By Qasim Akinreti, Lagos.
In 1995, Conference of Muslim Organisations of Nigeria, (CAMON), came into being through the efforts of about 28 concerned Islamic organisations in Ibadan, Oyo state.
However in 1988, about 10 Muslim organisations now constitute the foundation members of CAMON. These are: Muslim Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria, Anwar-ul- Islam of Nigeria, Nasrudeen Society of Nigeria, Alasalatu Ibadu Rahman Ibadan, Islamic Missionary Society of Nigeria, Ahmadiyya Movement of Nigeria, Railway Muslim Community, Federation of Muslim Women Organisations of Nigeria, FOMWAN, Oyo state chapter and Anobi Lonigba Molete, Ibadan. By 2013, 10 more Muslim organisations signified intention to join CAMON.
In line with their commitments, the Islamic organisations pay dues to CAMON to run its finances.
One of the first challenge of the organisation, was to ensure that Nigerian Muslims have access to scholarship for higher degrees to the PhD level. This was quite instructive as some leading members of the organisation like late Professor Abdul Rafiu Sobulo- an Agriculturist; Late Professor Fatai Giwa- Physics; and the life patron of CAMON, Honourable Justice Bola Babalakin, CON, JSC, found it inexplicable that there are few Muslims academic in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
According to them, the state of the Muslim teaching staff in the University of Ibadan then was quite pitiable.
To address this challenge, the first set of five students at the Masters level from various Islamic organisations were urge to apply for a PhD Scholarship at the University of Ibadan.
Among this set, was Professor Abdul Rahman Abdullah, Department of Animal Science Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, Ogun state; he was presented by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Nigeria.
As one of the success story of the brilliant initiative of CAMON, the Professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics said “the offer of scholarship goes a long way to instil a sense of responsibility to the Muslim Ummah and Nigeria in general, though the money was small, we are given a commitment that we will remain in the academic to contribute to the growth of the Nigerian education, assist Islam to find solution to the dearth of Muslim academics.
A year after graduation, I did not get a job, but that covenant put me in good pedestal of getting a teaching job as late Professor Sobulo assured me that I will get a job. When I finally do, he said don’t be deceived by the toga of a PhD holder, you must work hard to a professorial position in record time. Then, I felt obliged to always get in touch with late professor Sobulo for inspiration and guidance”.
CAMON, did not only give the financial assistance, strict monitoring was given to the scholars’ on their academic progress. Again Professor Abdullah stated that, “the report of academic performance from the supervisors really put me on tract, as a commitment to be an academic, it was really fulfilling. Professor Nurudeen Olorunnibe Adedipe, pioneer Vice Chancellor of University of Agriculture Abeokuta, (UNAB), who interviewed me for the scholarship; late Professor Sobulo and Professor Giwa were tracking my progress. At each assessment, they made me to believe that as a Muslim scholar my contribution to humanity in this area of specialisation is immense”.
In 2013 , 14 PhD students from four universities were given scholarships by the Conference of Muslim Organisations of Nigeria, (CAMON). This brought to 77, the number of Muslim post graduate students offered scholarship by the organisation.
Going by the breakdown of the scholarship scheme, there are 10 post graduate students from University of Ibadan: Mrs. Oladejo Mutiat Titilope from History department; Salami Dele, Forest Resource Management; Mrs. Balogun Modinat, Chemistry; Braimah Jafar, Zoology; Odetokun Ismail, Veterinary Health; Osuolale Kazeem, Statistics; Isola Tajudeen, Verterinary; Odunsi Saheed, Industrial Sociology; Yusuf Wasiu, Agric Economics; and Adewusi Sefiu Olakunle, Physics.
Other students are: Mrs. Zainab Mahmood, Computer Science; Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; Mrs. Salaudeen Rasheedat, Human Resources Management from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye; and Qasim Akinreti, Media Studies from Babcock University.
The award given to Muslim students was done to assist young Nigerian Muslims aspiring to further their education to the pinnacle of their chosen career and ultimately enhanced man power development in all spheres of human endeavours.
According to the chairman of CAMON, Alhaji Abdul Razaq Adelabu, research conducted by the late Vice Chairman of CAMON, Professor Rauf Sobulo, showed that in three universities in the southwest – university of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University and University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, less than 5 per cent of total lecturers are Muslims. In a report, both late Professors Sobulo and Abdul Fatai Giwa submitted to CAMON, ” n University of Ibadan in the Faculty of Science, there is one Muslim lecturer in the Chemistry Department, one each in Physics, Agronomy and Agric.Biology.
But none in Animal Science. This pattern existed in the Faculty of Social Sciences. There are at least 15 to 20 lecturers in these departments. In the Faculty of Medicine, out of about 150 professors, only one is a Muslim. In Chemistry Department of more than 10 professors, none is a Muslim. The pattern is the same in the other two universities.”
Alhaji Abdul Razaq Adelabu while handing over the cheques called on wealthy Muslims to support the laudable project of the organisation. He quoted a Chinese proverb,”If you are planning for a year sew a rice, if you are planning for a decade plant trees, if you are planning for a life educate people”, to wrap up his clarion call on Muslim generally on the need to give education utmost priority.
Aside from the post graduate scholarship, another major concern of the group is how to address the problems facing Muslim youths. Accordingly, a committee comprising of Alhaji Alarape Busari, Honourable Justice Bola Babalakin, Alhaji M.B.Oki, Alhaji Abdur Razaq Adelabu and Alhaja M.O.Ashiru identified the need for higher education.
By the last count, over 77 Muslims have been given scholarship to study various discipline ranging from Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences.
The 1998 set of scholars include Abdur Rafiu Gbenga Sanni, University of Ibadan, Botany and Microbiology; Mondiu O. Durowoju, University of Ibadan, Mechanical Engineering.
Out of these numbers, 40 have bagged PhDs. In 2013 academic year, eight more Muslims were given scholarship including the writer of this piece, who is currently studying for a PhD in Media Studies at the Babcock University. To the glory of Allah, in 2014, one of recipient, Dr Muheeb Salaam is serving as a Technical Aid Corp staff in one of the African countries, under the Technical Aid Corps Scheme of the Federal Government.
Dr Basirat Dikko got a PhD from University of Lagos in Guidance and Counselling; and Dr Abdul Lateef Owoade, a lecturer in Common and Islamic Law, University of Ilorin had his PhD degree in Common and Islamic Law from the University of Ilorin.
The huge investment in human capital by CAMON, among Islamic organisations has made it a different species among litany of Islamic groups in Nigeria. Hence, the two decades of its celebration should be seen by all as a clarion call for more investment in capital development of Muslims in Nigeria. As part of efforts to make this unique success, CAMON has set aside Saturday 7th February, 2015 to launch a N20 million appeal fund. According to reliable source, the Oyo state government under the leadership of Governor Isaiq Ajimobi has promised to attend the occasion.
His attendance at the event despite his tight electioneering campaign for the 2015 election is quite instructive. Expected at the occasion to give overwhelming spiritual diet to all is the amiable and erudite Islamic preacher Sheik Muhideen Bello. The former Military Governor of Lagos State, Raji Rasaki will be chief launcher at the event.
As the celebration continues, every Muslims must ensure that he contributes his own quota to the growth of scholarship in Nigeria.
Qasim Akinreti, is a Phd student at Babcock University and Manager, News, Voice of Nigeria.