By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief, ABUJA
The Islamic Development Bank, IsDB, has no agenda to Islamise Nigeria, Dr. Thamer Baazeem, Director of Marketing and Communication, has said.
Leading a four-man delegation to Vanguard Regional Office, Abuja, yesterday, Baazeem explained that the IsDB was like any other development finance institution mainly focusing on the socio-economic development of the people in member countries.
He said: “Sometimes, because our name is Islamic Development Bank, some people think that we do projects to Islamise the places we operate, especially here in Nigeria, we have heard that a lot. I can assure you, this is not in our agenda at all.
“We are a socio-economic development agency or institution. Our projects can be in a Christian dominated community, depending on the needs of the country.
“If the national development plan says we have a need here and the project went well, the project will be done there, no matter the religion or ethnicity in that part of the country.
“Even our projects in non-member countries we help Muslim communities in non-member countries but we help them in projects like schools and hospitals.
‘’These facilities are open to everyone and we help them to be better citizens of their countries because when people have better economic status, they begin to contribute to the development of their nations, no matter whether they are Muslims or not.
‘’We need the media to help us in tackling this perception because that will help a lot in the success of our projects in Nigeria and other countries.”
He commended Nigeria for its leadership role among African region members countries and the bank, as a whole, which prompted it to establish the African regional hub in Abuja.
“Our decision to open the Region Hub Office in Nigeria is a demonstration of how important Nigeria is for us and to also show the people the impact of our projects.
“We have a portfolio of $1.8 billion in Nigeria with quite a number of projects. These projects are in several sectors to improve the socio-economic status of the people of Nigeria,’’ he said.
He also commended Nigeria’s quick response in contributing to the Special Fund for Afghanistan, following the Taliban take-over of government of that country last year, which precipitated the crisis there, saying Nigeria was the first country to contribute to that fund, along with Saudi Arabia.
In his remarks, Senior Regional Communications Specialist, Mr. Assane Ba, Mustapha, said the IsDB usually runs four-year programmes with member countries, adding that such programmes were determined by the priority and the needs of each country.
The Regional Editor, Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Soni Daniel, who received the delegation on behalf of the Editor-in-Chief/General Manager, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, assured of the organisation’s readiness to collaborate with the bank to improve the socio-economic status of Nigerians.
According to him, Vanguard is driven by a philosophy based on how to make the society a better place for all Nigerians.