Weekly Trust

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1433AH: New year, new beginning

Today Saturday November 26, 2011 is New Year in the Muslim world; being the first day of the first month (Muharram) of the Islamic year 1433AH. We have every cause to be grateful to Allah (SWT) regardless of the socio-economic predicaments bedeviling us as a nation. The most important thing is that we are alive. Whether it is success or failure, only the living celebrates! Some of those who witnessed the beginning of the previous year (1432AH) did not live to see the close of it. Hence, it is a privilege that we are alive. We must therefore consider the privilege as a respite for us to repent from our sins and seek Allah’s guidance in all matter.

So many things, some good and others painful to remember, happened in the past 365 days. Some of Allah’s favors which we enjoyed in the year under review include un-interrupted rains. Good health which is enormous wealth that many of us enjoy without appreciating its value is enough for us to give gratitude to our creator because there are people who spent the greater part of 1432AH on sick bed; probably at different hospitals. There are several other reasons for which we must give glory to Allah (SWT). However, most people naturally find it easier to recall sad moments; pushing the remembrance of the favours bestowed upon us by Allah (SWT) to the sub-conscious. Our ability to recount Allah’s blessings lays the foundation for accessing greater favours. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 14:7 “… if ye are grateful, I will indeed add more (favours) unto you…”

Unpleasant events of 1432AH include the post-election violence in many northern states of the federation; incessant massacre of human lives in Jos, Plateau State; high incidence of rape; increased spate of acid attacks; flood disasters in parts of the country; and the most recent which is the award of national honours to some very undeserving recipients. Our obvious “carry-overs” in to the new year, which wicked leaders have imposed on us as a nation include poverty; unemployment; hypocritical fight against corruption; white papers for the Lemu Panel and Galtimari Committee reports; and general insecurity of lives and property.

As the Islamic year begins, it is important for us to get acquainted, as Muslims, with monetary Zakat worked out in accordance with the current value of the naira. According to figures published recently, the minimum taxable amount (Nisab) upon which 2.5% is payable as Zakat for the year 1433AH is put at N620,942.00 only, which should be the current value of 20 pieces of gold (dinar). Minimum dowry (Sadaq) payable in 1433AH before a marriage can be contracted as well as the least theft of property that can attract amputation of a hand stands at N 7,762.00 only which is the value of money that can buy a quarter of a dinar. Compensation for manslaughter which should be the value of one thousand pieces of gold is given as N31, 047,099.00 only for 1433AH as against N22, 982,428.00 only for 1432AH.

The Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) recommends for believers to observe voluntary fast on the 9th (Tasu’a) and 10th (Ashura) of this first month of the Islamic year. For this year (1433AH); the 9th and 10th of Muharram would respectively be equivalent to Sunday December 4, 2011 and Monday November 5, 2011. We shall next week on this page remind readers again about this voluntary fast.

We pray that this New Year, 1433AH, would be a new beginning in the moral and spiritual life of all Nigerians. Let us promise to live a decent life, in public and in private; so that Nigeria would once again be a place where equity, justice and fairness is believed in and practiced by all.

O Allah! Give us good in this world and deny us the torment of hell fire, amin. This column wishes all a happy and prosperous New Islamic year! Kullu Aamin Wa Antum Bi Khairin!!

Carnival versus education in the FCT:

In the Weekly Trust edition of Saturday November 27 2010, this column published a piece titled “Education as an affiliate of carnival in the FCT”. In the article, we lamented the annual closure of some schools with boarding facilities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the purpose of providing accommodation for participants in the Abuja Carnival. In the December 5 2009 edition of the same paper (Weekly Trust), this column again published another piece titled “Aleiro’s own Boko Haram” in which we decried the unwise decision to close down some schools in the FCT for the sake of an annual cultural event called “Abuja carnival”.

It is sad that the attempt by this column in the last two years to educate government as well as educational administrators on the adverse effects of unwarranted closure of schools in order to host a cultural festival in the FCT has not been anything better than futility. This is in a country which education system is on the verge of ruin, if it has not already collapsed; as believed by many. For those who are not aware, students of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) Pyakasa and other selected schools in the FCT are currently at home while others are in school.

We are surprised that in spite of the reactions in the previous years from parents and those who are generally passionate about education, the FCT Minister has continued to allow education to be turned, within the territory, in to an affiliate of carnival! We find it difficult to search out reasons why the Abuja Carnival, in order to hold, must dislodge students from schools and also disrupt their learning. The repeat of this action every year strongly suggests that authorities in the FCT administration do not have their children in these public schools, and therefore, find it effortless to give inexcusable approvals that permit organizers of the Carnival to displace students and pupils from their schools. The excuse by defenders of the inapt action that the affected students would later receive extra-lessons is not only unprofessional but also not credible in the least.

The affected schools which vacated on November 18 2011 are due to re-open, after two weeks of closure, on December 1 2011 when the carnival would have ended. Even a week loss of teaching and learning at this level of education could impact negatively on the examination results of the affected schools. When very low success rate is thereafter recorded in WAEC and NECO examinations as it has been the case in recent years, the blame would be shifted to teachers, school administrators or examination bodies. Frequent closure of schools, besides, puts the lives of students (and by extension those of their parents) at risk when they have to often travel to and fro their homes. These schools would again be due to vacate for Christmas holiday after spending two weeks in school.

It beats our imagination that authorities fail to look outside boarding schools when it comes to providing ready-made accommodation for contingents of Abuja Carnival. We expect educational managers to be bold enough to reject any request that involves sending students home when they should be in school. Organizers of Abuja Carnival should look for sponsors to provide hotel accommodation for their guests. After all, what stops them from lodging the participants at the National Stadium, Parade Ground or even the Eagle Square, where no learning would be interrupted?

We call on the FCT Minister and indeed educational administrators in the territory to always examine the corollaries of their actions before embarking on them. No adventure can be more fundamental than education or knowledge. May Allah (SWT) guide our leaders against taking decisions that would ruin the educational potentials of Nigerian children and youths, amin.

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