By Denrele Animashaun
Praise those of your critics for whom nothing is up to standard. – Dag Hammarskjold
The British Prime minister, David Cameron last month announced that the UK will issue 200 million sterling pounds in Islamic bonds, or SUKUK. For those not in the know, SUKUK is Arabic for legal instrument, a financial certificate like a bond, that is where the similarity ends.
The difference between the two is that SUKUK, is not interest based as it is not permitted in Islam. So when the mischief-makers in the Osun chapter of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, have gone on to criticize Osun State for this astute financial move and declared instead the governor and the administration is moving towards Islamising the state. If they had taken the trouble to look around the world, they would know that all forward thinking countries are making this financial decisions and it has helped many countries move out of the financial doldrums .
Malaysia is the biggest SUKUK market in the world and the bulk of dealings are attributed to non-Muslims, and they found it to be most attractive means of capital and so what have they got to say to that? SUKUK has been available to all regardless of their religion.
Here in the UK, when Cameron announced this, it did not cause any ripples or raise eyebrows in the country nor does come as a surprise in the international financial quarters. And of the move Cameron said in front of delegates who gathered in London for the 9th annual World Islamic Economic Forum on the 29th of October that he wants ” London to stand alongside Dubai as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world,”.
This move is not new in fact, the acceptance of Islamic finance has been responsible for several British landmarks in last couple of years including the Olympic Village, Harrods and the new addition to London’s sky line the Shard. It has helped finance the funding of the Athletes Village for the Olympic Games hosted by London, the power station in Battersea area through a 400 million pound provided by Malaysian sukuk, to 1.5 billion sterling undertaken by Dubai sukuk to help finance London Gateway, the first UN deep sea container port. Cameron’s announcement comes as putting an official blessing to an Islamic finance industry that is already active in the UK in particular.
Britain is not the first European country either, as about a decade ago, German state of Saxony-Anhalt issued a $123 million Islamic bonds, or sukuk and we all know that Germany is a predominately Christian state. What makes this significant is that sukuk is now opened to a long established financial market like Britain. Most importantly, it helps bridge the gap between religions, cultures and it is a pragmatic step in the right direction.
So other places around the world are building bridges, these Naysayers in Nigeria, would like us believe that there is a conspiracy theory on how Islam wants to take over a state. How low would these people stoop to peddle their brand of religious hatred and incitement of violence and discrimination? It does not seem that this cynical trouble rousers are this deluded or arrogant to think this cheap shot will go unchallenged?
So roll on a robust salvo from the APC spokesman, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi who accuses them (the PDP and CAN) for being mischievous that that sukuk is an attempt to islamise the state by Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
Osun is blazing trails and others a tagging far behind including the Federal Government who issuing sukuk finance major government projects such as health and Oyatomi noted that the earlier criticisms that trailed the state government decision on the Sukuk bond by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) can only be a niggle for the sterling body of work that Aregbesola and his government had been responsible for. It was said now that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, have disclosed that the CBN, the Debt Management Office (DMO) and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), are exploring ways to use Sukuk to build airports, railways and refineries.
So these Naysayers would like us to believe that all these people, institutions and countries are wrong? So is the Federal Government also attempting to islamise the Nation? The hype of the ignorant, the insolent is to mis-educate the masses, the easily misguided and for those who are gullible and take in every word they say as gospel truth.
These people thrive on spreading their brand of hatred and chaos purely to divide people along religious and tribal lines. This approach is well worn and so why do some people still fall this time and time again ?
The distractors often wear the cloth of respectability and piety but there is nothing honourable about their motive so do not let them fool you. They are not serving the people but themselves, they are out for all they can get and do not care so this time they have shot themselves in the foot and exposed the level of their hatred for progress and order.
You see, this does not serve them well. They should be ashamed of themselves while Osun is forging ahead, taking its people of all religion and creed towards growth and prosperity, these nay-sayers are busy banging the drum of discontent. Do ask them please, what they have done for their people lately? I assure you, they cannot answer that truthfully and they have no intention of doing anything worthwhile either.
All they do and are good at is to stick their oar in and shout foul at every given opportunity. The facts are there for all to see; Osun raises head and shoulders above the rest while other state heads are missing the opportunity to move their respective states out of penury . They instead feed the gullible more of the same; insecure and fearful.