The next paper was presented by Dr Mathew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese. Dr Kukah presented his paper via a recorded message as he was unable to attend the meeting physically. His presentation focused on poverty alleviation, faith and intolerance. As contained in the communique of the conference produced by Dr Musa Aliyu and Malam Sulaiman Baba, Dr Kukah “explained that diversity should be seen as an advantage to the society as it enhances growth, although in Northern Nigeria the reverse is the case due to the failure to manage it well in view of the crises the region faces. He therefore advocated respect for human dignity as opposed to simply tolerating each other and significant boost to governments’ poverty alleviation policies. He also urged the Diaspora communities to, in addition to financially lending support, contribute ideas towards tackling the challenges and elevate the status of the country internationally”.
The last speaker was Dr Abdullahi Shehu who presented a paper that focused on the role of diaspora in addressing good governance and poverty alleviation. As summarized in the communique, Dr Shehu “ lamented the poor living conditions of the people even when compared to smaller and much poorer African countries. Poverty, he posited, could result in anarchy and possibly snowball into violence or terrorism and therefore must be tackled head on. He also emphasized the need for good and accountable leadership in the country, which he said is a prerequisite for peace and security. To the NMFUK, he advised the organization to continue in its bid to support the people back home in various ways with even further commitment”.
Before the end of the conference, a documentary, produced by Bluebandit Films, was shown to the participants on the projects undertaken by the Nigeria Muslim Forum, UK; the orphan sponsorship scheme, the healthcare outreach programme, the disaster relief and Zakat collection and distribution. Of course, organizing conferences by Nigerians to look at the problems of the country and suggest ways of addressing them is not a new thing. What however make the NMFUK winter conference different is that it was built on a platform that is action oriented. Already the Forum is sponsoring the education of orphans at the cost of 6250 Naira per month to cover the cost of education, medicine, clothing and feeding per orphan. The sponsorship comes from individual donors who take care of an orphan and interestingly some of the sponsors are not even Nigerians. Secondly the conference is built on a successful healthcare outreach programme for rural dwellers, with one successfully conducted in Kibiya, and as I am writing, another health care project is being concluded in Anka Local Government Area of Zamfara State. The Forum intends to acquire a mobile clinic in the future to help facilitate the outreach programme to every part of Nigeria.
The last one year has been very productive with so many accomplishments recorded. But truth be told, when you look at the potential of the members of NMFUK, more could be achieved. This is a Forum that has so many accomplished talents including professors, consultants, engineers etc. While the charity status of the Forum was a game changer, more effort should be tailored towards sustaining the current momentum. By Allah’s mercy the organization is blessed with very hardworking and visionary individuals, and they need the support of every one to succeed.
In the last one year, I learnt something very important. For you to succeed, you need to be ambitious even though ambition alone is not enough to guarantee success. I also learnt that in leadership, there is nothing more important than working and being surrounded by people who have similar vision even if you differ on the process of delivering on the vision. As long as you meant well, the road will become smooth along the line even if it appears to be rough at the beginning of the journey. It is also clear that you can have the best ideas, as many people do, but those ideas will mean nothing if you do not do the basic preparation that will lay the foundation to uplift those ideas to a greater height.
For me personally, I couldn’t be more grateful for the support I received while serving as the President (Amir) of Nigeria Muslim Forum, UK. It was an organization that offered me the rare opportunity to serve it twice in the last seven years, and I thank Allah (SWT) for his bounties. It is now time to step back so that other people can have the opportunity to build further on what we started collectively. I wish my successor, Malam Sani Muazu Makarfi, the new chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr Abdulahi Shehu and the entire team a successful tenure as they work to strengthen this young but great charity.
Dr. Yusha’u (email@example.com), a former staff of the BBC, is a public affairs analyst. He is a weekly columnist for PREMIUM TIMES
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