MUSLIMS have been charged to deploy their numerical strength in the forthcoming general election and ensure the emergence of leaders with proven integrity in order to change the fortune of Nigeria for the better.
The General Secretary of the Muslim Community of Oyo State (MUSCOYS), Sheikh Ismail Busayri, gave the charge last weekend in Ibadan, Oyo State, at a public lecture organised by Iba Oluyole Mosque, Anfani, in conjunction with Anfani, Imalefalafia, Ososami Muslim Community (AIOMC).
Sheikh Busayri, who is the Chief Imam of Alegongo Central Mosque, Ibadan, speaking on “Vote Buying and Other Election Malpractice: Islamic Perspective,” which was the topic of the lecture, urged Muslims and, indeed, Nigerians of all faiths, to do away with vote buying or selling to avoid plunging themselves into a serious sin in the sight of Allah.
The lecturer, who warned eligible voters and politicians against regarding votes as mere merchandise, described buying and selling of votes as sinful and an awful way to mortgage the well-being and future of a nation.
He faulted the notion by some Muslims that women ought to remain indoors on an election day while men go out to vote, stating that Islam does not restrict women from performing such civic obligations as voting in a general election.
In describing elections as a game of numbers, he called on Muslim women not to show apathy towards the coming elections to avoid their outcomes being decided by other categories of women in the society who don’t feel unnecessarily restrained by their religions.
According to the preacher, Muslim women, as much as their male counterparts, have a big role to play in cementing democracy and consolidating its gains in the country and as such, they should file out in their numbers on February 16 and March 2 to vote God-fearing leaders who will protect the interests of the generality of the citizens.
He observed that given the arrangement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for this year’s elections whereby men and women would wait their turns to vote in separate lines, Muslim women should feel comfortable to exercise their franchise.
Sheikh Busayri lamented what he called the quantum of looting in the country over the past decades but expressed his conviction that “Nigeria is richly endowed and the lost glory of the country can be restored if we resolve to imbibe the culture of empowering good leaders.”
He added: “Nigeria is blessed with abundant natural resources. We are also endowed with the best resources, that is, human resources. But we don’t have good leaders to manage these resources. And that is why want and poverty have remained our lot.
“This is another season to elect our leaders. If we say we are not concerned, it means we have elected to remain in poverty. We are the world’s sixth largest producers of crude oil, yet we rank among the poorest countries of the world. We are rich and poor at the same time. What irony! Lack of good leaders is responsible for this.
“This is yet another opportunity to get it right by electing good, conscientious leaders and Muslims cannot be laid-back about it. As eligible voters, we must not refuse to lend our voice of wisdom in the election of leaders and the best leaders to appoint are the most capable.”