As part of efforts to assist the government in alleviating poverty and improving health and wellbeing of vulnerable Nigerians, the Developing-8 Health and Social Protection (D-8 HSP) has launched the Umma Zakat Fund, an Islamic philanthropy mechanism for pooling Zakat.
As one of the five pillars of Islam, Zakat is a religious obligation for all muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth. It is also the right of the poor to find relief from the rich since it is a mandatory charitable contribution.
The global director, D-8 HSP, Dr Ado Muhammad, who spoke during the launch of the project in Abuja, said the fund is aimed at taking people out of poverty by growing wealth and improving livelihoods.
The idea, according to Ado, is to complete government’s traditional funding for health and social protection interventions by pooling Charity donations and systematically directing them to w. they will have the greatest impact.
“The fund is to foster equal opportunity, improve health and social protection for the people,” he said.
He said “President Buhari severally have said that they want to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years, which average about 10 million Nigerians. So this programme is aimed at taking six million Nigerians out of poverty annually.
“So the 10 million that Mr. President wants to take out of poverty, we support that laudable initiative with this programme, but it is six million out of poverty using Islamic instruments.”
Mohammed said for the first year, the organisation hopes to mobilise about N20 billion and when it comes fully operational, not less than N200 billion.
He said through the fund, “Eligible beneficiaries would be able to access daily, weekly stipends for meal, shelter and WASH, while a portion of the fund would provide health insurance and reduce the burden of out-of-pocket spending for healthcare. The third component will save a part of the money for the beneficiary and be given to them when they have learned a skill or trade to be able to start-up their own business.”
The national programme coordinator, National Cash Transfer Office, Hajia Halima Shehu, said the Umma zakat programme will improve the plight of the less privileged in society while pledging her organisation’s full involvement in the follow-up of fundraising and disbursement.
“We will ensure that the fund is utilised for the transformation of citizens’ lives. The administrators will ensure that the fund gets to the less privileged in the society. The program will be in all the 36 States of the Federation”, she assured.
The representative of Keystone bank, Mr Suleman Mohammed, said the Zakat program is a welcome development that will alleviate the suffering of average Nigerians, adding that “the project will go a long way in improving the welfare of people generally and eradicate poverty.p
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