Distinguished Gentlemen of the media, Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatuh. May the peace and blessings of Almighty Allah Subhanahu wataala be with you all.
It is indeed a great pleasure speaking with you collectively after my appointment as the Amir (National President) by the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V (May Allah be His Helper). I took over from Professor Mashhud Adenrele Fashola after 15 years of meritorious services to the Nigerian Jama’at. We appreciate your support and understanding over the years and am stretching hands of fellowship to you all. Alhamdulillah.
Let me use this unique opportunity to congratulate Mr. Mustapha Isa, the new President Nigerian Guild of Editors. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at pray to Almighty Allah to give him wisdom and good health to accomplish the tasks ahead.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Nigeria since its inception in 1916 has been in the forefront of religious tolerant, humanitarian services in the areas of education, health, and general wellbeing. We are a pioneer in the areas of education and health services in Nigeria.
Gentlemen of the press, the Jalsa Salana (Islamic conference) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the formal annual gathering instituted by the founder of the Islamic group, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah (as) in 1891, in the remote village of Qadian. The first Jalsa Salana was attended then by 75 members of the community. According to the book “Heavenly Decree “the Jalsa Salana was meant to achieve the following:
- To listen to spiritual discourses – lectures with a view to increasing one’s communion with Allah the Almighty,
- Participate in congregational prayers,
- Meet love ones, new members and strengthening brotherhood among other benefits.
Hence it is not just an ordinary gathering, it is a spiritual get together. This convention is held in over 195 countries on an international scale, sometimes with over 38,000 participants.
In Nigeria, the Jalsa Salana started in 1940 at Ikoyi Park with few members. It moved to the Muslim Teacher Training College, Randle Avenue, Surulere, Ahmadiyya Headquarters Ojokoro, Jamia Ahmadiyya, Ilaro, Hadeeqah Ahmad, Keffi Road, Abuja and now back in Jamia Ahmadiyya, Ilaro.
In retrospect, the 2008 Centenary Jalsa Salana was attended by His Holiness Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (atba), the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR) was at the 2017 edition while the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osibajo (GCON) was on hand at the 2018 Annual Conference in Ilaro.
In line with the core values of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community “Love for all Hatred for None”, the 2019 edition of Jalsa Salana slated for 20th December to 22nd December will focus on the Holy Quran Chapter 16 verse 126 “Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in a way that is best. Surely, thy Lord knows best who has strayed from his way, and He knows those who are rightly guided”.
Highlights of the two-day events are praises of Allah and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), message from the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, Goodwill messages from the Nigerian President and State Officials, Religious Leaders, Lectures, Special Prayers, and Academic Awards.
Prominent Invited Guests Expected at this year’s event are the Nigerian President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR), The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibajo (GCON), Speaker, Nigeria House Of Representatives, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, The Governor Of Ogun State His Excellency Dapo Abiodun MFR, His Deputy, Alhaja Naimot Salako, Governor Of State Of Osun, Alhaj Isiaq Adegboyega Oyetola, Deputy Governor, Lagos State, Engineer Obafemi Qadri Hamzat.
Leading Traditional Rulers In Nigeria invited for the event include, The Olu Of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler Of Yewaland, The Emir Of Kano, Etsu Of Nupe, The Obong Of Calabar, The Akirun Of Ikirun, The Olota Of Ota Among Others.
Islamic Scholars across Nigeria are been expected, from the media, we are expecting The Chairman MITV, The Managing Director, News Agency Of Nigeria, General Manager OGTV, Zonal Director Lagos, Federal Radio Corporation Of Nigeria, General Manager and Editor In Chief Vanguard Newspapers, Editor The Guardian Newspapers and host of others.
Interestingly, we are also expecting delegates from the neighboring countries of Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire among others. A communique will be issued at the end of the Islamic conference to the Nigerian media and the populace at large.
Gentlemen of the press, it is equally pertinent to comment on national issues that affect all of us. Aside from the economic and political challenges facing the country at present, two critical issues are on the front burner of national discourse. These are the Social Media bill and Hate Speech bill at the National Assembly.
As a lawyer, I believe there are enough extant laws in the Nigerian constitution that adequately takes care of these two bills. At present we have libel law and defamation, cybercrime law and other criminal laws that can effectively accommodate any misdemeanor on the use of social media platforms and extreme comments capable of inflaming passions and causing disunity in the country.
Since democracy is about the people, I urge the National Assembly to focus more on bills about developments in all facets of Nigerian life rather than being distracted with the Social Media and Hate Speech Bills.
Against the background, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Nigeria commends the commitment of the Nigerian Government to the Railway Transportation System. The free railway transportation between Lagos and Abeokuta is laudable. We urged the government to exert the same positive attitude to general infrastructural developments across the country.
On the final note, we wish Nigerians Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance.
Thank you for coming and we look forward to reading, listen and watch your reports on Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat activities. I also call for prayers and support during my tenure.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Long live Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Nigeria.
Alhaji (Barrister) AbdulAzeez Folorunso Alatoye
Amir Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Nigeria