Government urged to tackle poverty through Zakat
The National Amir of The Companion, Alhaji Wale Sonaike, has enjoined the Federal Government to tap into the nation’s abundant resources to tackle the extreme poverty bedeviling the citizens.
Sonaike, who made this call at the yearly Zakat Fund Distribution Ceremony or ganised by The Companion, in Lagos, said Zakat has the potential to eradicate poverty and also generate surplus funds, which would be sufficient for the country.
Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, is a religious obligation for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria stipulated in the Holy Quran.
Sonaike said the government could learn quite a number of lessons from what the Muslims are doing, by putting in place an institutional framework that would enable a national Zakat distribution programme.
“It will take a lot of impacts, I am sure that quite a number of Nigerians that have been dis-enfranchised would taste from the resources of the Muslims that are set aside under Zakat mechanism”.
He noted that it would be quiet difficult for the Nigeria government to institute Zakat because Nigerians claimed that they are running a secular system.
“However, the government has adopted different policies to alleviate poverty including the N-Power and Trader money, but the money given out to people is small. If the government can put machinery in place that could encourage all Nigeria Muslims to pay their Zakat, they will be surprised on the amount that Zakat would generate,” he said.
He said the group is planning to take the Zakat fundraising to the next level. “We have grown it over the years, we want to be identified with it. Now we want it to stand alone as a business done in the course of Allah. We will build it around an executive secretary whose responsibility is to grow it, generate money and also identify beneficiaries. We want to move it to other states.
“People are displaced from one reason or the other, we do not necessarily have to wait until the Zakat period to disburse. It is our intention that we go to nooks and crannies of Nigeria and identified with the Muslims,”
He advised the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity they have gotten and also strive to be a Zakat payer.
“They should strive and set goals for themselves to start contributing zakat. If you have benefited from Zakat you can also make someone who is coming up to also benefit”.
The Secretary Companion Zakat and Sadaqat Committee, Abdul Kabir Baruwa said the group is disbursing close to 4 million to about 50 people.
He said the group is trying to ensure that the Zakat funds get to grassroots, those that basically need it. “ We want the proceeds to get to the eight categories of people that Allah mentioned in Suratul Tawbah.
He noted that Nigeria women need financial support and economic empowerment and they need to be supported.
“Among the beneficiaries is a student that was almost sent out of school because she was unable to pay school fees. Widows that need family support and lot of people that need equipment to run their businesses” Baruwa said.
He urged people to key into paying of Zakat for the benefit of the Muslim Ummah.
“The Muslim population in Nigeria is huge, if all Islamic organizations are functioning well and all their members pay their Zakat, there will be nothing like poverty among the Muslim Ummah,” he said.
He urged the Islamic organization to be more vibrant for them to engage the society and change the narratives.
A beneficiary, Mrs Taibat Aworodina, commended the group, she said she was given a shop to run cold room business but does not have the resources to start the business.
“My sister gave me her shop to be used instead of hawking but I don’t have the required fund to run the business. I was given the Zakat form by my organization and on getting here today I was given a deep freezer. I am so happy and I prayed to Allah continue to enrich the donor and make me one of those that will be paying zakat,” she said.