Muslims have protested under the auspices of the Lagos Muslim Community against what they have dubbed official marginalization on the list of commissioner-designates that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has sent to the state House of Assembly.
There are 31 Christians and eight Muslims on the governor Sanwo-Olu’s list of commissioners.
In the early hours of Wednesday, hundreds of Muslims gathered at the state’s house of assembly building.
Along with other devoted Muslims, heads of several Islamic organizations and academics attended the demonstration and carried signs that said, “MUSLIMS SAY NO OFFICIAL DISCRIMINATION.”
President of the Muslim Community of Lagos State, Prof. Tajudeen.G.O. Gbadamosi, spoke to a sizable group of Muslim protestors present at the event and read a petition that had been delivered to the legislators.
The Joint Muslim Forum (JMF) Convener Sheikh Abdur Rahman Ahmad, Lagos State House of Assembly (LAHA) Member Lukmon Olumo, Chief Whip/Chairman Commissioners-Nominee Screening Committee Mojeed Fatai Adebola, LAHA Member Jubreel AbdulKareem, and MURIC Director Prof. Lakin Akintola were among the other prominent Muslim leaders present at the event.
“We are here today to express our grievance and dissatisfaction against the blatant disregard for justice, equity, and fairness in the proposed Lagos State’ Executive cabinet as contained in the list of commissioners nominees submitted by Governor Sanwo-Olu to this honorable House for your screening and confirmation,” the petition, titled “Petition on the Discrimination Against Muslims in the Nomination of Commissioners,” states.
“As you are aware, the list is a textbook example of prejudice because it comprises 31 nominees who identify as Christians and just eight (8) nominees who identify as Muslims. This is not a recent occurrence, particularly since Governor Sanwo-Olu seized control of this State; in fact, during the Sanwo-Olu administration, it has been pushed to the level of official state policy to deny Muslims their rightful places.
For instance, just one (1) of the 14 Special Advisers Mr. Sanwo-Olu chose in 2019—the year he was elected governor—was a Muslim. Again, just 14 of the 43 members of his State Executive Council were Muslims; the other 29 were Christians.
“In addition, 13 of the 23 commissioners were Christians and 10 were Muslims. In his first tenure, just 15 Muslims and 35 Christians made up the 50 Permanent Secretaries. These are only a few of the many ways the Sanwo-Olu government deprives Muslims in this state of their proper role and representation in leadership.
The petition goes on to say, “The Rt. Hon. Speaker and honorable members, we want you to notice that this list from Governor Sanwo-Olu violates the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution, namely Section 14(4) and is further bolstered by Section 192(2), both of which state the following.
“The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of its agencies, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies, shall be carried out in such a manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the peoples of the Federation.”
“192(2) Any appointment to the office of Commissioner of Government of a State shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the House of Assembly of the State, be made by the Governor of that State and in making any such appointment the Governor shall conform with the provisions of section 14(4) of this Constitution.”
With all due respect, the statement adds, “Without a doubt, Governor Sanwo-Olu’s list breaches these articles of the Constitution. As a result, we urge this honorable House to refrain from endorsing any action that goes against our national standard, particularly one that also goes against good conscience and natural justice.
“It is absurd to claim that there are more Muslim elected politicians in Lagos State. This is especially true considering that all six (6) of the governors of the southwest are Christians, and we Muslims do not object to this since we acknowledge that they ran for and won their positions.
Why, especially after Mr. Sanwo-olu became governor, must Muslims in Lagos State continually beg and battle for their constitutional rights? We recall with great regret that, up until the Supreme Court decided in favor of hijab for our schoolgirls, successive Lagos governments never felt compelled to work to comply with both the law and the best practice throughout the world by embracing hijab.
“The landmark pro-hijab ruling was handed down in March 2022 and received widespread acclaim. Governor Sanwo-Olu’s administration, however, in its distinctive idiosyncrasy, decided to disregard this until a year later, when persistent pressure from well-meaning people was raised.
“We the Muslims of, and in Lagos State wish to categorically state that the entire leadership of the Muslim Community of Lagos State representing various Muslim organizations, unequivocally and unanimously reject the Governor Sanwo-Olu’s list of commissioner-designates. We demand a reversal and review to reflect 60% in favor of Muslims in a new list.
“We demand that the Lagos State House of Assembly reject the list in the same manner as the Niger State House of Assembly, where a notably minority Christian community sought that the list of commissioners be reversed in order to represent fairness and equity to them.
We also request that you and the House of Assembly make it clear to the administration that it must respect the variety of the people living in the state and pick a more representative cabinet. This, in our opinion, is crucial for the stability and future development of Lagos State.