Asalam alaykum warahmatulah wabaaraka tuh
I humbly seek your indulgence to permit me to stand on the established protocol
I’m delighted to commence this short remark by welcoming every participant, local and international, for electing to invest precious time and attention to be part this great gathering for the sake of Islam and the future of the world.
My remarks would be short for the reason best known to all. It’s the peak of the season for the national assignment I handle currently for the nation’s treasured ones, who ironically constitute the envy of others. If you marvel at the word envy, you’d get to appreciate this in due course.
I’m particularly mindful of the imaginative instinct of those who conceptualized the theme of this Conference-the Hidden Treasure. My excitement at the theme derives from the specificity of the focus.
In the communication sent to me, the organizers clearly state that they “ recognise that the goal of every youth is to attain a higher level…that everyone is created with special innate talent and abilities, and every process in this world is an opportunity. The earlier you are able to discover yourself, realize the opportunities around you and make informed decisions, the more it gets you closer to the hidden treasures…” Finally they add: “we believe in your capacity to guide the youth in the right direction…”
My very dear brothers and sisters in Islam, moulding the lives of young men and women, helping them seek out hidden treasure,is the only enterprise I have undertaken on full time basis for almost four decades as a university based academic. Indeed for those of us in religious studies, teaching morality is almost indispensable. In other words, engaging with students and other young ones on moral and allied issues is neither casual nor intermittent. Rather, it is programmed such as we are here purposively scheduled for today.
The ultimate vision of such design as we discuss here is to achieve a better life not only for those being inspired but for the generality of the community they belong so that life can be more rewarding than they all ever experienced.
Contextualising Hidden Treasure
From Religious Studies through Law to Journalism, the concept of hidden treasure is about invaluability. Alhamdulilah, today is another beautiful day, indeed the greatest of all the days of the week. As muslims, our schedule for this day often differs from those of others so we could access the hidden treasures of Jumahas we have all been made to grow with through learning. What about the unknown hour when acceptance of prayers is unfettered, as an example? How about the many lessons in the special Surah of the day recommended for us all to read, SuratulKahf? Indeed, in this surah are hidden treasures in form of stories not for sheer entertainment but loaded with invaluable didactic dimensions. My dear brothers and sisters, I enjoin you to recall one of them which tells us about how some treasures had been left behind by some deceased persons which needed to be protected or hidden for the rightful inheritors to discover in future. It will as well not be out place to recall here in passing,the hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammed, SAW, on the need to be protective or hide our valuables. The Prophet, SAW, it was said had to caution some person on an occasion to ensure that he tethered his horse to avoid straying away or getting missing even as there was no visible threat in that locality then that the horse could be stolen. Today, victimology experts, seemed to have perfected this counseling arguing that it is better to avoid leaving our valuables where they could tempt thieves so they would not be perceived as having been tempted. This controverts the one-sided sentiment in some cultures which insists that in all respects, the thief deserves all the blame. But Islam wants us to ‘help’ thieving tendency too by minimizing tempting situations. This logic applies so appropriately to our female folks here. Shall we not for the umpteenth time enjoin them to shy away from the trending slaying phenomenon of their counterparts in other faiths who do not know or who choose to ignore the right thing to do? Finally, in journalism that most valued strand, investigative journalism, is all about uncovering or revealing valuable incidents or issues some persons or groups otherwise will forever wish remain hidden from the general public. It is about the invaluability, the fact that they are treasures which if and when they are known may make the society fare better.
I have to therefore, at this point, assert that the process of guiding the young ones to discover their hidden treasures is indispensable for all. It is also not a one-off thing. The parents and guardians must do well to cultivate their children and wards early in life by consciously inspiring them. The teachers, of course, go on to build on the efforts of parents and guardians. The children too, once attaining the ages of a number of us here today must consciously deepen what had been cultivated in us by parents, guardians and the teachers.
Needless Western Pessimism
Once again, allow me to reiterate my delight in this my encounter with you my dear brothers and sisters as the hope of the future in sha Allah. Shall we all say aamin? I reinforce your chorus by saying aamin thuma aamin. But we have so much work to do to avert the realization of prophecy of doom by some western scholars. Those of you in Sociology and Anthropology and possibly Political Science will be too familiar with the youth bulge theory sadistically directed at Africa. The theory asserts that societies with the youth constituting the bulk of its population are prone to violence and you can guess what may follow from that. May tragedy not always be our portion in the ummah.
According to the proponents of that theory, the likelihood of the manifestation of this unpleasant consequence of susceptibility to violence festers more when opportunities for the young ones are grossly inadequate. You will agree with me that Africa has been identified as being home to the youngest population in the world. Incidentally, the continent does not have much to offer this youthful population. The prophets of doom have therefore always predicted doom for the constituent countries especially during elections. Nigeria, you would recall, was not to survive the 2015 general election in their projection. Happily we did. It is a different issue entirely if all our leaders have been reasonably thankful to Allah enough on this with their efforts which are supposed to smack of sincerity and best wishes for our dear country.
For our brothers coming from the United Kingdom, you should all be familiar with that ubiquitous pamphlet, Letter from Hassan Albana. It is a strongly worded communication to international students to avoid falling victim of western excesses so his or her future and that of his community will not be summarily aborted. Albanna’s counsel, of course, derives fromthe Qura’an and Hadith, our ageless scriptural assets. Even if the present is not the best we had envisioned, muslims are not supposed to despair. For us, efficacy of prayers is not in doubt as we hold on to our belief that Almighty Allah is always the most beneficient and the most merciful.
Our Contemporary Dispensation
Since assuming the position of the registrar and chief executive of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, I’ve been tasked to engage more with the entire country in relation to, expectedly, admissions into all duly accredited tertiary institutions in Nigeria. My dear brothers and sisters, the experience here has been a most convincing manifestation of the recurrent advice that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. We landed here when the transition of the conduct of the main examination was transiting from paper to computer based test.
Incidentally, as the vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin, we had led the introduction of CBT which even JAMB had come to understudy. Alhamdulilah, with our shoestring budget at Ilorin, we managed to pull through to Allah’s glory.
The just concluded examination this year is the third annual Universal Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, we have had to conduct. Again, we want to thank Allah for each of the examinations. We have had to learn from the experience of previous year same way the Ilorin experience had come in handy at the commencement of the journey here at JAMB. Today, our capacity at JAMB, is such that cheating is hardly possible again during our examinations. If the media now report more about arrests made, the examination cheats had probably always managed to beat the system in the past. Not again, with all the sophisticated technological enhancement we have acquired.
Brothers and sisters, all forms of experience, good or bad, must be duly perceived as divine opportunity to learn to make the future better. Such experience encompasses academic, professional, casual and even the religious ones such as you have come to savour. Certainly, they will all complement one another.
The organizers of this NASFAT Youth Conference which is in its fourteenth year cannot claim to be ignorant of the enviable pioneering and most inspiring impact of the 65 year old Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, MSSN. May Almighty Allah, the most beneficent and the most merciful bless the souls of all the dead founding fathers. May He also continue to bless the lives of all those who have contributed to its survival till date.
It is therefore incumbent on the organizers of this conference to be sincere in all they do to achieve best results. I equally wish to enjoin all participants to take maximum advantage of this opportunity, the least perhaps being social networking. Remember too that this age of computer is one of limitless possibilities. With the added value of networking here, novel grounds could be broken either individually or collaboratively and even locally and internationally, this conference being an international one. The beauty of being willing to be supportive of a fellow muslim is that it earns you Allah’s favour and impliedly, additional fortunes such as you may or may not be able to estimate.
An Insightful Retrospection
Media reports and even research findings are awash with the reports of unfounded sense of entitlement of the millennials. They tend to rely too much on parents and others for support even as they want to oversubscribe to gadgets. For us in the ummah, we must make conscious efforts to purge ourselves of this. We must do well to strive to achieve our desires even as, like we suggested earlier, we support our efforts with persistent prayers
Be it known to all of us that it may amount to cheap blackmail to expect that some other persons should do for us what, ordinarily, we should be able to accomplish independently especially as those we look up to may have gone through similar experience unaided.
As the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin some 12 years ago, I had charged a set of matriculating students to appreciate the need for them to be time conscious and persistent in all their undertakings so they could get properly focused and get well positioned to actualise their lofty ambitions. Remember the scriptural admonition too on the fact that time is so precious that we shall all be made to account for it ultimately. It is our sincere prayer that we end up with good account to render.
Once again, I thank you for this opportunity to be with you at this memorable programme
Professor Is-haq Oloyede, Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) delivered this lecture the 14th NASFAT Youth Conference in Abuja