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FOMWAN: the Journey So Far by Abdussalam Abdulfattah

Hajiya Halimat Jibril has a very rich working experience, from the public service to development work. She retired as Director of programme services at Radio Niger after over 30 years in the Civil service of Niger State. She once worked as the programme secretary with the European Economic Commission/FGN/Middlebelt Project. She served as a consultant for UNICEF Nigeria as the State Coordinator for the FGN/DFID/UNICEF Girls’ Education Project Phases 1 & 2 in Katsina and Bauchi States respectively. She also did some work in the area of Nomadic education in Bauchi State.  From her youthful days she loves reading, writing, travelling as well as working for women and children.  Currently, she is a non executive member of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON).

Her concern for the general welfare and development of girls and women, and particularly for girls’ education found expression in her early membership of the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN) where today; she is the current National President. 

From just an idea,  35  years ago, these founding mothers of  FOMWAN,  Hajiya Aisha Lemu (late), Hajiya Lateefah Okunnu, Professor Sadiya Umar, Justice Amina Wambai,  Hajiya Bilikisu Yusuf (late),Hajiya Muslimah Kamaldeen, Hajiya Raliat Sanni, and Halimat Jibril, gathered  and  resolved to establish the organization, with the view  to improve through Dawah  the level of Islamic knowledge of Muslim women and the Taribiyyah  of their children in line with Islamic values. They chose to achieve these through the establishment of conventional schools, Women’s Islamiyyah classes and Usrah sessions. Thus today, FOMWAN has functional schools (nursery, primary and secondary) in 27 states, maintains robust Dawah branches in the 36 states and the FCT, headquarters in Abuja and 2000 Islamiyyah classes spread throughout the Federation.

According to Halimat Jibril, the last 35years in the history of the organization have been eventful. ‘’FOMWAN, started, with a group of Muslim women, with solid support from her patrons, comprised of Justice Sheikh Ahmed Lemu (rtd), Justice AbdulKadir Orire(rtd) , late Justice Bashir Sambo, and other notable Nigerians like: the late Chief MKO Abiola, and Aare Azeez Arisekola Alao, and others to mention just few. The growth is phenomenal, surpassing the founders’ aspirations. In addition to FOMWANS’ achievements in her core reasons of establishment she forays to many other areas in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and modern day requirements. FOMWAN has contributed to healthcare delivery in Nigeria through the establishment of a full fledge hospital and four clinics. She is also into health advocacy, reaching out to the public through health campaigns on Immunization, breast cancer, nutrition (to avoid stunted growth of children), maternal and infant mortality, preventable diseases such as malaria through the distribution of 59,000 sets of health educational dvds in the three main languages of Nigeria. FOMWAN just commissioned its drug abuse counseling centre in Lagos to reduce the menace of drug abuse among youths and women’’. 

She adds ‘’FOMWAN has also gone into Community development and Humanitarian services, working with communities through the community-led development approach to define their development agenda based on their priorities. Similarly, she operates orphanages around the country, which have been supportive of the orphans from day one to their graduation from tertiary institutions. She has also been the link between government policies, programmes and people of many communities because of the explicit trust many people have in the activities of the group’’.

Like any Islamic organization in the modes of FOMWAN, paucity of funds has always been an issue. The organization relies on membership contributions and the benevolence of wealthy Nigerian Muslims for the execution of her programmes. The increasing demands of FOMWAN’s operational environment require her to do more bases on her thematic areas. There are emerging challenges requiring her attention such as the over 10million out of school children in Nigeria, 60% of which are girls; the challenges of the Internal  Displaced Persons in  IDP camps  due to insecurity in the North East, gender-based violence,  the menace of drug abuse and concern about the almajeri children. Expressing her views on the Almajiri syndrome she said: ‘’there is no Islamic basis or reason to limit these children’s capacities to one component of knowledge.  If we do that, we are not fully representing Islam because the Ummah will eventually suffer for it. As mothers FOMWAN feels concerned and has to work with other stakeholders to address the situation’’. 

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