LAGOS - The highest umbrella Muslim body in Nigeria has named a new secretary general to pilot the affairs of the powerful entity, a selection hailed for satisfying a long-standing yearning for traditional Muslim scholars with religious and Arabic background to reshape relations with the government.
We welcome the election of Prof Oloyede as the new NSCIA [Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs] scribe, Sheikh Habeebullah Adam el-ilory, the rector of the popular Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Lagos told OnIslam.net on Thursday, May 9.
We believe he fits into the caliber of people that should represent Muslim interests especially as regard government policies and relations with the Muslim community.
Professor Ishaq Oloyede, a high-ranking academic, was chosen a new NSCIA secretary general, replacing Dr Abdullateef Adegbite, who died last year.
Business tycoon Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola Alao, from the country's Southwest with huge Muslim population, was also chosen as the NSCIA deputy president.
The Sultan of Sokoto, who is the unofficial head of the Nigerian Muslims, is the President-General of the powerful bloc.
The umbrella organization for all Islamic groups in Nigeria could not have made a better choice, Professor Ishaq Akintola, executive director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), told OnIslam.net.
Oloyede's antecedents speak most vehemently.
A former vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin, professor Oloyede has a doctorate in Islamic studies.
He was until January 2011 president of Association of African Universities (AAU) and was on the boards of Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and International Association of Universities (IAU).
Oloyede is an alumnus of the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies Agege, and he obtained a first class Bachelor's Degree in Arabic from the University of Ilorin in 1981, amongst other academic qualifications.
He is also a visiting scholar to many universities across the world. He is also the inventor of what he called Unilorin Shari`ah keyboard I, which is presently at trial with software experts. It is software to replace traditional method of calculating shares in mirath (inheritance in Islamic law).
The new NSCIA scribe took the University of Ilorin to great heights as its Vice Chancellor for five years, Akintola said.
Oloyede also became the Chairman of all African Vice Chancellors during his tenure as Unilorin VC. Records show that he performed creditably well as the Co-Secretary of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC).
Oloyede's election is hailed for satisfying a long-standing yearning for traditional Muslim scholars with religious and Arabic background to reshape relations with the government.
For many years it is our belief that many of those who represented Muslims lack the basic knowledge to represent us well, Sheikh Habeebullah told OnIslam.net.
But Prof Oloyede has the requisite knowledge in Arabic and Islamic studies with which to lead the NSCIA secretariat.
He also praised the leadership of the Sultan of Sukoto in promoting unity among Nigerian Muslims.
We pray Allah to guide the new scribe, and we urge him to bring his wealth of knowledge to bear in the new assignment as he did in past assignments.
Abdulhakeem Ogunmuyiwa, spokesman of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), was also jubilant.
Prof Ishaq's combination of a rich background in Arabic and Islamic studies with his deep western education would be a big plus for the ummah during his reign. He said that the appointment came at a time the Muslims need a strong, intellectual and uncompromising voice to champion their cause and inspire the young generations about the challenges of living in a multi-religious and diverse society like Nigeria and surviving a world gripped by Islamophobia.
Ustadh Ismail Sa'adallah, a Muslim scholar based in Nigeria's Northwestern Kano State, agrees.
Professor's success so far as co-secretary of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) is a testament to his capacity to head the secretariat of the NSCIA.
A major challenge facing the new NSCIA scribe is uniting college-educated Islamists with traditional scholars, who hold divergent views on issues as niqab, marital and burial rites.
The new scribe has a duty to unite these powerful forces within the Muslim ummah, Ustadh Sulaiman Muhammad of Markaz Nahdotul Islamiyyah, Lagos, told OnIslam.net.
But in doing so, he would be required to show understanding to both sides. And good for him, he belongs on both sides.
Prof Akintola shares a similar opinion.
We charge the new NSCIA scribe to remain focused, diligent and God-conscious in the discharge of his duties.
We repose tons of confidence in Professor Oloyede as the right man with the capacity to reengineer and reposition NSCIA.
But Sheikh Habeebullah said the new scribe will need to ensure that scholars are well consulted about the issues affecting the Muslim community.
Thus striking a departure from the past when Shari`ah issues are handled in unacceptable ways and policies affecting Muslims are drafted by people who know little or nothing about Islamic jurisprudence that is the basis of everything Islamic.Muslims make up nearly 55 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population.