MSSN at 60: The journey so far

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Islam-page-pixThe Muslim students’ society of Nigeria MSSN which is the apex body representing the interest of Muslims studying in all formal and non-formal education settings in Nigeria was founded on 18th April 1954 in response to the yearning of Muslim Students for a platform to discuss and find solutions to their common problems and challenges especially in the face of hostile colonial and evangelical environment then prevalent in the country. Permit me to say that MSSN has since metamorphosed from being a society into an ideology which has influenced the course of events in the most populous black nation. It has since grown in leaps and bounds to be the largest organization (religious or otherwise) not only in Nigeria but in Africa with millions as active members while some other millions are its sympathizers.

The contributions of MSSN to National development are enormous and these include serving as a potent tool of national unity and cohesion. Apart from all its members that cut across geographical and ethnic barriers, MSSN is promoting national integration and building bridges through its programmes and activities that emphasizes the values and brotherhood of Islam in particular and unity of mankind in general. The programmes of this great society are geared towards giving a proper orientation to the future leaders as we believe that morality, right attitude and dignity of labor are sin qua non to national development. The society has continued to produce generations of outstanding leaders that have contributed immensely to our national life. The society has remained a pressure group working for not only bringing the Muslims in closer union and inculcating in them true Islamic spirit and faith in Allah, but also promoting and defending the general welfare of the Muslims as well as defending their fundamental human rights in any community.
At the grand finale of the diamond jubilee celebration of MSSN with the theme: “MSSN: impacts, problems and prospects” held at the main auditorium of the national women development center FCT, Abuja, on 24th May, 2014. The 34th National President of MSSN Mal. Mallam Abdulazeez Sirajudeen Folayemi was almost on tiers when he was counting on various encountering of the Society and I qouat:  “The 60th anniversary had taken us to the nooks and crannies of the federation. We have seen and have first-hand information about the plight of Islam and the Muslims in this Nation.

The summary of our experience during the sojourn shows that the Muslims are drowning in this country and there is the urgent need to send out a rescue mission in order to salvage them from total annihilation. From the brutalization and dehumanization of the Muslim children in the south, to the slaughtering, abduction and traumatization of Muslims and their children in the north. The Muslims in the south-east and south-south have for long been marginalized, subjugated and traumatized by the Christian governments and public administrators. These two zones have been fully Christianized to the level that Muslims are ostracized from the rest of the community. Muslim Students in the various institutions of learning across south -south and south- east geo-political zones are denied right to religious practice and profession in their various institutions of learning.  In some higher institutions, places designated for mosques in the schools’ master plans have been allocated to churches. Summarily our sojourn have made it clear to us that, Muslims have become victims of a dangerous political drama the script of which is written by some power block in order to ensure their political dominance in this country. Muslims are seen as murderers and terrorists while they are been slaughtered on minutes bases in the name of Boko haram and a fight against terrorism.

The Sultan of Sokoto and President of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, use the occasion to  queried the over N130 billion spent on the nation’s security agencies by the Federal Government in four months.
The eminent traditional ruler also warning the Federal Government against allowing foreign troops to occupy the country in the guise of coming to assist in rescuing the abducted Chibok Schoolgirls and combat the rising wave of Boko Haram insurgency.
The Sultan, who retired as a Brigadier General in the Army before he became the 20th Sultan in November 2006, made the comments in the wake of recent mutiny by some soldiers in Maiduguri, Borno State, the hotbed of Boko Haram insurgency and where the Chibok abduction took place. This in turn has led to worldwide condemnation of government handling of the crisis and accusation that the military are ill-equipped to contain the insurgents despite the huge amount allocated for security. The Sultan insisted that assistance from international community should be restricted to equipment, technical, logistics and training.

“How do we fight corruption and extremism in our country as Muslim youths as these are the two monsters bedeviling development in the country: corruption breeds insecurity? If you have been reading the papers recently, the Minister of Finance recently said over N130 billion was given to security agencies in four months. Now where is the money? These are the question we should be asking ourselves. How do we help? And we need to help. I spent most of my life in the military and I know the problems of the military. We must help them to protect the country and tackle terrorism.
“For some time people have been saying no dialogue with terrorists and I asked why? There is nowhere in the world where force brought peace to any country in the world. I have been round the world and have seen it. They offer to help us. Yes, we want help, but don’t bring your troops and settle in our country. You can help us by equipment, technical knowledge of what we don’t know and allow our troops to do the job, because that is what happens all over the world. We cannot get them out once we allow them to occupy our territory,”

He also opposed the use of force to rescue the abducted Schoolgirls saying, “If anybody attempts to rescue the abducted Chibok schoolgirls by force, he is only going to be an accessory to murder because those girls could be killed in the process of military operation to free them and the problem is that we are back to square one.”
While urging the citizenry to support the military and other security agencies, “We must help them to achieve the burden of protecting our country and fight terrorism. We must unite to fight insurgents. Terrorism is not part of Islam. Some hide under Islam to commit crimes. They are criminals, terrorists and not Islamic militants, therefore we must fight terrorism. I don’t believe any Muslim will keep suicide bomber in his house knowing he would go and kill innocent people. Those people are not with us, they could be somewhere else.”

While tasking other leaders to act sincerely to tackle Boko Haram saying, the people believe in them and hence they must not be failed to avoid escalation of the problems bedeviling the country, Nigeria will overcome its present challenges and rise to be a better and developed country. In the past, as noted earlier, MSSN members themselves carried out program planning and execution. Today, however, perhaps due to large number of students, complexity of training camps, and inexperience of student leaders, programs such as the IVC are managed by volunteers most of who are employees. If the MSS members lack the skills to manage their own programs many will argue that they should be trained and allowed to do so, (even if with guidance from professional brothers and sisters at the background). Obviously, an arrangement where the students are not central in managing their own event can be said to be lacking in student ownership.

Former Kano State Governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, who was the guest speaker spoke on the theme of the event and other issues, he said:
The environment in which the MSSN operates nowadays is not without distinctive challenges: There is the issue of global indictment of political Islam in our time, as a result of which some students and parents are critical of associating with the MSSN. There is also the nuisance of the over-zealots one encounters here and there on campus who nag and annoy students, who in their naivety think they know the answer to almost everything, and who interpret attendance of ta’alim as the measure for piety. How do you mitigate this off-putting type of students and clear the way for ordinary students to associate with MSSN without fear of intimidation and stereotyping?

In addition, with incidences of sects and other unorthodox student groups vying for recruits on campus, how can MSSN assert its identity and effectively safeguard students? This is a question that is hard to make out, especially because while on the one hand MSSN is duty bound to protect students from wrong teachings, it is equally duty bound to try to rescue students already entrapped in fellowship of unorthodoxy. It appears that MSSN might need to reposition itself in order to remain the authentic and indomitable association for all muslim students, and at the same time overcome the assault of its adversaries in a rapidly changing school and societal environments.

Funding has remained a persistent challenge for MSSN especially in Zone A, where much of the funding for major programs, such as the IVC, comes from the government of the host state. Without doubt, this is a precarious and tricky arrangement. In fact, there were incidences where funding for IVC persistently came in late and in piecemeal, thus disrupting the courses.
The occasion witnesses dignitaries from all works of life, some are past leaders of MSSN, members and the occasion was well attended by delegates from all the Area units of MSSN nationwide and the MSS Ghana were also represented by their national president and other international students association worldwide. The occasion marks one of the best of its kind in recent time.

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