...Muslims have no reason to be poor if we follow tenets of Islam – Sultan 

…as MUSWEN launches N10b to build secretariat 

By Ishola Balogun

The Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Abdulkadri Obafemi Hamzat has warned against discrimination of any person on account of religion in the state or any part of the country.

Also the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III urged Muslims to remain united irrespective of differences.

Both leaders gave the charge at the N10bn Endowment Fundraising for the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN) on Sunday, raising concerns about the alarming rate of religious intolerance in Nigeria. 

The fundraising meant to build a world-class national secretariat, as well as a resource and entrepreneurial centre in Ibadan, Oyo State, was attended by prominent personalities in government and private establishments. 

Delivering a goodwill message on behalf of the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Dr Hamzat said, “We should not deceive ourselves, religion intolerance is still prevalent in our society.

The deputy governor recalled two instances of religious intolerance in the country, “Let me tell you what happened two months ago. A young man came to my office and told me about one Nigerian bank where he had an interview and was successful. They told him he needs to meet the MD. 

“Of course, he came from the US. He met the MD and was asked when he was going to resume. He said he would resume on Monday, In shaa Allah. The man said ‘no, remove the In shaa Allah’. It happened in this country just two months ago,” the deputy governor said.

Besides, he recalled the revelation from one of the survivors of the collapsed building in Ikoyi, Adebowale Sikiru, who narrated how he was rejected and denied employment in the collapsed building for being a Muslim.

“The building that collapsed in Gerrard, Ikoyi, we heard what happened. Somebody went for an interview, and he was not chosen because he is a Muslim. So, the discrimination is still there and we must find a way to say it is not the right thing. Nobody should be discriminated against on account of their religion, whether a Muslim or a Christian, or even a non-believer. It’s not our call.”

Dr. Hamzat commended MUSWEN, a non-governmental and non-political umbrella body of all Muslim communities, institutions and associations in southwest Nigeria for their initiative to build a world-class national secretariat as well as a resource and entrepreneurial centre.

He described the initiative as a worthy ambition that will enable youths to access finance, education and healthcare services.

“This sort of infrastructural cause that helps to train, educate and provide opportunities for Muslim youths must be commended,” he said.

He pledged that the Lagos State Government will have a clear discussion with the leadership of MUSWEN and see in what areas it could be of support.

Hamzat expressed hope that MUSWEN will use the project to reduce the rate of intolerance in society.

“It’s a good initiative that hopefully will create access or ability for our youths to have some of the things that are missing today – like access to finance, education and health services.

“Our government appreciates the cooperation it has always enjoyed from different religious organisations and their timely interventions in providing solutions to issues.”

Dr. Hamzat urged Muslims to up their game, stressing that responsibilities can only be given to those who demonstrate the capacity to own them.

“As suggested, our Muslim brothers and sisters must also up their game. For instance, in Lagos, what we did was to break our schools into six zones and make principals permanent secretaries. We call them Tutor-Generals/Permanent Secretaries. It started a long time ago, during the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. We have six of them, and none is a Muslim.

“So, somebody came to me and said you are in government and none of them is a Muslim. I asked for the list, none of them passed. Then, I asked what I was supposed to do. Will I just give you an appointment just because you are a Muslim? No, we have criteria. The question is what are we doing to assist?”

Harps on competence

Hamzat charged Muslims to champion the advocacy of competence as the country moves to select new leaders and advised that talks on ethnicity and religion in selecting leaders must be deemphasized.

“We commend the efforts of all religious leaders in ensuring that our people continue to live in peace despite major differences. I think it’s important that we also address why we should be talking about religion when it comes to leadership. What happens to honour? What happens to knowledge? What happens to competence? As Muslims, we must champion the fact that competence is key.

“I would like to appreciate the leadership of MUSWEN for putting this together. I thank those who have contributed generously to this event.” he concluded.

We’ve no reason to be poor — Sultan

Also, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III called on Muslims in Nigeria to remain united irrespective of their differences.

Alhaji Abubakar III made the call on Sunday in Lagos at the N10 billion Endowment Fundraising organised by the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN).

He said while outright uniformity cannot be attained, Nigerian Muslims must remain united without allowing extraneous factors to come in-between them.

In his goodwill message at the well-attended event by top Muslim personalities in Nigeria, the leader of the Nigerian Muslims narrated how he was part of the formation of MUSWEN.

“I was in Ibadan in 2008 when it was established. Alhamdulilah today, we are gathered for this very important event in the effort to move MUSWEN forward. I’m part of the MUSWEN history. I want to thank the president of MUSWEN who is also the Deputy President-General (South) of the Supreme Council. I like to appreciate Prof. Oloyede, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council.”

The Sultan, who said his presence at the event could not be quantified in monetary terms said “My presence signifies a lot. This is MUSWEN. Whatever success MUSWEN gets, it’s the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria that is getting that success. Wherever a Muslim is developing I am happy, there is another Muslim somewhere who is happy. We will continue to work together with MUSWEN.

“I want to also emphasize the need for Muslims to be united. MUSWEN is promoting unity. We can be united, but we don’t have to be uniform. That’s why we have people who are Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas, Fulanis and so on, but we are all Muslims. We need to be united and not let anything come between us.”

The Sultan, however, made a passionate appeal to governors in southwest states, many of whom were represented at the event, to support the MUSWEN project.

He also enjoined the MUSWEN leadership to form a team to mobilise funds from well-to-do individuals and groups in the country.

“We all must ensure this project is completed within the shortest possible time. I also urge our governors to support this cause. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Muslim or Christian governor. Donate to this cause because you are helping humanity. You are helping the people you are leading. If they are happy and stable, you will be happy and stable too.

“This is a positive project, and I believe after this event, we should have a team that will reach out to people and see how they can contribute.

“As President of the Supreme Council, I believe we have a lot to do and we have this common passion to elevate the standard of life of Muslims, not only in the south but across the world. And not only Muslims but also non-Muslims that Allah puts together.

“There is no reason for Muslims to be poor if we follow the tenets of Islam. We should help one another, pay zakat and so on. We have no business with poverty but Almighty Allah challenges us with many things.”

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