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OMC, MMPN Urge Tinubu, Abiodun To Declare Muharram 1st As Public Holiday

Daud Olatunji

The Ogun State Muslim Council (OMC) and the Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN) have renewed their call for the Federal and state governments  to declare Muharram 1, the first day of the Islamic calendar year, as a public holiday.

This appeal coincides with the commencement of the new Islamic year, Hijrah 1446 A.H., on Sunday, July 7.

The call for recognition of Muharram 1 as a public holiday is timely as the National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations (NACOMYO) prepares for a commemorative rally on July 7, 2024, marking the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

In a statement signed by the OMC Secretary-General, Alhaji Kamaldeen Akintunde, the Muslim Council urged Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun to follow the example set by his counterparts in Oyo, Osun, and Ekiti states, who have already declared the day a work-free day.

 The Council emphasised the importance of such a declaration as a gesture of fairness and recognition of Muslims’ rights under the Nigerian legal system.

The MMPN echoed this sentiment in a statement released on Thursday, signed by its National President, Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Balogun. 

Balogun argued that declaring Muharram 1 a public holiday would align with principles of rule of law, fairness, and justice, similar to the public holiday granted to Christians on January 1 of the Gregorian calendar.

“This gesture would give Muslims a sense of belonging in the polity,” Balogun noted, calling on the government to recognize the Hijrah calendar alongside the Gregorian calendar.

The OMC also called on Muslims across the country to remain conscious of their obligations to their Creator, the Almighty Allah, by being righteous and more committed to their faith and service to humanity. 

The statement underscored the need for Muslims to adhere to the teachings of their faith, promoting virtuous, upright, and exemplary behavior.

Highlighting the significance of Hijrah, the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, led the Council in emphasising the importance of eschewing unwholesome attitudes and practices and striving for righteousness, ethics, and steadfastness. 

“Righteousness exalts a nation,” Oba Adetona remarked, urging Nigerians to be patriotic and dedicated to national goals. 

He reminded Muslims of the prophetic saying, “the love of one’s country is an act of faith,” and encouraged them to embrace this principle for societal betterment and national development.

“Muharram 1 is our own January 1,” Balogun stated, urging both Federal and state governments to declare it a public holiday to promote religious harmony in the country. 

He also congratulated Muslims and non-Muslims alike on witnessing another new Islamic year, urging reflection on past deeds and renewed commitment to good in the New Islamic Year.

 He called on Muslims to pray for the successful governance of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Balogun also urged the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) to engage in dialogue with the Nigerian government on this issue and other matters affecting the Muslim community.

 He commended state governors who have already declared public holidays for the Islamic New Year, particularly in the Northern regions and in Oyo and Osun states in the Southwest, and encouraged others to follow suit.

Addressing broader societal issues, Balogun condemned the attacks on innocent Nigerians by insurgent groups as un-Islamic and called for peace. 

He also advocated for stringent legislation against rape, kidnapping, and terrorism, noting that the prevalence of these crimes is exacerbated by the impunity of the perpetrators.

The MMPN used the opportunity to urge the Sokoto state government to respect the position of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar, a spiritual leader for over 150 million Nigerian Muslims.

In a related development, the Ogun State Muslim Council (OMC) called on governments and health stakeholders to intensify efforts to control the Cholera outbreak in parts of the country. 

The Council highlighted the importance of consuming water from safe sources and avoiding exposed foods to prevent the spread of Cholera. 

It praised the Federal Government’s initiative to combat the epidemic and eliminate open defecation by 2025, including the recent inauguration of a Steering Committee for the “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign by Vice President Kashim Shettima.

The OMC also advocated the reinstatement of National Sanitation Day, emphasizing its role in influencing behavioral change, preventing diseases, and promoting long life.

 

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