Nigeria at 59: Muslim scholars express ray of hope

– It’s a collective duty to make Nigeria great again – Sheikh Onike

– Being humane, a prerequisite for a nation to develop – Ustadh Salman 

– It’s high time we exited myopic and parochial mindset – Prof. Akintola 

– Motive behind the Annual lecture, theme – Waali TMC

Muslim scholars have expressed optimism about the prospect of Nigeria despite plethora of challenges facing the country. 

The speakers, who gave this assurance at the 2019 annual lecture series of The Muslim Congress (TMC) in Lagos, however noted that, for Nigeria to be great, a collective responsibility of its citizenry is paramount.

Thousands of Muslim faithfuls thronged the open space of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, for the annual lecture, which was held simultaneously across five locations (Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Niger and Lagos) to commemorate Nigeria’s 59th Independence anniversary, with a unified theme, ‘Nigeria at 59: Time for decisive action’.

It’s a collective duty to make Nigeria great again- Sheikh Onike

The Chief Missioner of Nasrul-lahi-il-Fatih Society (NASFAT), Sheikh AbdulAzeez Onike, during his keynote address, stated, “Even though we are going through challenges, this country is still being blessed by Allah.”

According to him, When everybody feels that no good can be made of Nigeria, it means hope is lost in Allah. That is the kind of tendency demonstrated by the Shaytan when he lost hope in Allah. If he had sought forgiveness from Allah, he could have been forgiven.

He said, “So, we should not say that Nigeria cannot be good again. Who knows the expiry date of Nigeria? We are just about 59 years old. We are still going to 70, 80; so Nigeria still has the potential to be great again. But for Nigeria to be great, it is a collective responsibility.”

Sheikh Onike

He continued, “Anybody living on earth today is an ambassador of Allah on earth. Being an ambassador of Allah, you have roles to play. The best among men are those who are useful to their community. If you are in Nigeria, and you do not have a voter card; you didn’t participate in the election, and you are saying Nigeria is bad, it means you are also contributing to the things that are bad in Nigeria.”

Sheikh Onike, who thanked The Muslim Congress, said that the purpose of the gathering was to enliven the hope of Nigerians, stressing that, “There is nothing Allah cannot do. He is the one who said that His blessing is greater than His torment. So, who are those losing hope in Nigeria? Who are those that do not believe that Allah can still turn around the economy of Nigeria for better?”

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Being humane, a prerequisite for a nation to develop – Ustadh Salman 

While speaking on the topic, there’s need to be humane and shun bigotry. A Senior Assistant Registrar at the Staff Development and Training department, YABATECH, Ustadh Saeed Salman said compassion is one of the prerequisites for a nation to develop.

He added that a country where its citizens promote bigotry, hatred and intolerance of the highest order will never experience growth and development. In addition, when other countries are progressing, such a country will be in a mess.

According to Ustadh Salman, these two qualities, (being humane and bigotry) which form the basis of his presentation, are key determinants of a developed and cursed state respectively. Hence, being humane and benevolent is to be imbibed while the bigotry and hatred should be shunned.

He said: “It is well explained in the Qur’an and Sunnah. The best of mankind, Prophet Muhammad, strongly warned against bigotry and exhibited the highest level of compassion with people of other religions. He was the best example of character.

Ustadh Salman

“When he got to Madinah, he met the Christians, Jews and other Idol Worshippers there. He related peacefully and successfully with all these categories of people despite their differences. Since Nigeria is a multi-religious state, Muslims must learn to live in peace with members of other faiths and move the country forward.”

“Luckily for the Muslims, Allah has revealed to us the level of relationships with the non Muslims in the Qur’an, one of Allah’s greatest treasures given to mankind. Unfortunately, we don’t showcase this treasure. We don’t dwell on it’s tenets, whereas it is all-encompassing.

“All we need to do is to look into our inherited treasure and imbibe the dictates of Allah and the teachings of Muhammad in developing our Nation. I want to believe strongly that if we can do this, our nation will develop more than what we are seeing now and the citizens of this country will enjoy higher standards of living.

It’s high time we exited myopic and parochial mindset – Prof. Akintola

The climax of this year’s Nigeria at 59 lecture series held in Lagos, was the presentation of the Professor of Islamic Eschatology and the Director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof Ishaq Akintola who spoke on the topic; ‘Exiting the mediocre mindset, let’s embrace Professionalism’.

Prof. Akintola said it’s time for Nigerians to exit from myopic and parochial mindset, adding that, “there is corruption among people, including parents and the youths. We need a change of mindset.”

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Prof. Akintola

According to him, “We are calling on the youths and the parents to change. We are calling on the school authorities and government to encourage skill acquisition and concentrate more on that instead of ordinary paper qualifications and not just issuing more academic certificates which may be worthless after graduation.

We are also calling on parents to endeavour to train their children in vocations of their choice while they are still in school; so that they would not be rendered useless after leaving school.”

In an exclusive interview with Muslim News, Prof. Akintola berated the management of ISI, University of Ibadan for suspending Miss Ikhlas Olasubomi Badiru,  for two weeks over the Hijab issue, describing the action of the Principal, Mrs Phebean Olowe as the height of religious fanaticism.

He said, “What we are seeing in ISI, University of Ibadan, particularly with regard to the issue of Hijab and the way little children are being treated because they wore Hijab is the height of religious fanaticism and intolerance. The University of Ibadan and its International school have failed to protect the girl-child.

“The same girl-child they keep making noise about its importance in promoting their education are now being locked out because of a mere headscarf that the Great Britain, the US, Sweden, Finland, Germany and other European countries allow interested pupils to adorn on their uniforms.

These are civilised countries where Muslims are just 4 percent, 3 percent, and they allow the use of hijab in their schools. It is a shame that in a country where we claim to be independent since 1960, some have deliberately failed to integrate the Muslims, carry them along and tolerate the variety of our cultures.

“ISI, in particular, with the suspension of Ikhlaas last week has demonstrated that it is not ready to tolerate Muslims. ISI is promoting hatred! ISI is promoting bigotry!,” he added.

Prof Akintola with Chief Imam of Lagos, Sheikh Sulaiman Oluwatoyin Abou-Nolla

Prof. Akintola called on the Muslim youths who are angry about the passive action of the leadership of the Nigerian Muslim community to exercise patience, stressing that the Muslim leaders are unhappy about the incessant assault on Muslims and are working behind the scene to put an end to the needless molestation.

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“I can tell you that we are in touch with the leadership of the  Muslims in Nigeria, and they aren’t happy about the molestation of Muslim girls in Hijab especially at the ISI, UI. The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Sa’ad is not silent and he, as the Chancellor of UI, is reaching out to the management of the school to end the assault.

“In fact, the ISI hijab repression was among the issues discussed yesterday (Saturday) at the NSCIA expanded the general purpose committee meeting. The leadership is working behind the scene. Hence, the Nigerian Muslims, especially the youth need to exercise patience with the leadership.”

Motive behind the Annual lecture, theme – Waali TMC

Earlier in his welcome address, the Lagos Waali of the Congress in Lagos, Engineer Mikail Animashaun said the annual lecture has been a platform where the society makes policy prescriptions on the views, ideas and positions that will help move the nation in the right direction and in a way that is effective, yet efficient.

Waali TMC Lagos

“It gladdens my heart that we are here gathered to talk about the progress and development of our dear nation, Nigeria. Only through peaceful dialogue and co-operation that the desires and aspirations of each and every one can be assured and actualized,” he added.

Speaking on the idea behind the theme, “Nigeria at 59: Time for Decisive Actions,” Engr. Animashaun noted that there was need to x-ray Nigeria’s 59 years of independence.

According to him, without any iota of doubt, Nigeria has suffered major setbacks in infrastructure, economy and security. These setbacks can be traced to a lack of focus on and sustenance of the country’s strategic development plan.

“It is high time the governments at all levels woke up to taking decisions based on decisive, dedicated and patriotic action plans that will drive the nation’s socio-economic infrastructure to enviable heights.

“The Federal Government needs to show extra zeal and commitment in building strong institutions powered by strong and motivated people and also fortify our economy through its diversification and encouragement of foreign direct investments,” he added.

– Rasheed Abubakar 

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