Indications emerged last week that the jostle for inclusion in the cabinet of the next federal administration had intensified as some Muslims pleaded with President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu to give more ministerial appointments to members of their own faith than their Christian counterparts.
They begged Tinubu to give Muslims in Muslim-majority states at least four ministerial appointments per geo-political zone after his inauguration.
There are six states in each of the six geo-political zones viz South-South, South-West, North-Central, North-East and North-West.
Only the South-East has five states.
The 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that each of the 36 states of the federation must have one native in the federal cabinet.
Section 6, Part 1, Section 147 of the Constitution, titled, ‘Ministers of Federal Government’, says specifically: “3 – Any appointment under Subsection 2 by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of Section 14 (3) of this Constitution: provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each state who shall be an indigene of such state”.
The implication of the Muslims’ lobby is that any geo-political zone where people of their own faith are in the majority, Muslims should have four Ministers in the Tinubu cabinet while Christians should be contented with two.
They listed affected states to include Taraba, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Kogi, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Niger, Kaduna, Kebbi and Lagos.
The lobby is coming on the heels of the controversy generated by the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which won the February 25, 2023 election.
Those in favour of the ticket had said what was important was the competence of the presidential candidate and his running mate while those in opposition said the development would embolden Muslim hardliners to try to Islamize the country.
Separately, the lobbyists made a case for a top job for the outgoing governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, in the Tinubu administration.
They initiatially wanted a ‘juicy job’ for the governor before changing their words to ‘top job’.
The Muslims, who spoke under the aegis of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), made their case in a statement titled ‘MURIC to Tinubu: Give Muslims in Muslim-Majority States Four Ministers Each’
“As Nigeria warms up for the inauguration of a new administration under the able, tested and trusted leadership of President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu, we remind the incoming President and other Nigerians of past political marginalization of Muslims in Muslim-majority states since independence”, the statement signed by Professor Ishaq Akintola, MURIC Executive Director, said.
Citing the marginalisation of Muslims in some parts of the country under successive administrations despite being in the majority and the opportunity the Tinubu presidency presents to redress the development, the statement said: “We are deeply disturbed that it is only in the core-North where we have states like Sokoto, Borno, Katsina, etc that the right of Muslims to be included in governance is respected.
“Former Christian military Heads of State and civilian Presidents have deliberately marooned Muslims from the political architecture of Muslim-majority states.
“Christians, who were appointed governors over Muslim-majority regions and states, were secretly given instructions to either turn or shake the demographic table in favour of Christianity. “Unfortunately this happened at a time when Muslims were still suffering from paucity of political consciousness in those regions and states.
“Examples of past denial of Muslims in participatory democracy can be found in the appointments of Col David Bamigboye as military governor of Kwara State, a predominantly Muslim-majority state (May 1967 – July 1975) by General Jack Gowon (rtd). Lt. Col. Francis Adekunle Fajuyi was also appointed military governor of the Western Region by General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi.
“The South-West had earlier been led mainly by Christian political leaders featuring Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola and Chief Victor Babaremilekun Adetokunbo Fani-Kayode. The Christianisation agenda of the South-West had also been championed by Christian military administrators and governors like Lt. Col. Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, Mobolaji Johnson, Christopher Oluwole Rotimi, Navy Cap Akintunde Aduwo, Col. David Jemibewon, etc.
“Obasanjo and Jonathan out-Heroded Herod. All the six Ministers appointed by them from the South-West were Christians and Muslims were totally excluded from federal appointments under them. Worse still, they appointed Christians as Ministers from core Muslim states like Bauchi, Kwara and Kaduna.
“This policy of total political blackout for Muslims in Muslim-majority states is contrary to the principles of participatory democracy. It is heartless political exclusion and the height of religious apartheid. We condemn it in the strongest terms.
“Therefore, as the new dawn of political inclusiveness promised by President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu approaches, we demand total departure from the past tortuous political marginalization of Muslims to complete political integration of Muslim citizens in all geo-political zones.
“In particular, MURIC demands at least four ministerial appointments each for competent Muslims out of the six ministers earmarked for every geopolitical zone where Muslims command majority after Tinubu’s inauguration. “We urge governors in Muslim-majority states to avoid marginalizing Muslims in nominations for ministerial posts.
“We refer specifically to states like Taraba, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Kogi, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Niger, Kaduna, Kebbi, Lagos, etc.
“Nigerian Muslims demand fair representation. We demand inclusiveness and full integration into the Nigerian political space. This is without prejudice to the preference for competence.
“The records set by Professor Ishaq Oloyede (JAMB Registrar) and Professor Isa Ali Pantami (Minister of Communications and Digital Economy) in office remain indubitable proof of hidden administrative icons among Nigerian Muslims although only unbiased Presidents and governors will find them.
“We are not asking Tinubu to sacrifice excellence on the altar of mediocrity. We have no scintilla of doubt that there are eminently qualified Muslims in all fields of human endeavour.
“We assert clearly, emphatically and categorically that failure to find suitable Muslims in any state of the federation for a ministerial appointment is like failure to find coal in Newcastle.
“Of course it is only logical that Ministers from states like Sokoto, Borno, Kano and Jigawa will all be Muslims while those from Enugu, Anambra, Rivers and Cross Rivers will be an all-Christian affair. The governors in those states may give one or two minorities appointments as commissioners and board members.”
In another statement titled, ‘El-Rufai Deserves Juicy Post’, the group hinged its position for a ‘juicy’ post for El-Rufai under the Tinubu administration on the role played by the Kaduna governor and eleven fellow governors from the North in ensuring that the South got the mandate during the APC presidential primary.
“As the days inch closer to the inauguration of the new administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigerian political spectrum has been inundated with power struggle intrigues and post allocation schemes. This is not new to us since we know that failure is an orphan but winners are always surrounded by all and sundry”, the statement said.
“However, we deem it germane to remind the president-elect of the need to pay debts owed and appreciate those who made his current status a fait accompli. This is important in order to start sowing the seed of success for the incoming administration as well as to secure a strong foothold for 2027.
“Gratitude is a major characteristic of a good Muslim. Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an, ‘If you are grateful, I will increase my favours on you…’ (Qur’an 14:7). If the president-elect shows appreciation to the ‘Noble Dozen’ from the North, he will enjoy more of their solidarity.
”It is noteworthy that the ‘Noble Dozen’ (i.e. the twelve governors who insisted that power must shift to the South) was led by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
“There is no Nigerian who is unaware of the unique support and unequalled solidarity given by this northern group to the president-elect. El-Rufai in particular left his palatial office in Kaduna to spend days in Abuja.
“His contribution to our victory, the victory of the Muslim-Muslim ticket is unquantifiable. He became the mouthpiece of the Muslim-Muslim ticket camp, moving from one media house to another. We must not allow all these to go in vain”.
But in another statement about 24 hours later, entitled, MURIC Withdraws The Word ‘Juicy’, Replaces It With ‘Top’, Apologises, the group said: “Our attention has been drawn to the word ‘juicy’ used in yesterday’s statement as not being decent enough.
“In the statement, we canvassed for a top post to be given to Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State in the incoming administration. We inadvertently used the word ‘juicy post’ instead of ‘top post’ It is not in our character to be insolent, loose or to use vulgar language.
“We hereby withdraw the word ‘juicy’ and replace it with the word ‘top’. We apologise to all those who might have taken note of the offensive word.”