All gratitude and glorifications
e due to Allah (SWT), the Lord of the worlds and all creatures. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon the noblest of mankind, Muhammad (SAW), his household, companions and those who follow in his footsteps till the day of reckoning. Amin.

I honourably welcome our distinguished Chairman of today’s occasion, our distinguished Islamic scholars, our revered and distinguished royal fathers of the day, and our special guests of honour. I also welcome our honourable guests here seated, our competent lecturers, men of the media and our distinguished brothers and sisters. It is with joy and happiness that I welcome you to this honourable gathering on the occasion of the 1438 Muharram Get-Together. We should glorify and thank Almighty Allah for giving us yet another opportunity to make our own contributions towards the growth and development of humanity despite the numerous challenges that we face everyday. Alhamdulillah!

The Muharram Get-Together is the platform through which The Muslim Congress (TMC) communicates her opinions and contributions to societal development, charts new paths for social, moral, economic and political development, and engenders brotherhood, unity and harmony amongst the multi-ethnic and multi-religious groupings that constitute the entity called Nigeria.

Muslims have been known with the Islamic Calendar since it was bequeathed to us by the second Caliph in Islam, Umar Ibn Khattab, in 16 A.H. (637 CE). The Islamic New Year is not about celebrations or merry-making since it signifies a very important event in Islam, the event of the Hijrah. This event was also the first major sacrifice made by the whole Ummah for the preservation of Islam at its very beginning. The Hijrah year should therefore embolden Muslims every year to make the kind of sacrifices made by the first Muslims. We believe that the constant use of the Hijrah Calendar for our acts of worship, and for reference to major historical events, will help us as Muslims to consciously connect with our roots and to further enhance our knowledge of our religion and history.

The theme for the 1438 MUHARRAM GET-TOGETHER cannot be more apt. THE MUSLIM WORLD AND THE CHALLENGES OF LEADERSHIP, as the theme for this year’s Get-Together, reflects the biggest challenge that is today facing the Muslim Ummah, our dear nation, Nigeria, and the world at large. There are two topics of reflective and actionable importance that have been chosen. Professor AbdulHafiz Oladosu, an erudite scholar from the University of Ibadan, will be speaking on People-Oriented Governance and Collective Consciousness: Lessons from Turkey. Our amiable scholar and Imam, the Honourable Commissioner for Home Affairs in Lagos State, Hon. (Dr.) AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef, will be speaking on Muslims and the Challenges of Secularism: The Nigerian Experience. These lecturers are replete with vast experience and competence to speak on these issues. I have no doubt, Insha Allah, that our capable lecturers will give you a lot to ruminate and act on.

The challenge of creating peace, security and abundance has become a daunting task for leaders all over the world and especially in Africa and the Middle East. This is despite the fact of our Islamic history denoting periods of peace, tranquillity and abundance for all. We should not be disheartened but rather continue to strive and work hard in the hope and confidence that our efforts will be crowned with success by the Almighty as He has promised in His Glorious Book. “Allah has promised those of you who believe and do right actions that He will make them successors in the land as He made those before them successors, and will firmly establish for them their religion with which He is pleased and give them, in place of their fear, security. They worship Me, not associating anything with Me. Any who disbelieve after that, such people are deviators. (Qur’an, 24:55

Leadership has become a very critical factor in the life of every human being. It is a known fact that no group of people can enjoy a quality of life greater than the leadership capacity of its leaders. Everything rises and falls with leadership. Despite the abundant human and material resources with which Africa is blessed, life here is still being described as nasty, brutish and short. A culture of quality leadership needs to be established in Africa right from the primary school level and progressively advancing till it reaches the tertiary institutions. People in public service and the politicians must be deliberately trained in the exactitudes and thoroughness of leadership. This is so that they might enhance the quality of lives rather than destroy it.

We humbly recommend a 4-point agenda to the Federal Government to work on. This 4-point agenda includes constant and stable electricity; diversification of the economy for multiple sources of revenue which will include agriculture and its value chain, solid minerals and tourism; provision of water-tight security both day and night; and the enhancement of the anti-corruption war. Considerable advancement in these four areas should constitute the legacy that this administration bequeaths to the nation at the end of its tenure.

We commend the government for its efforts in combating the Boko-Haram menace and the release of 21 out of the missing Chibok girls. There is no room for laxity and the war against Boko-Haram must be more fiercely waged till it is totally defeated and all the Chibok girls are released and returned to the warm embrace of their loving parents. No efforts should be spared in making this possible.

The nation cannot afford a situation of alleged racketeering where a few judges have become commercial hawkers of justice to the highest bidder. We, therefore, support the coalition of over 50 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under the Forum of Non-Governmental Organisations in Nigeria (FONGON) that has given the National Judicial Council (NJC) a one-week ultimatum to suspend all the judges arrested by the Department of State Service (DSS) over allegations of corrupt practices pending the outcome of their trials in court. As has been the practice with NJC, it is not correct to just suspend judges without trying them. From now on, suspended judges must be tried in court.

We commend the INEC, the armed forces, all the political parties and the people who participated in the recently concluded governorship election in Edo State. It was fairly peaceful and orderly and it shows that Nigerians can be counted upon to stand up for what is good. We would love a more pleasant repeat of the good things when the governorship election in Ondo State takes place in November. We should also realise that our ultimate desire is to have election days that will not need the deployment of the army, where state borders will not be closed, where there will be no violence and any form of rigging, and where there will be no restriction whatsoever on freedom of movement. We believe this is achievable as we continue to build on our political experience and conduct of elections.

On the international scene, we call for the cessation of hostilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. The world should realise that these needless wars have gone on for far too long with the attendant consequences of maiming and loss of thousands of lives, destruction of properties and the pollution of the environment. The United Nations, the EU, the Arab League and the AU should come together to mitigate and find lasting solutions to these problems. The onslaught on ISIS by Russia, Iraq and Turkey must continue until this evil body is totally destroyed. A more global effort will be more effective in putting an end to the evil group. They have existed for too long and caused so much harm and damage in many countries.

As part of our efforts in contributing to societal development and improving the capacity of the youths for national development, we are pleased to say that the third edition of TMC’s National Essay Competition has just been concluded. The topic for the Essay Competition was The Need for a Paradigm Shift from a Mono-Product Economy to a Diversified Economy: The Prospects and Challenges. We received several entries from across the nation that were screened by a distinguished panel consisting of journalists and professionals. Prizes will be presented to the winners later at this august occasion.
Meanwhile, I implore you to listen to these lecturers with rapt attention so as to gain the maximum benefits from their rich and scholarly experience.

Imam Luqman Abdur-Raheem (PhD.)
Amir, The Muslim Congress (TMC)

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