Crescent Bearers has celebrated its 80th anniversary of continuous commitment to fostering quality education among Muslims and providing charity to indigent Nigerians. The organisation established by 16 young men in 1939 out of passion for humanity, over the weekend held an anniversary lecture tagged “Education as a Resource for Growth and Development of a Nation: The Nigerian Case” at Yoruba Tennis Club, Onikan Lagos. CHINAKA OKORO reports.
For solid eight decades, a group of 16 individuals have been touching lives of the downtrodden. They belong to the Crescent Bearers.
At their anniversary lecture, speakers harped on the importance of education.
On how the organisation evolved, the Chairman, Crescent Bearers, Bearer, Wahab Dabiri, noted that it was an idea formed by 16 Bearers in 1939 out of love for humanity.
“Crescent Bearers are made up of people who are in their 90’s and those in their 40’s who have come together to make promotion of education and morals among Muslims a priority and also charity support to indigent citizens.
“It was founded 80 years ago by a group of 16 young men as at that time, who get together once in a month and decided to enjoy one another’s company.
“But, while they were doing this, they felt that it was not good enough just to eat and drink and be merry. They thought it wise that since they were part of a society, a community they must support that community. Hence, as they were enjoying themselves, they were putting some money down to support two key courses.
“That was how we started the Association of Muslims Lagos Island. But we have moved away from just supporting only people on the Island. Scholarships that we give to any Muslim are not based on course of study or ethnicity. Although it still tilts more a bit towards Muslims from Lagos Island.
“Just about a year ago, we decided to do more than those two issues that we talked about. We decided to go a little bit higher and we are building a mosque not for ourselves, but for the communities along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. We should complete the project by middle of next year,” he said.
Speaking on the topic “Education as a Resource for Growth and Development of a Nation: The Nigerian Case” Bearer Wahab said: “Education as we have it today is not what it is going to be anymore. There is no way we can attract foreign investment into our country if our people are not fit for the purpose.
“If they are still using black boards and typewriters to study and not using laptops and iPads, then we are in trouble.”
The Chairman for the occasion and former Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Rahman Bello, congratulated the organisation on its strides towards improving the lives of indigent citizens and the educational system for the past 80 years.
He said: “To be 80 means a lot, let alone an association that has continued to improve the educational system among Muslims for that long. My prayer is that you continue to exist in perpetuity and the objectives be retained and be expanded upon all humanity.
“Education is necessarily the bedrock for national development, and for Nigeria, it can’t be any different. We haven’t gotten it right yet, but we must get it right if we want to remain a great nation and God’s given nation.
“As the focus on petroleum goes off as it would soon in the next decade, the human knowledge economy would be what Nigeria would need to be able to keep up and maintain itself. Our population is growing at an astronomical rate and the only way we can really take care of ourselves is to fully be educated, be able to apply technology for ourselves, be able to assist ourselves and create things here in Nigeria to support the nation and be able to export them to other countries.
“I know we are currently exporting, but it’s not in an astronomical rate. By that time, we would be able to develop appropriately and do things ourselves and develop everything that we need in-house so that we can export to the world and contribute to the world economy. That is the only way we can move forward, and it can only happen through education.”
Guest lecturer, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu began by congratulating the organisation for the milestone achieved over eight decades of its existence. He also noted that there is no happy or progressive society without a viable educational system and no nation can be greater than the quality of its educational institutions.
“Let me start my congratulating the leadership and members of Crescent Bearers Association. Eighty years in the life of any organisation is a critical milestone. Your efforts to use education to address the relative disadvantage of members of the society are certainly a model of what a community can do to make the society better.
“Education is the key to any nation’s growth and development. It is true that the population of any country is its greatest asset, but that asset can become a liability unless it is nurtured through education.
“In other words, population forms the soil of a nation, education enriches that soil. If you want to understand the current situation of any country, go no further but look at the state of its educational institution. To know the state of any nation just visit its educational institution.
“There is no happy or progressive society without a viable educational system. No nation can be greater than the quality of its educational institutions. This is because it is where you produce the future leaders; from engineers to bankers, to architects, to administrators and so on.
“When we talk about education in this country, we should cast our net wide and go beyond literacy and numeracy, to provide some sound moral content, without which the mere ability to read and write alone would be inadequate. Education must have a meaning beyond passing literacy or passing numeracy to serve as means of positively changing the society.”
The INEC boss also noted that character and learning must be combined for education to have real meaning and for products of the education system to serve as agents of social transformation.
He insisted that nations must provide quality and relevant education and not just a motion of going through the four walls of our class room,
“After all, the richest people in the world are no longer in the oil and gas and mining; they are into the knowledge economy of the 21st Century. The 25 richest people in the world in 2019 are largely in the IT economy of the 21st Century.”
Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said the combination of education and Islamic religion “if we can get it right, which people hardly do, opens doors to every souls to have ease of life.
“Education and Islam can never be divorced but we have to get it right. In this modern day’s economy that we are all facing, education is what we need to live up to the 21st Century. I think it is important that we all join hands together. I have seen and read statistics about founding of Muslim schools, enrolment of Muslim students and will I sit quietly back and watch its decline?
“We have eminent Muslims in this country. But beyond eminence, I think it’s time that we put those human resources together to give our children a better education that would put and see them in good shape, going into the future.”