years and above to obtain their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) in order to be eligible to vote at the elections.*
It has to be emphasised at this juncture that politics and political activities involve the projection and protection of one’s individual and collective interests. Participation of Muslims, by voting at the elections, is to ensure that we participate in electing those that will protect our fundamental and Allah’s (S.W.T.) given rights and not those that will brazenly or covertly deny us our rights. Come to think of it, asking for the protection of our rights as Muslims, from those holding or aspiring to hold public offices, should not be regarded as asking for too much or being inordinate with our demands. In anyway, we cannot afford to stand akimbo and watch events that have impact on our lives without our inputs.
Gentlemen of the Press, specifically on next year’s gubernatorial election and who becomes the Governor of Lagos State, it is apposite to refresh our memory that sometimes in 2012 the Christian Community in Lagos State, led by its apex body; the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), demanded that the next governor of the State (after the then incumbent Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola) must be a Christian.
It would be recalled, that the Muslim Community pointed out the danger of playing religious politics (as contained in the said CAN’s demand), especially when the agitation of CAN (for a Christian governor) was not based on the performance index of the 2 previous governors (which were unarguably good and enviable). CAN went ahead with its demand which eventually produced the duo of His Excellences Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (2015 – 2019) and the incumbent Mr. Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu (2019 till date) for an uninterrupted 8 years of Christian governors in the State.
It is thus expected that after 8 years of having taking a “bite at the cherry” by our Christian counterpart, the next governor of the State should unconditionally be a Muslim. But the set-up in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) seems to have jettisoned this religious-political postulation of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) with the proponent, CAN as a body, keeping mute because the jettisoning favours it.
We hereby state that we refuse to be deluded by this antic. We refuse to shy away from the responsibility of demanding for what is due to us as Muslims. We decided not to play up our demand on the issue at this period due to happenings in the Country and the State in particular.
However, we like to lay down the gauntlet that it will definitely be our demand that come 2027, the next governor of our dear State must insha Allah, be a Muslim. We hope those who introduced the arrangement in 2012 and other stakeholders in the State will reason along with us on the expediency of the next governor being a Muslim, and not try to dissuade us with rhetoric and principle the proponent arrogantly and impudently refused to listen to in 2012. May Allah (S.W.T.) preserve our lives till 2027 and beyond.
*3.0 THE STATE OF EDUCATION IN LAGOS STATE*
Gentlemen of the Press, permit me to begin the Council’s reflection on the state of education in Lagos State by reiterating the fact that part of the Council’s aims and objectives (as enshrined in NACOMYO’s Constitution) is to strive for the advancement of the education of the Muslim youth. This is one of Allah’s (S.W.T.) command to Muslims and taught by the seal of all prophets – Muhammed (S.A.W.).
In pursuance of this primordial aim, the Council having reflected on the state of education in Lagos State hereby commends the State Government for keeping to the free education policy it inherited for the State’s founding fathers. However, we need to carefully examine how free and affordable is the free education as being implemented by the State Government?
This critical examination of the State’s free education policy has become necessary in view of the fees being charged at the State’s educational institutions (for some courses), and the State’s budgetary allocation to the education sector.
Recently, the State Governor signed into law the Bill converting the Lagos State Polytechnics, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, and Michael Otedola College of Primary Education to universities to add to the existing Lagos State University (LASU). We observe that fees being charged at these institutions are gradually taking some choice courses out of the reach of children and wards of the ordinary citizens. We are of the opinion that if this trend is not urgently and properly addressed the free education policy of the State Government may not make any meaning to Lagosians.
In the same vein, the Council is of the considered opinion that the budgetary allocation to the education sector has, over the years, been falling short of the United Nation’s recommendation for budgetary allocation to education. It is not in controversy that UN’s recommendation for education is 25% of the State’s budget.
In Lagos State, the “pendulum” of the State’s education budget has been swinging between 11% and 12% with its attendant adverse effect on the education of millions of youth in the State. For example, in 2021, the State allocated #146 Billion (One Hundred and Forty-six Billion Naira) to education out of the year’s amended total budget of #1,256,567,592,651 (One Trillion, Two Hundred and Fifty-six Billion, Five Hundred and Sixty-seven Million, Five Hundred and Ninety-two Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty-one Naira). The education budget represents 11.61% of the total budget for 2021.
The trend was not different in the 2022 Budget where the State Government allocated #171,672,545,711 (One Hundred and Seventy-one Billion, Six Hundred and Seventy-two Million, Five Hundred and Forty-five Thousand, Seven Hundred and Eleven Naira) to education out of the total #1,388,285,459,990.51 (One Trillion, Three Hundred and Eighty-eight Billion, Two Hundred and Eighty-five Million, Four Hundred and Fifty-nine Thousand, Nine Hundred and Ninety Naira, Fifty-One Kobo). The education budget represents 12.37% of the total budget for 2022.
The situation becomes more pathetic and appalling for the sector when one considers the large chunk of the budget allocation that will be expended on recurrent expenditures and the remaining meagre amount that will be for capital expenditures.
We are of the position that the failure of the State Government to get close to the UN recommendation of 25% budget allocation is impacting negatively on the fortune of education in the State. We therefore call on the Government to ensure adequate funding of its institutions and ensure the bid to sustain this does not in the long run contravene the free education policy of the State.
*4.0 BAN ON COMMERCIAL MOTORCYCLE (OKADA) IN 6 LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS*
Gentlemen of the Press brothers and sisters in Islam, recently the Lagos State Government banned the operation of commercial motorcycle (popularly known as “Okada by land” or “Okada”) in 6 local government areas and their LCDAs. The affected local governments are Apapa, Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, and Surulere.
It would be recalled that the ban took effect on the 1st day of June, 2022 in the affected local governments and their LCDAs. The Council hereby commends the bold decision of the State Government on the operation of commercial motorcycle in the affected local governments especially when one considers the need for safety of lives of citizens of the State in the light of dangers inherent in the activities of most operators.
However, we are of the opinion that the State Government needs to urgently, and as a follow-up to the ban, address the issue of the deplorable state of most access roads in the State, not only in the 6 local government areas but in all parts of the State. It is only when our roads are motor-able in all parts of the State that an effective transportation system could be created which will bring about rapid economic growth and ultimately confine the use of okada to history.
Lastly, we call on the Government that the implementation of the ban should not be politicised and not to create the impression in the discerning minds that probably the Government has invariably created an elitist class of local governments with the 6 among the local governments in the State. In the same vein, the idea of *“The First Mile and Last Mile Transportation System”* (the Government came up with not quite long) should be well implemented first to provide easy access to inner roads and communities in the State before this decision to ban the “okada” operation in the said areas. As this would help in alleviating the pains of commuters in these areas.
Lastly, we need to point out that the multitude involved in the business of “okada” transportation are not all uneducated, or foreigners, but a quite number of them are educated Lagosians. Engaging in that trade is an indication of the need to further formulate policies that would get trained hands gainfully employed. To this end, we call on the State Government to implement policies in this regard and NACOMYO is ready and willing to partner with the State Government as critical stakeholder.
*5.0 THE COUNCIL AND GOVERNANCE OF THE STATE*
Gentlemen of the Press, we had, over the years, made known our readiness to be partaker in the governance of the State by offering constructive advice on issues affecting Muslims and the youth in particular. The State Government has consistently neglected our call in this regard.
Events and happenings in the Country and our State in the past 2 years further underscore the need to include God-fearing and intelligent youths in the scheme of governance. We are of the strong belief that the Council deserves a seat and position in the State’s Pilgrims Welfare Board and other State’s boards and committees on Islamic matters and youth affairs. We hope the State Government will consider this call in the spirit of today’s Democracy Day. The Muslim youths are ready to take our rightful place in the scheme of things in the State. Is the State Government ready to accommodate us?
Gentlemen of the Press, as we join Nigerians in commemorating the unjust annulment of the June 12 1993 Presidential Election we pray to Allah (S.W.T.) to bring peace to our Dear Country Nigeria and our Dear State, the Centre of Excellence.
Long-live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Long-live Lagos State!!
Long-live the Muslim Ummah (in Nigeria and in Lagos State)!!!
Long-live the National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO)!!!!
Happy Democracy Day.
Thank you all for listening.