Monday, 31 December 2012

(40): Poverty alleviation, good governance and conflict resolution (I)

Saturday, 9th Safar, 1434, equivalent to 22nd December, 2012, was an important date in the history of Nigerians living in the UK. It was the day when the winter conference and the Annual General Meeting of the Nigeria Muslim Forum, a UK-based charity organisation with specific focus on Nigeria, organized a conference with the theme of this piece as part of the contribution of Nigerians in Diaspora towards addressing the social, economic and security challenges facing the country. It was unique in the sense that it brought together different people with wealth of experience required to move the society forward. The conference took place at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom.

The speakers at the conference included a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Abdurrahman Dambazau (rtd), currently a fellow at Harvard University; former FCT Minister, Dr Aliyu Moddibo; President of the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria, Dr Ibrahim Datti Ahmad; Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, a prominent Islamic scholar in Nigeria and currently a PhD candidate in Scotland; the Chairman of the Kano state Council of Ulama, Sheikh Ibrahim Khalil, also attending a course in Cambridge; Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr Mathew Hassan Kukah, and Dr Abdullahi Shehu, a neurologist based in Coventry, who is also the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Muslim Forum.

The idea behind the conference came about during an Executive Committee meeting of the Forum in Leeds earlier in 2012, when Alhaji Bashir Shuwa, an elder based in Leeds, suggested the idea. He said it is a way of coming up with a practical solution towards addressing the challenges facing Nigeria, especially the North that is gradually becoming difficult to govern due to the challenges the above conference seeks to address. Although the idea did not materialize as originally envisaged, nevertheless the conference was a step in the right direction.

The first key paper was presented by Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, who paid significant attention to understanding good governance from an Islamic perspective. According to Sheikh Isa, good leadership in Islam stems from having a good leader, because when you have a good leader, there is every tendency the rest of the society will accept and follow his good examples. According to him, one of the problems we have in Nigeria is having what he calls “irreligious religious people” governing the affairs of the people, therefore misleading them and giving Islam a bad name. His paper provided a context for the entire conference on the issue of good governance.

The next presentation was by Lt General Dambazau (rtd), who injected a strong intellectual dose to the conference. His paper, which focuses on “poverty alleviation, security and stability,” was presented under the chairmanship of Mashood Baderin, a Professor of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies and a UN envoy on human rights in Darfur. The paper presented statistics and data about the state of poverty in Nigeria with specific reference to Northern Nigeria. He paid attention to the socio-economic and cultural factors that promote poverty and bring instability.

According to him, while majority of the Nigerian population is in the north according to the Nigerian census, the region is the hub of poverty. He cited example with both social and cultural issues, for example while people tend to be polygamous, “and there is nothing wrong with that,” but what is not right is for a person to marry more wives and have a lot of children, and then run away to Lagos or other places, and his family will not hear from him again. He called on northern politicians holding political offices to come up with an economic blueprint like the southern politicians holding political office are doing.

Dr Aliyu Modibbo`s presentation was more practical when compared to the others. He suggested a lot of areas that can be developed through entrepreneurship which can bring employment to the people. A key area he paid attention to was the issue of remittances which Nigerians in Diaspora send home. According to him, in the last couple of years Nigerians in Diaspora have contributed more than $2 billion to the Nigerian economy. He suggested that with proper strategy this money can bring a lot of change. He concluded by suggesting to Nigerians in Diaspora to consider setting up micro-economic banks.

President of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, Dr Ibrahim Datti Ahmad, dwelt on the experience of states that practise Shariah in Nigeria, and some of the efforts towards poverty alleviation. His paper elaborated on the issue of Zakat and its role in alleviating poverty. He equally called on Islamic scholars to live up to their responsibilities rather than frequently visiting the houses of political office holders seeking favours like the opportunity to be sponsored to Hajj or Umra.

To be continued insha Allah.

11:20 pm
17th Safar 1434
30th December 2012


  1. Nice piece. It would be more productive if, according to Prof Baderin, some of the southern politicians' economic blueprints, could be shared with us; and more importantly how they're helping with poverty alleviation in the south.

  2. Nigerians in Diaspora send money home regularly to their loved ones without waiting for the government. If they set up a micro-finance group or the like; what's the guarantee that the poor people back home will get their entitlements and that it will not become another avenue for embezzlement and misappropriation. Charity will and should not replace good governance. We ordinary people will continue to do charity; let the government do good governance. Gaskiya!!!

  3. I hope the Northern politicians will read this and make a fresh start.