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Subsidising Dollar For Muslim Brethren When The Economy Is Dying Is Nonsense, Activists Tell Buhari

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Nigerian activists on Wednesday described as illogical and nonsense the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to ‘subsidise’ the dollar for Muslim brethren going for hajj in Saudi Arabia when the naira has crumbled and the economy is gasping for breath in a secular country.

The Federal Government through the central bank of Nigeria has allowed Muslims to get dollars at the exchange rate of 197 naira to a United States dollar when most businessmen need about 400 naira to get one dollar and the activists said it lacked business sense.

The Centre for Cultural and Religious Rights, (CECURR) was adding its voice to the deluge of criticisms that have greeted the Federal government’s decision to ‘subsidize’ the dollar for the annual Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

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The National Coordinator of CECURR, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said Mr. Buhari’s government should have prioritised “the biting needs of the country beyond the narrow and personal interests, given the present economic recession in the country”.

“The thought process that led the step is seriously illogical and smacks of insensitivity on the side of the government to the priorities and real needs of the vast majority, who mostly live in penury,” Mr. Adeniran said.

He said the government had previously pledged to stop sponsoring Pilgrimages and religious activities, but “apart from lacking circumspection and rationale, the step contradicts the ‘change’ mantra upon which the present regime rode to power. Certainly, a total fulfillment of separating religion from State/Public Affairs would have conformed to the change Nigerians expected from the ‘change’ the regime promised during campaigns.”

“As a matter of fact, the ideal situation should be that persons or groups going on religious pilgrimages must sponsor themselves instead of waiting for the government for any concessions. CECURR’s position on what the nature of Government – Religion relationship should be, is that, government must not be involved in any religious affair beyond what is constitutionally required of it; just like all other Nigerian social formations and individuals, no particular group or persons should be given special preferences at the expense of others.”

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