The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has responded to a press statement issued today by the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) in which the latter criticized WAEC’s examination timetable billed to take off next week for fixing the examinations to coincide with Jum’ah period.
The crux of WAEC’s argument is that the examinations cover the whole of the West African region and that the times fixed for the Nigerian papers were not 1 pm to 3 pm but 2 pm to 4 pm.
MURIC is pleased with the way WAEC shot itself in the foot. The debate is over. Is there anyone in the whole of West Africa who does not know the time Muslims observe Jum’ah? Should a public institution which has operated in Nigeria for decades feign ignorance of the time Muslims go for Jum’ah service on Fridays? For the avoidance of doubts, we make it abundantly clear that Jum’ah prayers start by 1 pm or 1.30 pm and ends around 2.30 pm.
WAEC claims that its papers start by 2 pm and not 1 pm. So what? What difference does it make? How on earth can a Muslim candidate arrive early enough at the examination center for a paper which will start by 2 pm even if the prayer ends by 2 pm? Has WAEC built mosques for Muslim candidates at the examination centers? We assert that WAEC is insensitive to the plight of its Muslim candidates by admitting that its papers start by 2 pm.
Let us call a spade a spade. By fixing examinations at 2 pm (as admitted by WAEC in its press statement of today), WAEC has subjected Muslim candidates to undue pressure and undeserved disadvantage capable of militating against optimum performance.
WAEC has just exposed itself as an institution which has never shown interest in the welfare of its Muslim candidates. We wonder how WAEC has been dealing officially with its Muslim employees all these years. Or are there no Muslims at the management level in WAEC to advise WAEC about the right time to fix examinations on Fridays? Is Islamophobia so deep and widespread in WAEC?
WAEC also argues that some subjects and timings are for candidates based in Ghana, are there no Muslims in Ghana? The wind has blown. We have seen the ruff of the hen. So this is how WAEC has been persecuting Muslim candidates in other West African countries.
MURIC reminds WAEC that Islam is a brotherhood without borders. Oppression of Muslims in one country is oppression of all Muslims of the world. Our dogma in MURIC is, “Oppress one, oppress all”. The Glorious Qur’an says, “Verily this Brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood and I am your Lord…” (Qur’an 23:52). We therefore reject WAEC’s attempt at divide et impera.
We hereby repeat our advise to WAEC. Review your November/December 2015 GCE examination timetable as you may deem fit. You have insulted our collective intelligence by insisting that MURIC misled the public. Starting a propaganda war with Muslims is not the wisest thing to do at this point in time. There is no way you can win.
This controversy reminds us of the anatomy of terrorism. It is a cause-effect affair because there is no smoke without fire. People who nurse grudges react in different ways but why provoke people in the first place? Provocation is mostly to blame for violent reactions. What Nigeria needs presently is a peaceful atmosphere. Give people justice and there will be enduring peace. Justice is the soul of peace.
WAEC is advised to desist from heating up the polity. Let my people go! Allow Muslim candidates to attend the Jum’ah services. We are not a violent group but there is no point provoking Nigerian Muslims. All we are saying is “Let the Muslims go”. WAEC will lose nothing by eating the humble pie.
We appeal to Nigerian authorities to wade into this matter before it is too late. We call on the education committees of the National Assembly to do the needful. The worst families are those who do not dialogue on issues. The Nigerian nation is a large family. “Come now, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)