Aggrieved Muslims, under the aegis of the Lagos Muslim Community, have staged a protest over what they described as official marginalization in the list of commissioner-designates forwarded to the state House of Assembly by the executive Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Governor Sanwo-Olu’s list of commissioners supposedly includes eight Muslims and 31 Christians.
Hundreds of Muslims gathered in the early hours of Wednesday at the state’s house of assembly building.
The protesters include heads of numerous Islamic organisations and academics, as well as other Muslim faithful, holding signs that said, “Muslims say no official discrimination”.
Speaking to a large crowd of Muslim protesters at the venue, President of the Muslim Community of Lagos State, Prof. Tajudeen G.O. Gbadamosi, read a petition that was submitted to the lawmakers.
Other popular Muslim leaders at the protest included the Convener, Joint Muslim Forum (JMF) Sheikh AbdurRahman 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, among others.
The petition, titled “Petition on the Discrimination against Muslims in the Nomination of Commissioners,” reads, “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 commissioner nominees submitted by Governor Sanwo-Olu to this honourable House for your screening and confirmation.
“As you are aware, the list is a classic case of discrimination and religious bigotry, as it has 31 nominees who are of the Christian faith and only eight (8) nominees who are Muslims. This is not a new development, especially since Governor Sanwo-Olu assumed leadership of this state. As a matter of fact, it has been elevated to the level of official state policy to deny Muslims their deserved positions under the Sanwo-Olu administration.
“For instance, in 2019, when Mr. Sanwo-Olu became governor, he appointed 14 Special Advisers and only one (1) among them was a Muslim. Again, in his State Executive Council, which had 43 members, only 14 were Muslims, and the remaining 29 were Christians.
“Also, of the 23 commissioners, 10 were Muslims and 13 were Christians. Only 15 Muslims and 35 Christians made up the body of 50 Permanent Secretaries in his first term. These are just a few among the numerous ways in which the Sanwo-Olu administration denies Muslims in this state their rightful place and number in leadership.”
The petition further states that “The Rt. Hon. Speaker and honorable members, we want you to note that this list from Governor Sanwo-Olu violates the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, particularly Section 14(4), and is further strengthened by Section 192(2), both of which state as follows:
“The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such a manner as to recognize 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 the 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.”
It reads, “With due respect, Governor Sanwo-Olu’s list clearly violates these provisions of the Constitution, and we accordingly call upon this honorable House not to endorse any action that violates our national norm, especially one that equally violates good conscience and natural justice.
“The argument that Muslims have more elected officials in Lagos State is preposterous. This is even more so at a time when all six (6) Governors of the Southwest are Christians, and we, the Muslims, do not complain about this because we recognize that they contested for offices and won.
“Why must Muslims in Lagos State always beg and fight for their constitutional rights, especially since Mr. Sanwo-olu became Governor? We recall with utmost sadness that until the Supreme Court ruled in favor of hijab for our school girls, successive Lagos governments never felt it should endeavor to align with the global best practice of accepting hijab in addition to abiding by the rule of law.
“The historic pro-hijab judgment was delivered in March 2022 and globally acknowledged. However, Governor Sanwo-Olu’s government, in its peculiar idiosyncrasies, chose to ignore this until a year later, after ceaseless pressure was mounted by well-meaning individuals.”
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 list of commissioner-designates of Governor Sanwo-Olu, and we demand a reversal and review to reflect 60% in favor of Muslims in a fresh list.
“We call on the Lagos State House of Assembly to reject the list as similarly done in the Niger State House of Assembly, where a noticeable minority Christian population demanded a reversal of the list of commissioners to reflect fairness and equity to them.
“We also call on you and the House of Assembly to impress on the government the need to respect the diversity of the state’s population and to appoint a more representative cabinet. We believe that this is essential for the future stability and prosperity of Lagos State.”