SHAFAQNA – Some Muslim organisations in the country have called on the federal and state governments to declare Muharram 1, the first day of the Muslim lunar calendar, as a public holiday.
The groups, in their separate Hijrah 1437 A.H messages, said such a declaration would be in line with the rule of law, fairness and justice to Muslims in the country.
Muslims in Nigeria joined other faithful worldwide to usher in the new Islamic year Hijrah 1437A.H. on Wednesday, October 14. In some states, the occasion was marked by series of programmes such as march pasts, prayer sessions, lectures, seminars and visitations to orphanages.
The groups are Muslim Community of Oyo State (MUSCOYS), Muslim Consultative Forum (MCF), Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates Association (UNIFEMGA) and Movement for Islamic Culture Awareness (MICA).
Others are Bodija Muslim Youth Forum (BOMYOF), National Council of Muslim Youths Organisations (NACOMYO), Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Muslim Ummah of South-West of Nigeria (MUSWEN) and Islamic Media Awareness Forum (IMAF).
In its Hijrah 1437 message, MUSCOYS called on Governor Isiaka Ajimobi to declare a public holiday for the residents in the state.
The message, signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Alhaji Kunle Sanni and Mursiq Siyanbade, urged Ajimobi to emulate his colleague in Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, by declaring a similar Hijrah holiday in the state.
The community also used the occasion to implore Muslims to turn a new leaf by jettisoning bad behaviour and embrace a new way of life in line with the dictates of Islam.
MCF in its statement signed by its Co-ordinator, Malam Idris Usman, urged the Federal Government to give recognition to Muslim New Year in the interest of fairness and in consonance with change mantra, saying such recognition would be in line with world practices and be fair to the large population of Muslims in the country.
MMPN in its statement signed by its chairman, Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Balogun, said declaring Muharram 1 a public holiday, would give Muslims a sense of belonging. According to him, “Muharram 1 is equivalent to January 1,” which is observed as a public holiday in Nigeria.
UNIFEMGA National President, Prof. AbdulWahab Egbewole, in his message, called on the government at various levels to recognise the Hijrah calendar and use it side by side with the Gregorian calendar.
In the same vein, MSSN in its Hijrah message hailed those governors who had declared Muharram 1 a public holiday and urged other state governors and the Federal Government to emulate.
Hajia Sururah Oyero, FOMWAN National Public Relations Officer, expressed regrets that the security challenges facing the country were enormous and require urgent attention.
She called on the Federal Government to properly equip the security agencies to enable them carry out its functions of protection of lives and property in the country.