Prof. Rahman Bello, the immediate past Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos has called on Muslim groups in the country to harmonise their collection of zakat into a strong institution.
Bello spoke at the 14th Zakat Distribution, where cash and empowerment items worth over N142.9 million were given out to 1,516 beneficiaries by the Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation (ZSF) in Lagos.
He said there is a need to evolve a strong zakat institution to address challenges like healthcare and unemployment facing the Muslim society and improve the welfare of the people.
Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, which is the payment made annually under Islamic law on certain kinds of property and used for charitable and religious purposes.
“One of the biggest problem ….. has created for us today, is the high level of unemployment.
“And the unemployment is not just low, it’s at the high calibre level of unemployment.
“And by this, we find hundreds of thousands of graduates of higher institutions working around without anything to do.
“This also culminate into poor health challenges and resources are not able to keep us going and we have seen the Zakat Foundation now having to do the needful within their finding into health challenges.
“So, there is need to also thinker with some of these issues relating to unemployment and all these challenges we are facing.
“So, I want to urge Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation to join hands with other zakat foundations and Muslims groups in Nigeria to start looking at the possibility of setting up institutions that would assist in addressing unemployment.
“We need Muslim specialist clinics and hospitals.
“We need to set up clinics, “specialist ones” particularly that will attend to many ailments that are getting more complicated and threatening our economy.
“By this, we will be able to employ Muslim medical personnel into those clinics; they will give treatments in line with Islamic injunction.
“They will also be able to attract Muslim medical experts from all over the world to come and assist.
“By this, the money we would be spending on medical attention would reduce while we would have also help to reduce unemployment.’’
In his welcome address, the Executive Director of the ZSF, Mr Sulayman Olagunju said the foundation was deeply touched “to see the number of Nigerians, who are wallowing in poverty increasing’’.
This, he said, propelled the ZSF to step up its zakat collection on yearly basis.
“Today, with the support of our zakat payers, we are distributing N142,938,905.00 in Lagos State.
“As at October, we have distributed the zakat across 17 states, including the Federal Capital Territory as against 10 states covered in 2017.
“So far in all the 17 states, we have distributed cash and empowerment tools worth N318,152130 fund mobilised this year,’’ Olagunju said.
Last year, he said, N191,104,352 zakat funds were mobilised and distributed.
The Chairman, Board of the foundation, Dr Tajudeen Yusuf, hinted on a new programme being initiated by the ZSF to make zakat beneficiaries “become economically accountable and self-reliant’’.
Tagged “Kososi Forum” (No poverty forum), Yusuf said the programme, to be launched on Dec. 23, seek to equip the zakat beneficiaries.
By our correspondent