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Edo Muslims: Mixing Facts with Fictions

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Ernest Omoarelojie

Edo state is entering a very peculiar stage in its political history. It is therefore expected that over the next few weeks or months, individuals and groups will, for partisan reasons, find it convenient to be biased in addressing issues of common interest.

Indeed, as the race to replace incumbent governor, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, whose tenure winds up on Friday, November 11, 2016, heats up, stake holders will up the ante with antics deliberately designed to take the wind off the sail of their rivals’ ships.

And without any doubt, the battle will be no-hold bared where ordinary onlookers will hardly be able to differentiate facts from jaundiced claims.

It has begun in earnest as a nameless Muslim group obtained a full page advertorial on the Nation newspapers of Monday, January 25, 2016. In the said publication, the group called on President Mohammadu Buhari to save Muslims in the state from what it termed the governor’s ‘…ORGY OF POLITICAL REPRESSION AND MARGINALIZATION.

But a peep through the content reveals that the claim is a cocktail of falsehood deliberately orchestrated to turn a section of the populace against the governor.

The first indication that the group is a front for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is its description of the governor, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole.

Besides referring to the state as an empire, it addressed the governor as an emperor, a unique description which fits aptly into the vocabulary of its chairman, the very loquacious Chief Dan Orbih.

It is simply a proxy fight in the visage of the biblical hand of Esau, voice of Jacob.

Ordinarily, the group made some weighty allegations that are worthy of attention. It however, messed them up with factual errors.

For instance, it accused the administration of deliberately denying them of any worthwhile position in the cabinet, particularly in the distribution or appointment of commissioners.

In its words, “When Adam Eric Aliyu Oshiomhole came to office, there was high expectation in the Ummah that he was going to reverse the trend of our under representation and low visibility in sensitive and key positions in government. This hope was immediately dashed when he constituted his first cabinet of over 18 commissioners without any visible Muslim presence. Only his friend, Abdul Oroh, made the list.”

By interpretation, the group’s assumption is that Oroh lost his identity as a Muslim because he made the list not on the strength of the group’s recommendation but on his fraternal or personal relationship with the governor.

While it is not very imperative to contest any claim by the group, one is however, constrained to point out its factual errors with regards to the number of Muslims in the governor’s cabinet.

The truth is that though all of them are not commissioners, some of them can be said to be his eyes and ears. A few of them include his Private Principal Secretary, a very quiet and unassuming power broker, who took over from the late Olaitan Oyerinde, incidentally another Muslim, and Alhaji Mikano Kadiri, Special Adviser/Principal Security Officer, who commands such influence in the administration that no one can afford to ignore him. Others are Kassim Afegbua, his equally influential former Special Adviser, Media and Public Affairs, now information commissioner, Hajia Maimunat Momodu, Executive Director, Special Duties, Abdulahi Imhodagbe, Executive Director, Governor’s Office, Hajia Bilikisu, Executive Director, SACA, and Alhaji Abu, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Secretary to the State Government. The list is endless.

Simply put, it is callous and wicked for anyone to deliberately turn facts on their heads all in an attempt to maliciously plant seeds of discord among the populace.

The group also claimed that the state government denied it the use of the Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia stadium but conveniently excluded the fact that national security agencies provided the information that labelled its intended event as unhealthy for public safety.

They also forgot that as the chief security officer in the state, the governor is duty bound to act decisively to forestall any break down of law and order, a reason for which he may have acted the way he reportedly did.

Instead, it employed the so-called denial as an excuse to justify its scandalous accusation against him. They added that besides openly insulting and branding all Muslims in the state as “miscreants and thieves”, he went the extra mile of not sparing the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar, who incidentally is the President General of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NASCIA.

Unfortunately, it failed to establish how the governor insulted the revered Sultan.

Rather than admit that its claims are mere attempts to whip up damaging emotions against the governor, the group went on to accuse him of gathering and sharing N3,000,000 of state funds to Muslim leaders on January 16, 2016, arguably to correct the mistake of preventing the group from using the stadium facility to discuss its numerous plights. But any cursory observer can tell that its sole aim is to take advantage of some fortuitous events and mischievously paint same as established rules designed by the governor to stifle the ambition of Muslim community in the state, one of which now includes the deputy governor slot in the next administration. Successfully, it squandered any public goodwill it may have envisaged.

Yet, the group committed more blunders by presenting its case in a cocktail of mind blowing grammar obviously designed to impress readers.

In one fell swoop, it alluded to the forlorn hope of its members in the state by claiming that they are “…sanguine that a lugubrious past was going to be consigned to the waste basket of history… But little did we know that our lacrimation was not going to come to an end…” as the condition Muslims found themselves remained a “Store house of mortification, denigration and suffocating misery” a reason for which they continued to “…remain luxated from all things of honour…” In order to be saved from what appears to be more than “… cruel mendacity…” it called on President Buhari to “…kindly intervene to extricate the Muslims from the shackles of mortification”.

Chai! There is God o!

I am sure that Igodomigodo, the wordsmith and Chief Zebrudaya Okoligwe, the clown, are going green with envy.

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