It is with utmost gratitude to Allah (SWT) that I stand before you to welcome you most warmly to the historic city of Sokoto. I would like to extend a special welcome to His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR, the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Mr. President, we thank you immensely for finding time, despite the exigencies of State, to grace this occasion. The people of Sokoto take special pride in Education and the advancement of learning. Your Excellency has made us more proud by launching the first Model Almajiri School here in Sokoto.
May I also avail myself of this opportunity to welcome executive governors or their representatives, Honorable ministers, members of the National Assembly, Your Royal Highnesses, and other distinguished guests, who have come from far and wide to witness this occasion. Please accept our sincere welcome.
Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highnesses, may I begin by stating that Islam and Islamic Civilisation and Society, had been predicated on knowledge and learning. The search for knowledge is an unabridged obligation upon every Muslim, male and female.
Since the eleventh century, when Islam gained an institutional foothold in Nigeria, the establishment of schools and the promotion of scholarship had been an integral part of its growth and development.
These schools produced not only the scholars who mediated the religious and social activities of our societies but also the literati and the technocracies that supported state institutions and the management of state affairs.
For many of our societies, the development of education also served a strategic societal goal: the support and promotion of responsible leadership and good governance.
Distinguished Guests, the school Mr. President is commissioning today has firm and secure roots in the intellectual culture and traditions of our society.
We welcome it wholeheartedly. It is therefore our ardent hope and fervent prayer that Allah (SWT), in His infinite mercy, would bless this noble effort and grant it the wherewithal to serve the educational needs of its host communities.
We must also state that the bold vision, the indomitable courage and the culture of excellence with which the Model Almajiri Schools Project had been conceived and executed, give us great hope that we may have begun the arduous task of rejuvenating our educational system and of providing succor and relief to the teeming millions who had been left out of the conventional school system.
We cannot, as a nation, afford to allow the emergence of separate and unequal societies and the adverse social consequences associated with it. We must endeavor to provide fair opportunities to each and every child. We must strive to equip our school age population, adequately and conscientiously, to lead productive lives and contribute their rightful quota to national development.
Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highnesses, we must also remind ourselves of the enormity of the challenges posed by the Almajirci Phenomenon. These challenges are real and daunting, but the longer we tarry the more complex they become.
The truth is that no single stakeholder can adequately address these challenges. It is therefore imperative for all of us to act together and work together, seriously and meaningfully, to begin to face up to these enormous challenges.
We must begin by calling upon parents to appreciate the fact that Education, both Islamic and conventional, is the greatest gift we could bequeath our progeny. We therefore bear special responsibility to ensure that our children take full advantage of this precious gift. We can ill-afford to abandon this responsibility to itinerant Mallams or to the vagaries of the street.
Above all, this is a specific responsibility for which we must render a full account to Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgment. For Government, at all levels, we must counsel cooperation, determination and understanding as well as the firm expression of political will. We need to sustain the model institutions that we are now building.
We need to build many more schools. We should not forget that in several states there are more pupils in the traditional Almajiri education sector than those attending conventional schools. We should also not forget the high population growth that we have to contend with. We must ensure that we plan appropriately for the upcoming generations and endow them with better educational opportunities than their predecessors.
Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highnesses, it is also important to mobilise our communities to play an effective role in this strategic endeavor. Education is a collective enterprise. It can succeed only when it is pursued collectively. We must revive the passion for Education among our people and for the support of educational projects.
We must encourage self-help and facilitate the establishment and sustenance of community schools. We must, above all, restore the culture of Waqf [endowment], to support educational and religious institutions.
The launching of the Almajiri Education Trust Fund, especially at the state level, should be pursued with all vigor as a bold expression of community action in the development of Education in our society.
Mr. President, please accept our deep appreciation for this laudable project to support the education of Almajirai in Nigeria.
We thank you immensely for the great honor done to us. We pray to Allah (SWT) to help us realise the lofty goals for which this veritable institution was established.
I thank you for listening.
Being remarks by His Eminence Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, Sultan of Sokoto, President-General Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs at the opening ceremony of the Model Almajiri School, Sokoto, on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.