The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has rejected the June 13 date fixed for the National Youth Service Corps 2016/17 Batch A (Stream II) orientation course.
In a statement Thursday, the group said the date coincided with Muslim corps members’ Ramadan fasting.
“It is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional for NYSC to hold camp at a time when its Muslim members will be deprived of their freedom of worship and the liberty to practice their creed without fear,” MURIC said in the statement issued by its Director, Ishaq Akintola.
“This planned camp is exclusive, discriminatory and parochial.”
The new date was fixed after several postponements and cancellations, prompting rumours that the programme had been scrapped.
But the NYSC in a statement said the date was fixed after President Muhammadu Buhari approved and released funds for the scheme.
The NYSC orientation programme would run from June 13 to June 29 nationwide.
MURIC noted that any Nigerian institution dealing with schedules and programmes is expected to consider the dates and periods of important festivals, rituals and religious practices.
“This should form the core of its logistics. It is our humble opinion that NYSC headquarters has failed in its strategic planning by allowing its next camp to clash with the Ramadan period,” said Mr. Akintola, a professor.
“What happened to 21st May, 2016, which was the date earlier picked for the orientation?
“We do not want to believe that the shift was deliberately planned to coincide with the Ramadan season with a view to excluding prospective Muslim corpers.
“MURIC is not trying to indulge Muslim youths. Fasting is no joke and it certainly cannot be combined with the physical challenges which characterize the NYSC camp.”
The Muslim group also noted that eligible Muslim graduates would want to be part of the service but “the obstacles standing in their way are gargantuan”.
“Firstly, morning drills in NYSC camps are known to be rigorous and the soldiers in charge will not take excuses,” Mr. Akintola said.
“Dehydration sets in later in the day particularly in the hotter regions of Nigeria. Ramadan period is therefore not the best time to hold NYSC orientation camp.
“Secondly, adequate sahuur (early morning meal taken approximately between 4 am and 5.15 am) cannot be guaranteed in the NYSC camp. Neither can the futuur (meal taken at sunset to break fast ) be timely as camp schedules are bound to ignore and subsume this very important period.
“Thirdly, attending orientation camp and partaking in the energy-sapping activities on empty stomach is an indubitable invitation to health crisis. NYSC may therefore be inviting Muslim corpers to step on landmines in the planned orientation camp if it holds as presently scheduled.”
The fourth issue, Mr. Akintola, continued, is the spiritual angle.
Mr. Akintola said fasting is compulsory for every Muslim adult, adding that any obstacle put in the way of Muslims to make it impossible for them to fast is an encroachment on their fundamental human right and a flagrant violation of Nigerian Constitution.
“There is more to Ramadan than ordinary fasting,” he said.
“That is on the surface. The whole month of Ramadan is a period of spiritual dedication. There are so many other spiritual exercises in which Muslims engage, the tafsiir (exegesis of the Qur’an) session, the taraawih (late evening supererogatory prayers) and nawaafil (night supererogatory prayers).
“Only the deep can call to the deep. All these cannot be possible in the NYSC camp.”