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Tackling poverty through MUSWEN’s N10b endowment

By Sulaimon Salau
02 October 2022   |   5:35 am
The quest to eradicate poverty by empowering the young Nigerians to become promising entrepreneurs is gaining momentum with the launching of a N10 billion Endowment Fund by the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN).

Representative of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is also the Bashorun of Lagos and Executive Vice Chairman of Lagos Central Mosque, Alhaji Sikiru Alabi-Macfoy (left); MUSWEN President-General, Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo; Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Kadri Obafemi Hamzat and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.

The quest to eradicate poverty by empowering the young Nigerians to become promising entrepreneurs is gaining momentum with the launching of a N10 billion Endowment Fund by the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN).

   
Recent reports have revealed that unemployment and poverty are two of the major issues currently affecting Nigeria’s economy and its society.
  
World Data Lab in a recent report had stated that unemployment and poverty outlook for poverty alleviation in Nigeria is weak, and that an estimated 120 million Nigerians are expected to slip into extreme poverty by 2030.
 
This is even as the World Bank said that the number of poor Nigerians would reach 95.1 million in 2022. As part of the moves to guide against this projection and encourage the vibrant minds to venture into promising ventures, MUSWEN has launched a N10 billion Endowment Fund to equip the youths with skills that will make them self-reliant and relevant in the emerging society.
 
At the launching in Lagos, MUSWEN proposed to build a multi-million naira empowerment center that will educate the Muslim community, especially the youth, to acquire education and skills that will make them fit into the emerging society. It is also to reduce the poverty level and change the narrative of Islam and Muslims in the southwest. Besides, the center will promote national peace and unity.
  
MUSWEN President, Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo, appealed for financial interventions from the public to prosecute the big programmes of the organization, assuring that the N10 billion would be expended judiciously.
  
He said that the funds estimated to be N10 billion would be expended judiciously for the execution of laudable 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.”
  
Muslim scholars, captains of industries, royal fathers and Muslims in private and public establishments that gathered in Lagos for the launch of the fund applauded MUSWEN for the initiative, describing it as a platform for solid unity and symbol of hope for the Muslims of the southwest region.
  
Members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) inaugurated to manage the fund independently are: The founder and Managing Director of FCSL Asset Management, Alhaji Olalekan Belo; MUSWEN Deputy President, Alhaji Rafiu Ebiti; Chairman, Bi-Courtney Group of Companies, Alhaji Abdul Rauf Wale Babalakin, SAN, and Chairman, FATE Foundation, Alhaji Tajudeen Fola Adeola, who leads the team.
 
Speaking on the development, Dr. Wale Babalakin stressed the need to expand MUSWEN to be able to battle problems that are peculiar to Southwest.
  
Noting that some conscious efforts made by well-meaning Muslims in the past were hijacked by some overzealous extremists and he urged MUSWEN to come up with ways to absorb passionate Muslims who want and need to learn about pristine Islam into their fold.
 
He said: “We must expand MUSWEN! The group was founded by very dedicated people, but we must expand it to accommodate the peculiar problems of the southwest. 80% of those born into very educated Muslim families were not privileged to learn about pristine Islam.
   
“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”.
He also urged MUSWEN to create a convincing and compelling impression about itself before potential investors and partners.
 
MUSWEN must come across to every potential investor as above board. There is so much money in the country, but the money that is premise on hard work will only work for sane and purposeful areas. We have to create that impression that we have what it takes.”
  
The National Missioner of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh AbdurRahman Ahmad advocated 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 in the land. 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 provide for themselves, only then are we going to have a turnaround,” he said.
 
Chairman, FATE Foundation and a member of the Board of Trustees, Alhaji Tajudeen Fola Adeola, encouraged MUSWEN to educate Muslims, especially the youth 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 environments. What needs to be done in the face of this poverty is to find the poverty-stricken fellows in question, educate them, school them and equip them with skills that are required for survival in a society like ours. By so doing, 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”.
  
The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, emphasised the need for Muslims to be united and empowered.
   
“My presence signifies a lot. This is MUSWEN. Whatever success MUSWEN gets, is for the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria. Wherever a Muslim is developing, he is 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 advised MUSWEN to form a team to mobilise funds from the rich personalities in the country for the actualisation of theses projects.
  
However, the revered monarch made a passionate appeal to governors in the southwest to support the MUSWEN project, irrespective of their religious affiliations.
   
Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, commended MUSWEN, for the good initiative, which he believes will make youths have access to finance, education and health services in the nearest future.
 
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Abdulkadri Babafem Hamzat, said: “This sort of initiative which will help train, educate and provide opportunities for Muslim youths must be commended,” he noted.
 
According to him, the Lagos State Government will have a clear discussion with the leadership of MUSWEN and see in what areas they could be of support.
 
Sanwo-Olu 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,” he said.

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