As Lagos Muslims join their counterparts worldwide to observe the Ramadan fast, the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has called for vigilance among all Lagosians saying although government has put all structures in place to ensure safety of residents, they have every reason to be vigilant.
Governor Fashola, who spoke Sunday, 29th June, 2014 at the Onikan Stadium venue of the annual Ramadan Lecture of the state council of the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, urged Lagosians to be vigilant and security conscious pointing out that since they live in the territorial area called Nigeria, they should be concerned with whatever happens in the country.
“When the country does well, we do well; when it is challenged, it means that we are challenged because our brothers and sisters are challenged too. This is the season of eternal vigilance. We have put in all of the structures to be sure you have no cause to fear, but you have every reason to be vigilant”, the Governor said.
He further advised, “In the mosques and in the churches, I know that many of us have a traditional place we sit in the evenings and if you look around you see people who sit there with you every evening, every morning, every Sunday, every Friday’ when you see a strange face next to you, please ask questions, introduce yourself, greet that person and find out who that person is.
“I know that you also go to churches or other traditional places; some people sit in the middle traditionally, if you are looking for them, you know where to find them and they know who sits on their right and on their left. When we see strangers around us now, ask questions. If the stranger cannot hurt us, I am sure we cannot hurt ourselves”, he said.
The Governor also advised Muslims to eschew struggle for material things, especially at this period, saying the owner of all things, including humans, is the Almighty Allah. He cited an example with the incessant litigations over land and property pointing out that there would be no need for litigations if people stopped fighting over them.
Noting that some people have had cause to complain to him about the numerous litigations over land and properties, the Governor disclosed, “I told them we are the ones that cause it. If we do not fight over land, there would be no need to go to court and if we do not fight over properties which the owners have died there would be no need to fight over land.
“If we do not fight over money and business and we do not stab one another with knives, there would not be any criminal case. The lawyer will still have what to do for a living. He can be a company secretary, he can engage in business Sports law and numerous other Law practices that will make life to be meaningful”.
Emphasizing on the need to imbibe the Spirit of Ramadan, the Governor, who said a lot of people have also complained of delays in obtaining Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) declared, “None of such people has asked me about C of O for their burial ground”, adding, “While we are here, we owe ourselves all of the duties of organization, of cooperation and of understanding of the state.
“I do say it that when you fight over land, are you the real owner of such land or the land owns you? Meanwhile, when you now die, do you think over it that you are not the real owner of land because it is in that same portion of land that they will dig and bury you; so are you now the owner of that land or the land owns you?
Governor Fashola appealed to all Lagos residents to embrace the on-going residents registration exercise statewide saying the registration card, which according to him, is prepared with the taxpayers’ money, is an important asset that belongs to all the residents irrespective of tribe or ethnic nationality.
Listing some of the benefits of the registration card to residents, Governor Fashola declared, “At this period of heightened security challenges, it may become a life-saving document to have in your house, it may help us respond quicker and faster in terms of security crises and it is important for us as a people to know how many we are”.
The Governor told members of the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society, “I know that this society has a record of its members that is why you can reach them and you can contact them. If a society that is only a part of a larger state can keep a record of its members, don’t you think it is important for us as a state to have a record of its residents?
“It has nothing to do with indigeneship; it has nothing to do with where you were born: it is only a function of knowing that you reside here and we want to know you.
That is the only way we can plan ahead to make sure that everybody will get water, that is the only way we can understand how many people will; be in the bracket of getting married so that we can begin to plan for the expected children that will follow”.
Other benefits of the registration exercise to residents, the Governor said, include helping the businesses through the data that will be available in the public space in terms of how many live in any local government and so on who would require a particular product or the other.
“If you are selling special women’s fabrics, that data will help you know how many people in the local government in your own area of business are within the age that can wear that fabric, it will help us to keep a track record in terms of emergencies to be able to respond. God forbid, but accidents do happen; it will help us to identify who the accident victims are”, he said.
Reiterating that the registration centres are open in every local government in the state, Governor Fashola said the exercise would also help the State to compete with so many cities across the world adding, “Perhaps, we do not notice when we go on pilgrimages either to Saudi Arabia or Jerusalem, we would see that we that are not residents of those countries, when we are coming in, we show our passports while the residents pass another line and just use their cards to enter.
“But you know what happens here that when we come into our own country, we still show our passports. But with the Residents Registration Card, once a resident is coming into Lagos, that resident would know he is coming home and the card represents his identity to come home”.
He said government has resisted the temptation to give a time limit to the registration in other to avoid rush adding, “That is why we have left it open for over one year now. We want you to take your time and go and register at the nearest centre to you because it is important”. The Governor, however, said Government will begin to consider this option serious.
Congratulating all Muslims who are beneficiaries of this year’s Ramadan season, Governor Fashola declared, “We are beneficiaries of the grace of the Almighty Allah. You were here last year, you are here this year; may this not be the last Ramadan for all of us. May those of us who are fortunate, highly privileged, to start this month of grace, month of mercy, month of wonders, be privileged to see the end of the month”.
Earlier in his lecture with the theme “In the Spirit of Ramadan”, National Missioner of the Society, Sheik Abdur Rahman Ahmed, urged all Muslims to honour the Almighty Allah with gratitude adding that all Muslims in the country must rise during this month and cleanse themselves by praying for forgiveness.
“This Ramadan period is specifically to honour Allah. It is not to discipline or make us suffer. We should honour Allah with the attitude of gratitude”, he said listing some of what constitute the Spirit of Ramadan to include God’s favour, caution in daily actions, giving with cheerfulness, tolerance in all ramifications, endurance, patience and love for one another and for all humans.
Also speaking earlier, Chairman of the State Council of the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Alhaji Nurudeen Olalekan Okuleye, reviewed some of the achievements of the Society in the last one year expressing pleasure that the Lagos State Council has made “greater and progressive stride in her religious propagation and humanitarian dispensation”.
He listed such strides to include remarkable progress on the Summit University project in Offa, Kwara State, approval and certification of the Society’s ADSON Table Water by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and success in anchoring last year’s Hajj Operations among others.
In his welcome address, Chairman of the occasion, and President of the Society in Nigeria, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, urged members to work hard to continue to propagate the ideals of the society as bequeathed to them by the founding fathers adding that the society has provided the platform for members to produce major talents.
Alhaji Okunnu, who was represented by Alhaji Abdul Rafiu Ademola Sanni, urged the society to fund businesses that would be beneficial to the society and use the proceeds to propagate Islam advising that they should they should visit hospitals and prisons and also organize seminars during this period.