As the 2023 general election draws near, Muslims in Lagos have rejected the purported endorsement of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for a second term in office by the Governors Advisory Council (GAC), describing the move as ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.
The Muslims stated that they do not have any personal issues against the governor but that they were against the move by the GAC, which they claim was aware of the earlier arrangement, particularly before the 2019 election.
According to them, their objections were based on the fact that Christians have had their two terms and that it was the turn of Muslims to produce the next governor for Lagos in 2023.
The Muslims under the umbrella of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), expressed their disagreement with the stance on Monday, arguing that the decision would amount to another Christian governor ruling the state for another term at the expense of Muslims.
“Unfortunately, this endorsement violated a long-standing, albeit, unwritten rule on rotational governance between Christians and Muslims in Lagos State. It is on record that ex-governor Akinwunmi Ambode, a Christian, spent four years in office and another Christian, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was brought in ostensibly to complete the Christians’ two terms, which expires by May 2023, when a Muslim, ceteris paribus, is expected to take over the reins of office.”
While stressing that any plan to ensure Sanwo-Olu served another term would result in injustice, the group threatened that they could be voting against the ruling party, unless the issue is ironed out at a roundtable between leaders of the party, GAC, the Lagos State Government and Muslims across the state.
In a statement released by the Director of the group, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, they disclosed that the party should approach them through the leadership of Prof. Tajudeen Gbadamosi, for the purpose of negotiation and further disclosed that all Islamic organisations across Lagos State were under this body.
“We must sit down and discuss this if the ruling party has any respect for Muslim voters in the state. We must recognise democracy as not only a game of numbers, but also as a game of negotiations, particularly in a multi-cultural and multi-party state. We must remember that the peace and harmony being enjoyed in Lagos State today is a result of the pursuance of justice and equity. Nothing should be done to jeopardise this peaceful atmosphere.
“For instance, if the Christians are going to enjoy the luxury of a third term by giving Sanwo-Olu the mandate to run for a second term, an agreement must be reached with Lagos Muslims, guaranteeing twelve years of Muslim rule after Governor Sanwo-Olu. Anything short of this tantamounts to an attempt to shortchange Muslims in the state.
“The narratives have changed. Muslim leaders are no longer satisfied with crumbs from the table. Giving the Imams rams during festivals and sponsoring Muslims on hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), are deliberate means of enslavement and marginalisation. Lagos Muslims are now fully aware of the gimmicks.
“Those periodic and ephemeral palliatives are tools of divide et impera. They are mere window-dressings designed to shield Muslims away from participating in government, from tangible employment for Muslim graduates and from real economic empowerment. We refuse to be fooled satisfied. We will rather be enlightened citizens than dissatisfied. It is our common patrimony. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul.”