A faith-based charity organisation, Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation (ZSF) has disbursed over N148 million to more than 494 beneficiaries including 14 blind students.
At the 13th Zakat Distribution Ceremony (ZDC), organised by ZSF, which took place at Alausa Secretariat Mosque Hall, Ikeja, Lagos, it was all about testimony of unprecedented integrity and trust in ZSF as an organization for proper and accountable distribution of Zakat fund.
The Executive Director of ZSF, Prince Sulaiman Olagunju, revealed that empowerment took 42 per cent of the disbursement; Education – 10 per cent, Medical – 29 per cent, Welfare – 10 per cent and nine per cent for others.
Speaking to NewsmakersNG, some of those who benefited from items distributed such as tricycles, motorcycles, photocopier machines, pepper-grinding machines, sewing machines, deep freezers, stabilizers among others, including the 14 blind students of Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo, were full of praises to ZSF for touching their lives positively.
Academic and religious scholars also called for legislation to institutionalize payment of Zakat by wealthy Muslims as an effective tool to reduce poverty.
Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Prince Olagunju said that the foundation distributed cash and materials totalling N108.28 million to 494 beneficiaries in Lagos State alone and had distributed Zakat to beneficiaries in Delta, Ondo, Ado-Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe before that day.
Also speaking at the occasion, Lagos Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. AbdulHakeem Abdul-Lateef called on relevant organisations to sponsor bills in states and National Assemblies to institutionalize payment of Zakat, meant to help the needy, regardless of their religion.
He said, “Redistribution of wealth is what can save the economy; and we are not poor, it is just that we have refused to redistribute wealth.
“So, members of civil society organisations and citizens should call for the institutionalization of Zakat to help the poor. The whole essence is to complement government’s efforts because government cannot do it alone. There are so many wealthy Nigerians, who, if their Zakat is paid and properly-managed, will help a great deal in reducing poverty.”
Abdul-Lateef urged all beneficiaries to learn more about customers’ needs, marketing skills and creating a niche for themselves in their various areas of endeavours.
Chairman, University of Lagos Muslim Community, Prof. Lai Olurode, added that there was nothing wrong if government institutionalized Zakat.
He said, “It will then make it mandatory for wealthy Muslims to pay Zakat for the benefit of all. But, because of religious prejudices, this can be misinterpreted by some Nigerians. Even in Christian-dominated countries now, they are buying into Sukuk, Islamic banking, but in Nigeria, they make it appear as if it is an attempt to Islamise the country.
“Poverty does not draw a boundary in terms of religion, tribe or nationality. Poverty is poverty, whether you are a Muslim or a Christian. So, whatever anybody can do to move people away from poverty should be done regardless of the institution. It doesn’t really matter, where the money is coming from; whether it is from Christians, from Zakat or whatever source. What is important is that you want to touch humanity, you want to touch lives; you want to give hope to people.”
Some of the scholars at the event including; Prof. Olurode, Dr. Tajudeen Yusuf, Dr. Abdul-Lateef, Prince Olagunju and others, urged beneficiaries of the Zakat to make the best use of whatever they are given.
Prince Olagunju, said that as at October 2017, the foundation mobilized Zakat collection totalling N191, 104, 352. According to him, the figure showed an increase of N71, 907, 592 over Zakat collection of N119, 196, 760 last year. Giving an analysis of how the 2017 Zakat was distributed in Lagos, the director said N45.2 million was given out for economic empowerment purposes.
“Beneficiaries with health-related challenges were assisted with N31.06 million; education assistance to students gulped N11.17 million, while N11.49 million was spent on welfare support,” he said.