‘Islamic banking windows can benefit everybody’

Ambassador Adamu Babangida Ibrahim, a banker, has served as Nigerian Ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic and the Republic of Guinea. Ambassador Ibrahim who is the pioneer Director-General, Jaiz Charity and Development Foundation, a charity arm of the Jaiz Bank, the foremost Islamic bank in Nigeria, in this interview with Assistant Editor Nduka Chiejina speaks on the birth of Jaiz Foundation, challenges d prospects of running an Islamic foundation. Excerpts:

On leading Jaiz Foundation

I voluntarily resigned my appointment, that is, ambassadorial appointment and took up appointment as pioneer Director General/Chief Executive Officer of Jaiz Charity and Development Foundation. I think that is just a brief of how I came into Jaiz Foundation.

Transiting from being a banker, diplomat to being the DG of Jaiz Foundation

I was trained as an accountant, became a banker then I had a stint in the public service and then of course, went into foreign service diplomacy and that has widened my horizon and therefore see my coming into Jaiz Foundation which is a nongovernmental organisation for charity and development and which is a bit also related to banking and I felt it is still further part of my career as a banker, as a diplomat and as a public servant. All combined, I think it gives me a lot of opportunities.

Vision for the Foundation

Jaiz Charity and Development Foundation which is the full name and the trading name is, as well as the registered name or short name of what we called Jaiz foundation, is a product of the first non interest financial institution, Jaiz Bank Plc and it is normal under where you have non interest financial institution which is Islamic bank. There is a product designed as a foundation where some income that the bank cannot recognise under their profit and loss as Halal income, they have to move it for use as charity purposes,  as well as the double Corporate social responsibility agent of that institution, Jaiz Bank. So, that is how we came into existence, and you can see that Jaiz Foundation is a product of Jaiz Bank Plc which was registered under Batch C of the Company Allied and Matters Under the Corporate Affairs Commission, Batch C as Non-governmental and  nonprofit organisation for charity and development purposes which was registered on 2nd April 2012.

You know the main issue of non interest financial institutions is that nothing in the form of interest or what we call Ribah in Arabic can be recognized as income. Therefore, any type of income that comes through to Jaiz Bank, that is, something like that in the form of interest which cannot be legally, under Islamic Sharia and principles, recognised as Halal income. That type of income has to be moved to the next foundation that is why a lot of income pre-incorporation income whereby deposit of shareholders of Jaiz Bank deposited money for shares before the licensing. These monies were invested with the CBN and other financial instruments like Treasury Bills which attracts interest. Now, income from that cannot be used by the bank, eventually after the licensing of Jaiz Bank, now it became imperative that they cannot use that money. Now all that money now is channelled through the Foundation for charity and development purposes for human development to compliment government efforts.

This is a universal practice worldwide, anywhere in the world where you find Islamic banking, whether in Europe, Asia, Middle East, it is a standard practice, Islamic banks normally have foundations.

Target beneficiaries of Jaiz Foundation

Everybody. These monies are supposed to be used for charity and development purposes for interventions, especially in the poor and underserved people for economic empowerment, for intervention in health, education and so forth.

Besides, if you noticed even Jaiz Bank is a relatively young institution. Not to talk of the foundation which was created after Jaiz Bank obtained its licence. So we are a young institution. Positively we have made some impact base on the trust as enshrined by the board of trustees based on the strategic business plan that was initially set up, five years strategic business plan that was set up for the Foundation at inception and this span a period of, let us say one and a half year. From April 2014 till date, the foundation has intervened in various sectors. I can give you the details but in various sectors, interventions in terms of materials, cash donations, the total values so far of what we have intervened is roughly about one hundred and five million naira (N105, 000, 000), so far. This as I said include donation of relief materials, which include food stuffs, clothings to victims of insurgency. This, we started with insurgency and coming up clashes before it transformed to IDPs. We have done that with nine states of the federation: Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau, Zamfara, Kastina, Kaduna and Nasarawa states which was about N56.5million worth of materials. We also made some car donations along the line to families of deceased persons that contributed when Jaiz Bank was established which was N3million. Also when there was an attack on a prayer Mosque in Kano on a Friday, we donated N10million each to the palace Emir, to the Mosque, and then N10million to the Kano state government as a relief to the victims of that blast. Which in total is N20 million which was done in early December 2014.

Other streams of income for the Foundation

That is a very good question, you see, as I made mention to you the primary purpose of establishing the foundation but that is not all, the foundation has other sources to sustain its operations because when this foundation was established, the intention was an independent nongovernmental, nonprofit organisation, separate with its own board of trustees differently from Jaiz Bank Plc. So, it is operating as a separate foundation. Apart from those monies coming in from Jaiz Bank, we also have others donations that will come from Jaiz Bank and some other sources also. We partner with international donors, with local donors for donations. Also we have Zakat money from the bank, the customers of the bank and from other individuals and corporate organizations, you know the Islamic Zakat, every year you are enjoined to give a portion of what money you have made for charity like tithe. These are all sources of funding. Then another important aspect is that our constitution allows us also to make investments, profitable investments, where we can now source income. But the important thing to note is that nobody will benefit from that income for any investment as form of dividends or whatever because it is a charity. What we do, whatever income we get, we use it to sustain our operations of charity and intervention and development purposes, and it is line with that, we now set up, currently we have a company we called El-Jaiz Investment and services that is in charge of investment and out sourcing functions. We provided services at the initial stage of Jaiz Bank and some other customers with drivers, cleaners, security, bank tellers and marketers. All these are out sourcing the company has been applauded for. We have also floated a company just about waiting for licence from the National Insurance Corporation. It’s a full-fledged Islamic Insurance Takaful company, Jaiz Takaful Insurance Company PLC, which is also meant to derive income that will attract other investors as well as the foundation also to make reasonable income to sustain its operations. So these are all sources of income that will sustain the operations of Jaiz Foundation.

Experience working Jaiz Foundation thus far

My experience so far has shown that in Nigeria because of the nature of our country and the circumstances we found ourselves, we found out that there are a lot of areas that need intervention. People need assistance. If you see the flurry of request we receive everyday for humanitarian assistance and intervention, it’s so much such that if today we decide to disburse all what we have, it is not going to be enough for people. Just recently, we did another interventions for IDPs in Borno state last year. Just about two weeks ago, we did another intervention where we donated food stuff, materials, mats, blankets, worth over ten million naira (N10, 000, 000). We went and presented last week to internally displaced persons not in government camps, but this time around, the last one we did was to IDPs last year , those that are staying in camps, now the board targeted, what we did, we Independently formed a committee and targeted IDPs living within communities. You know there are IDPs living with people. So we got some statistics, at least some reasonable number of people, 1500 bodies of families benefitted from this intervention ranging from food stuffs, materials, mosquito net, and the rest.

Challenges thus far

The challenges for now as a start up, yes, we have the issue of manpower. Since I came, we are trying to set up the foundation to have the requisite skilled man power that are quite experienced in NGOs and the rest. It is an issue also, we are trying to get there but we have some challenges in that area. The second challenge as I told you earlier is the real demand for intervention especially with the insurgency and the rest of things and empowerment, economic, people needing economic empowerment they are so enormous and within the limited resources we have also it is difficult but our strategy is, as far as we can do a little as we can. Also, let us identify areas where we can generate income so that these things will be sustainable. This is our main focus. These are some of the challenges we have. Also, as far as we are trying to push our necks out to see the sources of getting income because until you get the money you cannot do all these interventions. So these are some of the challenges we are facing now.

Source: Nation