•We must be united to achieve greater things —Sultan of Sokoto
•Hamzat, Fola Adeola, Babalakin, others speak
By Haroon-Ishola Balogun
Muslim scholars, captains of industries, royal fathers and Muslims in private and public establishments on Sunday gathered in Lagos for the launch of the N10 billion Endowment Fund initiated by the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN).
At the epoch-making event, held at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, the umbrella body of all Muslim communities, institutions and associations in the southwest, Nigeria, also inaugurated a Board of Trustees (BoT) to manage the fund independently.
Leading the BoT is Alhaji Tajudeen Fola Adeola, Chairman, FATE Foundation with Alhaji Rafiu Ebiti, MUSWEN Deputy President; Alhaji Olalekan Belo, Founder and Managing Director of FCSL Asset Management; Alhaji Abdul Rauf Wale Babalakin, SAN, Chairman, Bi-Courtney Group of Companies among others.
The launch was meant to build a world-class Skill acquisition and Empowerment Center for the youths. This will ultimately reduce the level of poverty and foster unity among all classes of people in the region.
MUSWEN’s success is for Nigeria Ummah —Sultan of Sokoto
The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, basking in the euphoria of successes so far achieved by MUSWEN since its establishment in 2008, said it is for the benefit of the Ummah, not only in southwest but Nigeria at large.
The Sultan, who doubled as the chief host added that his presence at the event was invaluable.
According to him, “My presence signifies a lot. This is MUSWEN. Whatever success MUSWEN gets, is for the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria. Wherever a Muslim is developing, I am happy that another Muslim somewhere is happy. We will continue to work together with MUSWEN.
“I want to also emphasise 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.”
Sultan Abubakar advised MUSWEN to form a team to mobilise funds from the well-to-do in the country for the actualisation of these projects.
However, the revered monarch made a passionate appeal to governors in the southwest, many of whom sent representatives, to support the MUSWEN project, irrespective of their religious affiliations.
Govt will support MUSWEN project, Hamzat assures
The Deputy Governor of Lagos state, Dr. Hamzat who represented the state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu commended MUSWEN, for the good initiative, which he said will create opportunity for the youths to have access to finance, education and health services in the nearest future.
“This sort of initiative which will help train, educate and provide opportunities for Muslim youths must be commended,” he noted.
Hamzat expressed hope that MUSWEN will use the project to reduce the alarming rate of intolerance in the 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.”
MUSWEN, hope of South West Muslims —President
In his welcome speech, MUSWEN President, Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo, said the organisation has emerged as a platform for solid unity and a symbol of hope for the Muslims of the southwest region.
He noted that the establishment of MUSWEN in 2008 has thrown up challenges, some of which had been addressed by previous leaders of the organisation.
“When I assumed office as President in November 2020, I made a renewed call for financial intervention in the day to day administration of MUSWEN and to prepare it for the huge tasks still ahead. A few responses were received in the form of regular subscriptions that have greatly lessened the difficulties of financing small projects and running the office. I thank you for answering the clarion call.”
Oladejo appealed for financial interventions from the public to prosecute the big programmes of MUSWEN.
He assured that the funds estimated to be N10 billion would be expended judiciously for the execution of programmes and projects which include education and empowerment of Muslim women and youths to reduce unemployment and poverty, development of an entrepreneurship centre for skills acquisition, establishment of scholarship fund for human capital development and support for healthcare needs of the Ummah, among others, following the inauguration of board of trustees for the endowment fund.
“This is the amount we want to raise and invest and whose returns we plan to use to implement the projects and programmes. In order to account properly for the N10 billion to be raised, MUSWEN will prepare a Trust Deed immediately after this event for the management of the Endowment Fund. The Trustees of the Fund will be appointed and they will manage the affairs of the Fund independently.
“It is necessary to state that the Trustees of the Fund will be different from the Trustees of MUSWEN to ensure the former’s independence and objectivity. I must also mention that one of the international accounting firms will be appointed to audit the finances of the Fund on a regular basis. This information will be published and every contributor will also be duly informed. Distinguished brothers and sisters, It is now my honour to appeal to you to donate generously to the MUSWEN Endowment Fund in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.”
We’ll bequeath enduring legacy for future generations —Chairman
The chairman of the occasion, Dr. Sulaiman Adebola Adegunwa, represented by Dr. Lateef Temitayo Lawal, noted that the presence of many eminent personalities demonstrated a show of eagerness towards creating lofty impressions for Islam and Muslims in the region, urging key players to donate generously to the cause.
“This is a great day in the history of MUSWEN. Our collective presence here today is a great indication of our readiness to project Islam loftily in our region and to serve as competent agents of change for Yoruba Muslim Ummah from the quagmire of abject poverty that has been threatening their lives for a long time.
“This, therefore, informed my excitement at seeing you, great stakeholders of our great organisation, MUSWEN at this new beginning of a new commitment.
“I believe that with our support, MUSWEN could strengthen Muslims of the southwest and bequeath an enduring legacy to the future generation such that our children can compete favourably with their peers anywhere in the world.
‘We must expand MUSWEN’ —Babalakin
The Chairman, Bi-Courtney Group of Companies, AbdurRauf Wale Babalakin, SAN, stressed the need to expand MUSWEN to be able to battle problems that are peculiar to the southwest.
He noted that some conscious efforts made by well-meaning Muslims in the past were hijacked by some overzealous extremists, urging MUSWEN to come up with ways to absorb passionate Muslims who want and need to learn about pristine Islam into their fold.
“We’re coming from an angle where most of us grew up in a very secular – not Christian – environment. People who profess Islam and want to be Muslims, but lack the basic understanding of pristine Islam, MUSWEN should look into ways of absorbing such people.
MUSWEN must come across to every potential investor as above board. There is so much money in the country, but the money that is the premise on hard work will only work for sane and purposeful areas. We have to create that impression that we have what it takes.”
Without education, poverty’ll continue to rise among Muslims —Sheikh Ahmad
Keynote speaker, National Missioner of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh AbdurRahman Ahmad stressed the need for Muslims to acquire education, saying without it, poverty will continue to rise, especially among the Muslim community.
He said, “Today in Nigeria, our challenge is poverty. So many Nigerians live below the poverty line. You can see what’s happening to our educational infrastructure, including our industry. When you want to build a house now, the majority of people to be employed are non-Nigerians. This isn’t good for us as a country. That’s why we have so much poverty. There is so much hunger, anger and violence. No amount of investment in arms and ammunition can reverse the trend.
“The only potent weapon against this is to educate the people to enable them to provide for themselves, only then are we going to have a turnaround,” he said.
No one preaches religion to a man without food —Adeola
Chairman, FATE Foundation and MUSWEN BoT member, Mr. Fola Tajudeen Adeola, canvassed for proper education of the youths and equip them with skills that will make them self-reliant and relevant in the emerging society.
He said, “If you go around Lagos, you’ll see how deep poverty is. There are areas densely populated with poor people and it reflects in the environment.
“What needs to be done is to find the poverty-stricken fellows, educate them, school them and equip them with skills that are required for survival in a society like ours. By doing so, we liberate them from their weakness and vulnerability.
“Let’s equip them intellectually. Excellence shuts the doors of discrimination and opens doors of opportunities. Let’s have Muslim painters, electricians and artisans who are good at what they do. Can we have Muslim scholars and academics with exceptional performance? Can we have Muslims who can not be sidelined or marginalized in their field of practice?
“These should be our goals. Let’s build centres aimed at attaining excellence in different areas. No one preaches religion to a man without food”.
Roll call at the launch
Among eminent Muslim leaders and high networth individual that graced the occasion include the Deputy governor of Lagos State, Dr Obafemi Kadidri Hamzat, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III; Sarkin Fulani of Lagos, Alhaji Mohammad Bambado; the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede; Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan and pioneer President, MUSWEN, Prof. Dawood Noibi; the first female Executive Director of GT Bank, Mrs Mosun Belo-Olusoga.
Others include former deputy governors of Lagos, Alhaja Lateefah Okunnu and Dr. Idiat Adebule; the Awujal¹ of the Ij¹bu Kingdom, Ìba Sikiru KayÍde AdetÍna, represented by HRM. Oba AbdulYakeen Fakowajo; Vice Chairman, Lagos Central Mosque, Alhaji Bashorun Alabi-Macfoy, who represented Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC Presidential candidate.
Others included representatives of Ogun, Oyo, Osun State governments; legal luminary, Muiz Adeyemi Banire SAN; Chief of Staff to the Ogun State Government, Alhaji Shuaib Afolabi Salis; President (Ameerah) of The Criterion, Hajia Fatimah Oyefeso; Prof. Tajudeen Gbadamosi and Alhaji Kunle Sanni, Chairman Lagos and Oyo Muslim Communities respectively.
The event was also attended by a former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Musiliu Smith; Founder, Sisters-in Deen (SID) Foundation, Nurat Akinlabi-Babalola; MUSWEN Vice President II, Alhaji Thabit Wale Sonaike; former LASIEC Commissioner, Barr. Musibau Oyefeso; Founder, Yusuf Olaolu Ali Foundation, Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Ali, SAN; Prof. Wole Abbas, University of Ibadan, amongst others.