TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE FOR PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE CREATION 8TH BAUCHI MUSLIM COALITION ON COVID-19

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In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. May His Peace and Blessings be upon His Beloved Prophet, Muhammad (s.a.w.).

Gentlemen of the Press,

Assalamu alaikum wa-Rahmullah,

You are all aware of the situation the World is going through regarding the corona virus global pandemic. Something that started in just one city in China has now engulfed the entire World with hardly any country spared. Nigeria is no exception. Just about four weeks ago we were talking of only one or two cases in Lagos and later about the same number in Abuja. As at today , the number of confirmed cases is well over one hundred and as it were, it is gradually spreading to various states of the Federation and sonfar we have had just a few confirmed cases in our dear State, Bauchi State of Nigeria. We pray unto Allah to grant quick recovery to our Governor , His Excellency, Senator Bala AbdulKadir Muhammad and all those that have so far been infected . May Allah further continue to protect all those of us that so far in shape Allah not affected.

Because of the viciousness of the virus and the ease, the rate, the magnitude as well as the speed with which it gets transmitted amongst people governments in almost all affected countries in the World have taken very drastic measures at curtailing the spread of the disease in their countries. Because of the certainty regarding the fact that he virus gets transmitted easily and vastly during gatherings of people of whatever sort, the most prominent measures that have so far been taken by governments are the social distancing measures , the extreme level of which is the total lock down of towns, cities and the entire countries. As a proactive measure to forestall the spread of the disease in Nigeria several lock down measures have been taken by both the Federal and State governments . Here Bauchi State, we have had our schools all shut down a couple of weeks ago. And now we have arrived at a point at which the State Government has deemed it urgent, and rightly so, to impose a total lock down except for Wednesdays and Saturdays. We wish to express our support and loyalty to the Government on carrying out these measures which we believe is in good faith and in the interest of the good people of Bauchi State. May Allah see us through th this very trying and difficult moment in His Infinite Mercy.

While expressing our support for the action taken by the State Government , it is however, necessary to juxtapose it against the socioeconomic realities of our society, or our people. Many people are living from hand to mouth. There is very excruciating poverty and it would not be a gainsaying that the majority of our people manage to get what to eat in their houses on a daily basis. Even then, most families today do not afford the three square mills. It is very obvious therefore, that in a situation like this, many families may be thrown into very agonising difficulties, especially with regards to food and other essential commodities. While the State Government was reasonable enough to traciously offer Wednesdays and Saturdays for people to purchase their basic and essential needs for the days of the lock down, it shouldn’t be forgotten that for some, they can barely afford to buy only what would feed the family for only that very Wednesday or Saturday. Yet for others, on that very Wednesday or Saturday they may not even have the money to buy anything and with lock down, they can not go out to work and earn something the next day. It is certainly going to be a very difficult situation.

It was against the backdrop of these realities that some of us, Muslim Da’awah Workers, Islamic Preachers, Islamic Scholars and organizations, really thought on the need to urgently come together to create a platform for sourcing, generating, coordinating and delivering help to the poor, the needy , the weak and the destituted. These are categories of people that constitute the majority of our society and who will undoubtedly be thrown into unprecedented penury and suffering , and it is imperative to create both a platform and a mechanism or yet a machinery for helping them.. This is what informed the quick conception and formation of this forum which we call BAUCHI MUSLIM COALITION ON COVID-19.

The inspiration as well as the injunction to come together and create this coalition is verse 2 Sura to Ma’idah where Allah says, “……and help you one another on righteousness and piety and do not support one another on sin and transgression. ..”. The fundamental and cardinal objective of this Coalition therefore, is to explore ways and means of sourcing, generating and delivering foodstuffs and essential commodities from rich people or those that can afford to give, and distribute it to those in need in the community, in our neighbourhoods , in order to alleviate the suffring that may be created by this lock down. It is our belief that there are very good, kind and generous people in our society that will be very much willing to offer help, but sometimes, the absence of a credible, well organised, dependable and reliable outfits or machineries through which they would offer those helps they either get discouraged or offer just a little of what they would rather appropriately and 8r more adequately.

Let no mistake be made, this is not a policy organisation, nor yet a pressure group in the political or unionist or civil society sense of the word. It is purely a humanitarian coalition that felt obliged to stand up and offer help at the most critical and most trying time of our survival as a community. Allah says in the Qur’an, chapter 4, verse 144, “There is nothing Google in their meetings (consultations) unless those that enjoin charity, good deeds and or reconciliation amongst people, Whoever does that seeking the pleasure of Allah shall be granted great reward”.

We have, therefore, only come out to compliment the efforts of government at this critical time. Gentlemen of the Press, the fear of this monster virus is real, the uncertainties occasioned by the pandemic are uncountable just as they are unpredictable, the socioeconomic challenges are enormous and monumental. Government alone cannot handle the situation effectively, adequately and satisfactorily. Government heeds to be helped. It needs to be supported. There is need for community action in addition to state or governmental action. It is all in our own interest. It is all for our survival. It is all ultimately for the sake of Allah.

To work in the path of charity, to render help, to give food to the hungry , to support the weak , to nurse the sick, etc.are all cardinal in the teachings of Islam. This is even more essential in moments 8r difficulty. Allah says in the Qur’an, Chapter 90 , verses 11 – 18., “But he did not venture to scale the difficult steep, And what do you know what that difficult steep is? ,!It is feeing someone’s neck from slavery, Or giving food on a day of hunger, To an orphan near of kin, Or to a destitute lying in dust, And then besides this, he gets one of those who believed, and enjoined upon one another steadfastness and enjoined upon one another compassion”.

Gentlemen of the Press, here we are forming a Coalition in the face of lock down . There may come up the question on how to operate and carry out what we intend to to do? It is certainly going to be difficult. However, we will heavily upon the Information and communication technology. We will leverage on the opportunities offered by the social media and even the traditional media for the purposes of sensitization and mobilization and then on Wednesdays or Saturdays for face-to-face meetings and distinctions of materials collected. We will designate locations where donations, or charities will be taken to for collection. We will seek for approvals for necessary movements where necessary from the State Task Force where necessary.

We have only briefly describe how we intend to carry out our work but the minute details will only be dictated by the realities that we will meet in the field or on ground. In addition to this, we wish to use this medium to advocate one important thing to our Muslim Ummah. We hereby advise that let their be some forms of similar platforms or groups at ward levels through our Five Daily Prayer Mosques. Let the Mosque Committees rise up to the challenge and demonstrate more moral and social relevance to our neighbourhoods. These mosques are at the grassroots level. They are closer to the people. They know those in needs. Let us please use the mechanism of ZAKATUL FITR where food is collected at neighbourhood mosques and be distributed to the poor and needy people around. May Allah guide us with His Divine Taufeeq.

Finally, we wish to emphasise to the government that we have come out to compliment it’s efforts in this regard. We would like the government to accept our initiative in that sense and in good faith. We are in a difficult situation. It is no time for politics. It is not time for trivialities. It is no time for bickerings and blamegame. It is time for action. It is therefore in this spirit that we wish to advise the State Government to really package some relief materials and arrange humanitarian measures that will ease people difficulties otherwise the lock down will not work and it may be counter productive. VERY IMPORTANTLY Government should find ways of IMPROVING THE SUPPLY OF WATER WITHIN BAUCHI METROPOLIS. THIS IS VERY CRITICAL. IT WILL BE TRAGIC TO EMBARK on this lock down with the current shortage in water supply. With the fewr of corona virus, hunger, and no adequate water supply it is going to be a triple jeopardy. May Allah help the government overcome this particular challenge and all other challenges of the moment and beyond.

May Allah purify our intentions, make good our deeds, and support and guide our actions. May He see us through this trying moment. May He not try us with what will will not he able to bear individually and collectively.

And our final pronouncement is ALHAMDULILLAHI RABBIL AALAMEEN.

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