30th Rabiul-Thani, 1443 AH
5th December, 2021
The attention of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) under the leadership of its President General, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, has been drawn to the tragic collapse of a skyscraper in Ikoyi, Lagos. The Council is devastated by the loss of precious human lives in the disaster and distressed by humongous material losses to individuals and organisations. The Council commiserates with the families of the victims, the Government and people of Lagos state and all Nigerians as a whole. We pray that the Almighty Allah keep Nigerians safe and guard us against such calamities in future.
As we and other Nigerians continue to mourn this national catastrophe, the NSCIA calls for an unbiased and thorough investigation to be conducted in order to establish the remote and immediate causes of the tragedy with a view to forestalling future recurrence. It is heartrending that though Nigeria is not new to tragedies, appropriate actions are not usually taken and rooms are inadvertently created for the continuation of errors that should not have taken place. This Ikoyi incident is a wake-up call that our national attitude requires a paradigm shift and Government has to be more proactive in nipping disasters in the bud and more active in responding to emergencies.
One major outcome of the response to this catastrophe is our utter state of unpreparedness in confronting emergencies of that magnitude. Despite the fact that Nigeria has a Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and similar agencies at the state level, the rescue operations still left much to be desired both in effectiveness and efficiency. Definitely, a more comprehensive and professional approach would yield a better result than the haphazard and largely kinetic operations that were apparently more tailored towards retrieving bodies than rescuing lives.
The Ikoyi tragedy therefore furnished, though ironically, a somber moment for national reflection and soul-searching. It provided us with the opportunity to ponder the challenges confronting this nation including the ‘culture’ of impunity and corruption that have permeated all aspects of our socio-political life as a nation. The Ikoyi incident also offers abundant lessons for governments agencies at all levels and indeed citizens of this nation on the negative implications of cutting corners.
Is it not an irony that while some buildings that were constructed in the 1960s, long before the 21st century, remain firm and strong since then till today, we have become living witnesses to the collapse of skyscrapers that are being constructed today even with all the wizardry and expertise that modernity has endowed us with? Is it not the case that while in the past the values of honesty, transparency and integrity were the unseen pillars of all building constructions, today, on the other hand, corruption, sleaze and scum have become the ingredients and the foundation of governance? The NSCIA believes that rather than mocking the dead, the right lessons in the Ikoyi tragedy should be learnt by all so that the nation can move forward.
It is rather shameful that in the 21st century, our rescue and disaster management infrastructure have not gone beyond the conventional debris-heaping equipment that were seen on display at Ikoyi. It is in this respect that the Council urges the federal and state governments to, as a matter of urgency, acquire state-of-the-art life-saving equipments that could be deployed with ease in times of emergencies. The NSCIA believes that we can do better as a nation and that we have the capacity to demonstrate that we truly care about human life if we commit ourselves more to discipline.
The NSCIA hereby calls on the federal and state governments, through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD), the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the State Emergency Management Agencies to rise to the task of securing life especially during emergencies by deploying more resources into the sector. It equally enjoins stakeholders in the sector to eschew acts of corruption that has remained the bane of our nation’s advancement.
It is pertinent to state that the Council has received several complaints and questions on the case of a young Muslim who was rejected employment by the owner of the building that collapsed on account of his Islamic faith. The NSCIA wishes to note that this is probably not the best period to respond to the queries and concerns that have arisen from this particular incident. Council believes that our nation is currently in a state of mourning.
Nevertheless, the case is not an isolated one and the Council had on several occasions drawn attention to the systematic persecution of Muslims in Yorubaland. The unnecessary hullabaloo on the use of hijab by female students and the recurrent oppression of Muslims at their places of work are case studies. It is for this reason that the Council considers the so-called Yoruba agenda and phantom secessionist calls among some Yoruba as a smokescreen to further consolidate the repression of Muslims. The so-called Yoruba agenda is a disguised attempt to deepen the Islamaphobic hysteria of the Christian elite and subject Muslims to more persecution.
The spectre of hatred and discrimination has been so mainstreamed to the extent that a professional body like the Nigeria Bar Association that should be informed shamelessly attempted to criminalise the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, for incoherent reasons. It is a public knowledge that his real offence was making a Muslim his running mate despite the preponderance of Muslims in the state. The critics are hypocritically mute about Ekiti, Plateau, Benue and Ondo states where Muslims are perpetually marginalized in spite of their huge numbers. The political elite of Benue and Plateau states have since apparently sworn never to continue to have Muslims as Deputy Governors but the bigoted minds have nothing to say about the states.
In any case, the Council is aware of the futile spirited efforts devised as means of presenting the North Central zone as Christian-majority. The process began with the phantom creation of the ill-defined Middle-Belt which failed due to the preponderance of Muslims in Nasarawa, Kogi, Niger and Kwara. Such sinister plans are being hatched in some other places with a view to perpetuating the inglorious colonial design of making Muslims second class citizens. But since the promise of Allah is true that He had sent His messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth in order to make it prevail over every other religion, however averse to this the disbelievers may be (Q9:33), Islam will always survive the antics of its enemies.
The Council also notes the informative article of Prof. Farooq Kperogi on “Ikoyi Tragedy and Casual Bigotry against Yoruba Muslims” and the debate it has sparked in many circles. At the right time, the Council will unveil its position on the issues highlighted in the essay.
While the Council continues to pray for the peace, unity, development and security of Nigerians, it appeals to all and sundry to ponder on the nature of life and the unpredictability of fate regarding the incident. We should therefore always be our brother’s keepers, remain close to God and be grateful in all situations while taking appropriate measures to guard against disappointments, dangers and disasters.
Ibrahim Aselemi Abubakar Akande
Public Relations Officer Administrative Secretary
Prof. Salisu Shehu Arc. Zubairu Haruna Usman-Ugwu
Deputy Secretary General Director of Administration