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Lawyers, others profer solutions to nation’s economy downturn

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By Abdulwahab Abdulah

An accountant and Managing Director of Credit Bureau, a financial organisation, Mr Ahmed Popoola has said that Islamic banking window will help in ending the current economic downturn being experienced in the country.

Popoola made the disclosure while delivering the keynote address at the annual national conference of the Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria (MULAN) held in Lagos, weekend.

The theme of the conference is : “Pulling Nigeria Out of the Economic Recession.”

This was coming as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice W. Onoghen represented by Justice Sidi Dauda Bage of the Supreme Court of Nigeria lauded the efforts of the lawyers, asking them to continue to do all that can promote ethics of the legal profession.

In his address, the keynote speaker noted: “Islamic finance is an alternative option worth exploring to raise funds for public works and to support the private sector access to finance.

“Worldwide, Islamic finance is no more peripheral to conventional finance as it is being operated in 75 countries, including western nations.

“People think that the Islamic financial system is based on faith, but it is based on justice for the two parties.

“Besides, Islamic finance system does not allow investments that harm people or the environment, thereby promoting sustainable finance,” he said.

The accountant, noted that the options that Islamic finance offers in funding public infrastructure and empowering small business will help to bail the country out of recession.

He also condemned the bogous budget of N125 billion appropriated to the National Assembly in the 2017 budget, adding that the current budget cannot “address the inherent flaws in our budgeting system and resource allocation.”

Popoola, also noted that Nigeria was experiencing recession for the second time as the country had experienced recession in the 1980s.

“Before this current experience of recession, the last time Nigeria was in recession was about 25 years ago.

“That was in 1987 when the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) recorded consecutive negative growth of -0.51% in the first quarter.

“Recession does not happen overnight, the ominous signs are always there. During the recession if the 1980s, the signs of things to come were apparent in the early 1980s when the then federal government declared ‘Austerity Measures.’

“The signs of the 2016 recession were also manifested in the preceding years. Real GDP growth slid from 6.3% in 2014 to 2.7% in 2015 and finally to a negative of -1.5% in 2016.

“Just as it was in the 1980s, Nigeria again, this time, found itself in recession because of the challenge of earnings from oil.

Popoola added that the Nigeria is currently exiting the recession and that there have been recent improvements in the earnings from the oil industry.

He gave various suggestions where the country can overcome the recession and get on the path of growth and development.

“There needs to a diversify the economy and invest massively in infrastructure, there needs to be a re-orientation of Nigeria towards appreciating our products is imperative.”

National President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), a Senior Advocate, Mr Abubakat Mahmud in his speech said that the NBA and MULAN should collaborate on Islamic banking projects.

“I will like to thank Mr Ahmed Popoola for an enlightening speech, the NBA and MULAN should collaborate on a proposal on Islamic banking which can be adopted by financial organisations.

“When we look at national indices, we notice the inequalities between some certain groups. This becomes problematic in countries and developing Islamic finance told can bridge a gap between the groups,” Mahmoud said.

Speaking, another erudite lawyer, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, SAN, decried the low level of western education among people of the Islamic faith.

“I am extremely happy that muslim lawyers came together to form MULAN, the level of education among Muslims is very low, we are still behind in western education.

“If you look at the list of successful candidates at the bar exams in the law school, we still find that the number of Muslim brothers and sisters called to bar compared to our Christian brothers and sisters is as low as 10 to 15 percent.

NBA President noted that his presence at the conference was to express support and solidarity for MULAN.

“I want to thank the leadership of MULAN for the leadership it is providing and I will like greater partnership between the NBA and MULAN,” Mahmoud said.

Speaking, another SAN, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, decried the low level of western education among people of the Islamic faith.

“I am extremely happy that muslim lawyers came together to form MULAN, the level of education among Muslims is very low, we are still behind in western education.

The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Oluwafunmilayo Atilade, in her remarks stated that the theme of the event was of high relevance as it affects every Nigerian.

Atilade who was represented by Justice Kudirat Jose, commended MULAN for its strides in the justice sector.

“MULAN was created just 10 years ago and because of its successes in the justice sector, I thought it has been for a longer period.

“As lawyers we should be a member of MULAN and make our mark in the justice sector.

“The theme for today and other topics to be discussed are highly relevant to us.

“I thank you all once again and I pray that this conference will be a resounding success,” she said.

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