The Christian Association of Nigeria and critics of Sukuk, an Islamic bond in Nigeria should visit www.osunsukukprojects.com to find out if sukuk is a ploy to islamize Osun and Nigeria. The greatest lesson is that when Governor Aregbesola adopted Sukuk, an Islamic bond to help the state execute educational projects, his critics were calling for his head. Many said it was part of his ploy to islamize Osun. Not quite long, the government of United Kingdom also stated its resolve to obtain Islamic bond, Sukuk to execute government projects. With sukuk funds Osun built structural steel schools which are the first in Africa with 216 classrooms, 3 ICT halls, 18 laboratories and others that have the capacity to bear great loads in tension and compression, high resiliency and performance under harsh and difficult conditions. Osun steel high schools can be shaped by many processes, ranging from standard rolled sections to custom castings and digitally generated components. Osun steel high schools are wide, the buildings’ cladding highlight their durability, technical capabilities and aesthetic versatility. Osun State is the first to build steel structure schools in Africa that can accommodate more than 9,000 students.
Osun steel structure new high schools are part of the series of the state-of-the-art schools currently being constructed across the state. With Ilesa, Osogbo and Iwo steel structure sukuk high schools, Aregbesola’s government is committed to Osun schools a model in Nigeria, Africa and the entire world.
Another good thing is that Osun Steel High schools can be easily modified during the lifecycle of a building to accommodate changing occupant requirements. As the most recycled material in the world, steel is an environmentally sound building material choice. Today, structural steel is 97% recycled with the primary source being automobiles.
Architects praise the natural beauty of Osun steel schools and are excited about exposing them in the design of their structures to emphasise grace, slenderness and strength.
President Muhammadu Buhari last year described the newly completed steel structure Osogbo Government High school as an educational legacy that should be emulated by other states of the federation. Aregbesola has exposed Nigeria to the sukuk market which has drawn increasing interest from sovereigns, multilateral institutions, multinational and national corporations both from developed and emerging economies to finance investments in a wide range of economic activities and development projects. The geographical reach of the sukuk market has also become more extensive, with the global sukuk outstanding now being domiciled in more than 20 countries, while the investor base that spans from Asia, the Middle East and Europe. In Osun, the funds were used to finance construction of education projects, among other development initiatives with which Governor Aregbesola hopes to lay a solid foundation for the future of the state. Eleven High Schools with a total of 720 classrooms are at various stages of completion across the state. Two other High Schools are proposed for construction in Osogbo to accommodate the total population of high school students in Osogbo metropolis. There are 11 schools in all to be financed by the sukuk bond. The bond is exclusively for high school development. The High Schools are: Wole Soyinka High School, Ejigbo, Ataoja High School, Osogbo, Fakunle Unity High School, Osogbo, Oduduwa High School, Ile Ife, Ila High School, Ila-Orangun, Adventist High School, Ede, Iwo High School, Iwo, Akinorun High School, Ikirun and Ayedaade High School, Ikire.
There is clear indication of the growing relevance and importance of the sukuk market in Osun State, with the growing interest from both emerging and developed jurisdictions and the strategic approaches taken to diversify the funding sources through the sukuk market by Governor Rauf Aregbesola. The overall direction and potential of the global sukuk market are certainly well recognised, particularly in its role in contributing towards greater economic development of Osun State. There is significant potential for the sukuk, in particular to fund infrastructure projects. This is particularly relevant for the Osun State and African region given the infrastructure needs going forward. This would contribute towards building deeper and more liquid, efficient and effective global sukuk market.
The dynamism of the sukuk market also contributes towards strengthening financial stability and in facilitating the expansion of inter-regional investment flows. As we move towards increasing this internationalisation of Islamic finance, and thus towards greater global financial integration, it will contribute towards a global growth process and financial stability that will be mutually reinforcing. With this calibre of governments following suit to obtain Sukuk, it is now crystal clear that Aregbesola is not just a leader, but a leader that set positive pace globally.
The Christian Association of Nigeria has opposed the floating of the Sukuk Islamic bond by the Federal Government, alleging it is meant to Islamise the country through the back door. CAN, in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja by its General Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake, demanded the abrogation of the laws and framework behind the bond and threatened to seek legal redress if that was not done. The group said the FG was trying to sell the nation to Arab countries through the Sukuk Bond, arguing that the government was pursuing an Islamisation agenda.According to the Christian body, Nigeria is a secular state and the government is expected to be neutral on issues involving religion. It argued that the promotion of a sectional religious financial policy was a violation of the Constitution.
It said, “The Christian Association of Nigeria has been protesting against this aberration since the Osun State Government, under Governor Rafiu Aregbesola, embarked on this violation of the Constitution. “Rather than stand in the defence of the constitution, it is disappointing to note that the Federal Government is pursuing what is an outright confirmation of an Islamisation agenda.
“The recent floating of Sukkuk Bond by the government is not only sectional but illegal and a violation of the Constitution. Every law that has been promulgated to back the Sukuk issuance and promote an Islamic banking system in Nigeria is ultra vires, illegal, null and void.”
The organisation said there was never a time Nigeria held a referendum or convened a Constituent Assembly that passed a resolution that the nation had transmute into an Islamic State.“Therefore, the manipulations and scheming to smuggle the country into a full blown Islamic state should stop; these manipulations became apparent with the smuggling of Nigeria into the Organisation of Islamic Conference in 1986 by the Ibrahim Babangida military junta,” Asake said. The group added that the International Monetary Fund had stated that the issuance of Sukuk by non-Islamic countries was a breach of the religious neutrality of the government of such states.
The Christian Association of Nigeria should learn from Governor Aregbesola who began moves to introduce the Islamic bond, the product attracted so much anger in the Christian fold to the extent that the achievements of Governor Aregbesola made in Osun State almost fizzled out. Some of his critics reasoned that Nigeria is a secular state and so the introduction of Islamic bond smacks of Islamising the state. They believe that the introduction of the sukuk bond was not appropriate in view of the destructive activities of Boko Haram. To this effect, Nigerians, who lost relations or were injured, maimed or frustrated by the unscrupulous behaviour of Boko Haram, form the bulk of critics of Islamic bond. Some prominent Christian leaders said it will further inflame religious violence. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) also condemned the introduction of Islamic bond because to them it was a ploy to introduce Islamism into Osun State. But I advise all critics to visit www.osunsukukprojects.com
Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City [email protected]