Penultimate week, we published Muslim Ummah of South West of Nigeria, MUSWEN’s, intervention in the dispute between the Honourable Minister of Communication, Barrister Adebayo Shittu and his erstwhile aides, particularly, the erstwhile Special Assistant, Special Duties to the Minister, Alhaji Tajudeen Imam, occasioned by the non-payment of their emoluments of between 23 and 28 months.
When we thought MUSWEN had quenched the raging fire between the warring parties but two of his former aides have said justice was not done and vowed to return to the trenches. They specifically said they were not part of the settlement and that Tajudeen Imam could not have represented them at the peace parley. The two gentlemen are Victor Oluwadamilare, who was the Special Assistant, Media to the Hon. Minister of Communications and Hon. Razaq Olubodun, former Personal Assistant to the Hon. Minister of Communications.
The duo in a rejoinder sent to Vanguard said: “The process of settling the dispute only considered Sheikh Tajudeen Imam, the erstwhile Special Assistant, Special Duties to the Minister, as a major contender in the dispute as he was the only one invited to the Abeokuta peace parley. There was nothing to suggest at the meeting that Sheikh Tajudeen Imam represented other aggrieved former aides of the Minister, as their grievances and bone of contention were not part of the agenda and nothing in that regard was discussed, talk less of arriving at a settlement.
“In accordance with Allah’s directive in Qur’an 49:9-10 and in conformity with the principle of fair hearing, the Elder’s Forum failed to factor the interests and demands of other aggrieved former aides of the Minister in the resolution of the brewing crisis. One would have thought that the cause of disagreement would have been adequately and amicably addressed by such a powerful assemblage of most distinguished Nigerians. This is pertinent against the unfortunate situation that the conduct of the Minister, who himself is a Muslim, is badly embarrassing to the body of Islam in Nigeria.
“ Though, the former SA Media, Victor Oluwadamilare is a Christian, it is on record that he is someone who has great value of respect for Islam and its adherents based on his long and fruitful years of excellent relationships with notable Muslim clerics and personalities across the country. Our contention is that nothing should deprive him of getting justice, granted that he is a Christian, under the Elders’ Forum as constituted by MUSWEN’s 10 – member mediation team. It’s quite disheartening that his grievance on the non-payment of his full entitlements having served the Minister for 28 months was of little or no importance to the meeting of MUSWEN in Abeokuta.
“ In the same vein, the ordeals of the former Personal Assistant to the Minister, Hon. Razaq Olubodun, a staunch Muslim incidentally, was not also discussed by the Elders’ Forum. The Minister owed him salaries and allowances for 23 months before he resigned last year when he could no longer cope with the hardship. It is regrettable that the Elders’ Forum only succeeded in arm-twisting Sheikh Tajudeen Imam to forgo his entitlements of 25 months service to the Minister. We wonder where lies fairness in the overall adjudication of the matter when the issue of non-payment of emoluments was the crux of the disagreement. So, if truly the Minister and Sheikh Tajudeen Imam agreed to a truce, it will be short-lived, as the cause of justice has not been served and it will, no doubt, be a ‘peace of the grave yard’. In fact, Sheikh Tajudeen Imam’s interest will be in jeopardy and he’ll suffer untold hardship.
“It is against this background that the Elders’ Forum appeal to other former aides of the Minister to act in similar manner cannot be sustained for obvious reasons. It is also a matter of regret that the purpose of the Abeokuta meeting seems to have been compromised, as we will have no other choice than to resume hostilities in the media space to further press for our unpaid emoluments from the Minister.It will be strange for anyone to expect us to be quiet in the face of tyranny of the Minister who’s sitting on Victor Oluwadamilare’s 28 months emolument. And, all appeals, no doubt, will fall on the deaf ears of Hon. Razak Olubodun, whose 23 months salaries and allowances paid by the Federal Government with the Minister’s own were eaten up by him for 23 months before Olubodun resigned last year.
“It is our humble submission that the only way out of the present quagmire is for well meaning Nigerians and leaders of thought to impress it on the Minister to pay our outstanding emoluments. That is the only acceptable condition for peace, as there cannot be peace without justice.