Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Islamic foundation say ‘poverty level in Nigeria very alarming’
* Empower Abia Muslims
By Steve Oko
The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, SCIA, as well as Islamic- based charity organisation, Zakat & Sadaqat Foundation have decried the poverty level in Nigeria, describing it as “very alarming”.
Both groups spoke Wednesday in Umuahia Abia State during the distribution of empowerment items to indigent Muslims in the state by the Zakat & Sadaqat Foundation.
Executive Director of the foundation, Suleiman Olagunji, said Nigeria was currently plagued with extreme poverty.
He noted that poverty “does not have ethnicity or religious bias “, hence the need for a unified action against the scourge which he regretted , was currently taking a toll on Nigerians of all strides.
Olagunji appealed to government and wealthy individuals to collaborate in the war against poverty by providing opportunities that would assist the indigent cross poverty line.
He explained that the foundation’s objective was to help minimise poverty in society through charity donations by wealthy Muslims.
According to him, every wealthy Muslim should donate 2.5 per cent of their net annual income as Zakat for distribution by the foundation to the poor.
He said the foundation was working assiduously to get rid of beggers from the streets.
Olagunji who commended Muslims faithful in remitting their Zakat, said the Zakat had lifted a number of people out of poverty.
He testified that a particular beneficiary of the programme in Kano who received N30,000 grant paid N50,000 (2.5% of her net annual income) as her own Zakat the
Olagunji who noted that only the poor could benefit from Zakat , urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the items.
He disclosed that N2 million was spent on the empowerment items including cash gifts to some of the beneficiaries.
Similarly, the Chairman of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Abia State, Alhaji Suleiman Ukandu said many Nigerians were wallowing under extreme poverty, and called for immediate collaborative action to tame the tide.
He also urged Muslim faithful to pay their Zakat to help bridge the gap between the poor and the rich.
He blamed the worsening insecurity in the country on poverty and appealed to government to help create the middle class to minimize the widening gap between the rich and the poor.
The former Council boss who explained that the essence of the exercise was to empower indigent Muslims especially those in the informal sector so they could be self reliant.
He said the scheme was also meant to foster unity among Nigerians of various divides as non Muslims are not discriminated against in the distribution of Zakat items.
Meanwhile, sewing machines, grinding machines, hair drier as well as public addressing system were among the empowerment items distributed.
Some of the beneficiaries Aishat Abdullahi, 22 -year old house wife from Borno; Zeliha Abubakar, mother of five from Jos; expressed gratitude to the foundation and Allah for the gesture which they said would add value to their lives.
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