The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has advised those criticising President Muhammadu Buhari over the recent appointment of Major General Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to desist from “misleading the public”.
The Islamic human rights group made the remark in a statement on Wednesday by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
The statement reads:
“Some Nigerians are making a mountain out of a mere mole hill. The recent appointment of Major General Farouk Yahaya as the new COAS has attracted a tornado of criticisms. Unfortunately most of the comments were short in objectivity but long in sentimentality.
“MURIC will like to place the issue in its proper perspective in order to put the records straight. Many of the criticisms were full of outright lies and deliberate inexactitude. Some falsely claimed that the South has produced only four COAS against the North’s seven.
“For the records, Victor Malu, a Christian from Benue State was COAS from 1999 to 2001. He was succeeded by Alex Ogomudia, another Christian from Delta (2001 – 2003). Martin Luther Agwai who was also a Christian from Kaduna State took over from 2003 to 2006. Agwai handed over the baton to Owoye Andrew Azazi, another Christian from Bayelsa (2006 – 2007). Luka Yusuf, a Christian from Kaduna served in the same capacity from 2007 to 2008. He was succeeded by Abdul Rahman Danbazzau, a Muslim from Kano (2008 – 2010).
“Azubuike Ihejirika, a Christian from Abia State, came on the scene from 2010 to 2014 and he was succeeded by another Christian from Rivers State, Kenneth Minimah (2014 – 2015). Tukur Buratai, a Muslim from Borno State and the longest serving army chief had a taste of leadership of the Nigerian Army in 2015 and he left office in 2021. Ironically, he was succeeded by the shortest serving COAS, Attahiru Ibrahim, another Muslim from Kaduna. Attahiru was in office for just four months (January 26, 2021 – May 21, 2021). The newly appointed COAS, Farouk Yahaya, is a Muslim from Sokoto.
“It is clear from the above that seven Christians have been COAS against only four Muslims. No Muslim was deemed fit to be COAS during the reign of Obasanjo (1999 – 2007). Interestingly enough, there is no record of Muslims in the country accusing Obasanjo of Christianising the country the same way Christians are screaming to the rooftops today about a phantom Islamisation.
“Also self-evident from the above data is the indubitable fact that seven Christians were appointed as COAS over a 14-year period with only one Muslim who served for less than two years. Cumulatively also, Christians have served as COAS for fourteen (14) years in the last 22 years while Muslims have served for eight (8) years only.
“Nigeria’s armchair critics will not provide any data and when they do, they manipulate and skew it to send their perceived enemy to the guillotine. PMB’s appointment raised such a storm that we thought the heavens would come tumbling down.
“Yet this is not the first time a Nigerian president will appoint a COAS from his own region and religion. Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan removed Danbazau (a Muslim from Kano) in 2008. He replaced him with a Christian from the South and the Muslims did not complain. Neither did the Northerners raise any eyebrow. Azubuike Ihejirika (September 2010 – January 2014) whom Jonathan appointed to replace Danbazau, is a Christian from Isuikwuato, Abia state. Jonathan still appointed another Southerner and a Christian, Major General Kenneth Minimah (January 2014 – July 2015) from Opobo, Rivers State.
“This trend has also proved that hate merchants will not be satisfied no matter what Buhari does. Exempli gratia, Buhari appointed Rauf Aregbesola, a Yoruba, to replace Abdul Rahman Bello Danbazzau from Zaria as Minister of the Interior (2015 – 2019) yet the Yorubas who also have their kinsmen as the vice president, minister of works, etc are still pursuing an irredentist agenda.
“Ninety percent of Nigerian critics lack the power of critical analysis. Unfortunately Nigerians are so gullible that they swallow the shallow baits hook, line and sinker. Majority of Nigerians suffer from mass amnesia. We do not look back to compare events.
“The appointment of a COAS, particularly in the African context, is a matter of trust. Presidents appoint those with whom they feel comfortable. No president wants an Orka or a Dimka or, worse still, an Nzeogwu. That is the reality. We either take it or leave it. Those behind this false propaganda should stop misleading the public.
“They should also stop trying to dissuade us from speaking the truth. We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled by their agents who spend hours talking to us on telephone and sending to us text messages which qualify for the Longest Text Messages in Africa Award (LTMAA) in an attempt to convert us into the wailers’ camp. Their threats mean nothing to us because as an Islamic human rights group, we take our inspiration from Islamic tenets where thanatophobia (the fear of death) has no place at all.
“The Glorious Qur’an says, “Say, ‘Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us. He is our Protector’. And in Allah let the believers put their trust.
“We call on Nigerians to jettison this North-South dichotomy. It is an ill wind that will blow no good towards any Nigerian. It is slowing us down. It is creating bias, narrowing our perspective and beclouding our senses of judgement. Let us embrace integrity as yardstick for electing leaders and meritocracy as perimeter for appointments. But above all, let us love and forgive.
“For the umpteenth time, we affirm that MURIC is neither for the North nor for the South. NIGERIA is our tribe. NIGERIA is our region. We are for all states and all tribes because we have members in all parts of the country. Neither shall we be partisan because our members are in all political parties. Our truth may be bitter but we will not forsake it for falsehood. We will continue to strike a balance using facts, figures and objectivity; eschewing sentiments, with malice towards none, with charity for all.”