THE Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), on Wednesday, in Ibadan, Oyo State, inaugurated a specialised body dubbed the “Elders’ Forum” as part of strategy to further its progress in the promotion of the cause of Islam and the interests of the Muslims in the region.
The MUSWEN president, Dr Sakariyau Babalola, said in a speech at the event, attended by stakeholders from across the South West, that the establishment of the forum, headed by Chief Abdulfattah Sofola (SAN), was borne out of the need for the Ummah in the region to raise its voice in the emerging political dynamics to ensure that “any political authority recognises our right to live our lives as Muslims.”
Part of the mandate of the forum which, according Dr Babalola, is peopled by the most experienced, tested and trusted leaders that the Ummah in the South West could parade, is to advise the MUSWEN leadership on the social, economic and political direction of the region and how to protect the rights of Muslims in the region.
He described the establishment of the forum as a testament to the “growing, deepening and ripening sense of unity and brotherhood” of the Muslim Ummah in south-western Nigeria.
He said for an organisation of MUSWEN’s standing, it was inevitable to build “an inclusive, broad-based and cohesive system” that would give every stakeholder a sense of belonging.
“Consensus building is critical to the attainment of our lofty vision and mission. Allied to this is the time-tested need for any living community to honour its elders and benefit from their wisdom. More importantly, Islam honours age,” Dr Babalola said.
He noted that while MUSWEN had always held stakeholders’ meetings involving elders of the Ummah to address matters of urgent importance on an ad-hoc basis, the leadership felt the need to activate the more permanent platform – the Elders’ Forum.
“Indeed, the Ummah needs to effectively provide alternative views to sometimes intemperate claims of regional socio-political groups that are inimical to our faith and other interests as Muslims. It is against this background that the establishment of MUSWEN Elders’ Forum has become imperative,” he added.
The chairman of the Board of Trustees of MUSWEN, Prince Abdul Jabbar Bola Ajibola (SAN), praised what he called the organisation’s genuine effort over the years geared towards bringing all stakeholders within the Muslim Ummah in the South West together under one umbrella without prejudices and discrimination.
Prince Ajibola, who was represented by the Chief of Protocol, Crescent University, Abeokuta, Alhaji Sa’eed Aweda, noted that a major challenge that Muslims faced as a community was the rancorous way in which they usually addressed issues bordering on their collective existence.
“We have always complained about how much unfair treatment Muslims have received even in places where we are in the majority. Having this platform that brings the elders together will help project our inclusiveness and unity and facilitate a united approach to finding solutions to such challenges,” he said.
“The concept of stakeholder is powerful. Every human organisation is a product of its stakeholders and failure is defined by the level of commitment of its stakeholders. Thus, an effective stakeholder management and engagement is a sine qua non for success. This is where today’s event becomes all the more important.
“There is no better way for us to achieve success than by reserving a place of honour for every member of our Ummah. That is the true spirit of Islamic brotherhood and unity.
“It always gladdens my heart whenever we meet as stakeholders under the banner of MUSWEN. Through such platforms, we have in unison confronted some common challenges and thereby recorded some milestones. The Elders’ Forum, as a more permanent platform, will help us to take this further,” the legal luminary added.
The Executive Secretary of MUSWEN, Professor Dawud Noibi, said the idea of putting together the Elders’ Forum was to widen the scope of the participation of stakeholders among the Muslims in the South West as part and parcel of the general Ummah of Muslims in the country.
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