EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL/CEO (NOW FORMER)
Our Main Vision Is To Make Life Better For Society and the Less-Privileged
– Ambassador Ibrahim
AMBASSADOR ADAMU BABANGIDA IBRAHIMis the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (now former) of Jaiz Charity and Development Foundation. In this interview with AL-AMIN CIROMA, the Jaiz Foundation boss bare his mind on the origin of the foundation, its activities, successes and challenges, excerpts…
Sir, can you tell us how Jaiz Foundation came to be?
Jaiz Charity & Development Foundation is a non-governmental organization established by the first Non-Interest Bank in the country (Jaiz Bank Plc). As we know Islamic Banks always set up charity organizations to channel funds that are Non-permissible (Interest and other doubtful incomes) that cannot be used by the Bank.
At the initial stage, after the licensing of Jaiz Bank Plc, the Bank’s Board of Directors decided to set up an independent, not-for-profit organization called Jaiz Charity & Development Foundation, principally, to carry out charity and developmental interventions in various sectors of the economy to complement government’s efforts in the society. Through these efforts, the Foundation can handle the bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. That is how Jaiz Charity & Development Foundation came to be and that is how it works.
As a non-profit making institution, how do you continuously source for funds in running the foundation?
As I told you, the seed funds for running the Foundation were from the interest earnings from deposits for shares with the Central Bank of Nigeria prior to its licensing that cannot be used by the Bank. Further means of funding for the Foundation include Zakat, Grants & Donations from Individuals and Institutions whether Governmental or Non-Governmental as well as Income from the Foundation’s Shari’ah-compliant investments.
Issues of funds are bound by impediments in order to check and balance the books. How do you maintain transparency in the Foundation’s dealings?
When the Foundation was set up, the goal was to establish clear structures, both administrative and managerial. We have all that now and it is governed by a reputable 14-member Board of Trustees, who are in charge of policy formulation and giving guidance to the management team, headed by me as Director-General and Chief Executive Officer.
Here, we have five departments (Programs, Corporate Services, Internal Control, Finance & Investments, and Company Secretariat/Legal). These departments have their responsibilities with proper checks and balances. We are an organized institution and proud to say that, annually, external auditors check our accounts and report to the Board of Trustees.
Are there other countries that practice same?
As I told you, wherever Islamic banking is practiced, you find such Foundations. Jaiz Bank took this model from its technical partners, the Islami Bank of Bangladesh Limited (IBBL), which has a similar Foundation which is a global phenomenon.
Are they practiced only in Islamic countries?
No, my brother, no! The beauty of Islamic banking is that it is an alternative to the conventional banking system that we see. It is practiced in Islamic and non-Islamic countries.
In the United Kingdom, for example, you have Islamic Banks and Foundations. They are in the UAE, Bangladesh, United States, India, South Africa, Malaysia, etc.
To what extent has your Foundation positively touched the lives of the targeted people?
Our objective is to complement government effort and, in doing so, make life better for the society’s less privileged. We operate in Nigeria and are concerned about delivering on our Corporate Social Responsibility. So, most of our projects are aimed at societal upliftment, especially for the society’s most vulnerable, either directly (by doing it ourselves) or indirectly (by partnering with other organizations that are on-ground and can help us get it done).
These interventions are in terms of humanitarian assistance, by caring for people affected by floods, fire, conflicts etc. We also, intervene in areas of Education, Health, Agriculture, Economic Empowerment, in order to assist the less-privileged to be more self-reliant. So these are our focal points.
Any hitches preventing you from doing these as well as you should?
True, there are challenges, they will always be there. However, just do your best through active monitoring and evaluation, so as to ensure that what you do get to the targeted People.
As the Foundation’s CEO, how will you picture this organization at the end of your tenure?
The vision and mission of the Foundation are clear; they are not people-dependent. We have a laid-down path and our mission is to take the message of hope to the less-privileged. Our vision is to be among the greatest Islamic charity Foundations around the world. Right from the beginning, we know our destination and we are trying to achieve that.
Would it be correct to say that you have scaled through your challenges so far?
(Laughter) Life is a continuum! Likewise when you are heading an organization, you are bound to face challenges. Of course, there are limitations here and there, but the best thing is to do your best to achieve your targeted goals. You can see that this Foundation became quite active in the last two to three years, and to be honest, a lot has been done. We have carried out interventions to the tune of more than =N=400 million to date in different sectors across the country.
You mentioned that some of your interventions are indirect through partnerships with other NGOs. What qualities do you look for before partnering with an NGO?
Remember, I said that our interventions are community-based. First, we look at the activities of the NGO, what they have achieved if they are based in that community if they have records, evidence of their involvement in what we want to do, and so on. Once we are satisfied, we enter into an agreement and become partners.
Now, even when we partner, we allow them to be in the forefront, but we make sure that our people observe and are part of the process of executing the interventions and monitoring/evaluation. As we get along, we do it together and collaborate. In the end, the community is happy and we are also satisfied that our targets have been achieved.
You have been an Ambassador for this nation. Not only that, you have also served in various capacities in government and in the private sector, before voluntarily resigning to join Jaiz Foundation. Can you share with us your wealth of experience and also tell us the person behind Ambassador Adamu Babangida Ibrahim?
I am Ambassador Adamu Babangida Ibrahim and, as you said. I have been an Ambassador of Nigeria first to the Syrian Arab Republic and later to the Republic of Guinea. Before the end of my tenure in Guinea, I voluntarily resigned and came back to take up the position of the Director-General/CEO of Jaiz Charity Development Foundation.
Prior to that, I have been in the private sector as a Chartered Accountant, Tax Professional, and as Banker, for over 25 years.
While in the Public sector, I served as Commissioner for Finance, Budget & Economic Planning of my state; Katsina State, for at least five years, before being nominated to serve as an Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
To be honest with you, being in the private sector and being in the Public/Diplomatic Service really exposed me to life. I have become experienced as to my approach to life and my horizon has been widened. This is helping me a lot in administering and managing the Foundation.
Besides making this Foundation function, what other things is the organization doing to sustain itself?
As I have told you, for sustainability reasons, our sources of income are Halal-Based Investments. We take investment and profit opportunities that are Shari’ah compliant.
Let me give you an example. The Foundation has established a subsidiary called El-Jaiz Investments and Services Limited; it is a company that is into outsourcing and facility management. Currently, we are serving some institutions and branches of Jaiz Bank Plc and its Head Office in terms of Cleaning Services, Front-Desk Services, Driving Services etc, which we are doing extremely well and earning some good returns.
Also, we established another company to provide Islamic Insurance services in Nigeria (Jaiz Takaful Insurance Plc) to provide alternative insurance services which is Shari’ah compliant. We are one of the first two companies to be licensed by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM).
Also, the Foundation takes opportunities in commodity trading with established manufacturers, by providing them with raw materials and they pay us after a few weeks. These are some investments that we are into, to make the foundation sustainable.
How many states have you covered through your interventions?
We have covered all nooks and crannies of Nigeria; North-west, North-east, North Central, South-South, South East, and South West. The Foundation is a national one, so we touched every corner in terms of Humanitarian Services, Health, Sanitation & Water, Education, Economic Empowerment etc.
Thank you sir.