The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development recently launched a N75b FG fund through the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (N-YIF) initiative. This development has been lauded across the nation, given that the fund will be used to invest in the innovative ideas and skills of some 500,000 Nigerian youths.
However, the Minister in charge, Mr. Sunday Dare said during the unveiling on October 15 that the loan “has an interest rate of 5% per annum and a tenor of 5 years with a moratorium of up to 12 months.”
A critical look through the terms and conditions of the loan, one discovers that the loan is interest-based, meaning it is not sharia-complaint.
Since Muslims don’t take out loans that are interest-based, it soon becomes clear that Muslim Nigerian youths may not be captured in this initiative at the end of the day.
In the glorious Qur’an, Allah categorically tells the believing men and women thus:
“O you who have believed, do not consume usury (interest based transactions), doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may be successful.” Surah Aal-E-Imran, Ayah 130.
In essence, the interest part of the FG fund literally makes it prohibited for Muslim Nigerian youths.
As a way of explaining this, in Islam, money is regarded as simply a medium of exchange. When someone lends a second person some money, no work is said to have been done and neither has a business transaction taken place. In essence, the borrower is only required to pay the exact amount borrowed.
Without doubt, the eventual inability of Muslim Nigerian youths to access this FG fund will greatly affect this group of Nigerian youths.
According to Pew Research Center, Nigeria has the world’s fifth largest Muslim population, a vast majority of whom are youths.
At this period of mass youth unemployment and economic meltdown, missing out on such opportunity as this only portends a deepening of poverty within the Muslim population.
Since the approval of the fund and the subsequent opening of a registration portal online, many Nigerian youths have registered for the initiative in order to access their share of the fund and invest it in their businesses.
It is therefore saddening that Muslim Nigerian youths who are conscious of falling into Haram (forbidden) will be at such a disadvantage.
This writer wishes to use this medium to call the attention of concerned quarters — Muslim leaders and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development—to this cogent issue. It is hoped that being a government which has the interest of all at heart, the loan would be made interest-free, soonest.
By Abdul Ahmed Soyebo