A former Secretary General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and pioneer president of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), the late Dr Abdul-Lateef Adegbite, has been eulogised for his contributions to the propagation of Islam in Nigeria and beyond.
Speakers and contributors paid tributes to Dr Adegbite at a recent virtual seminar organised in the deceased’s honour by an Islamic periodical, The Peace Magazine.
The programme was tagged ‘MSSN: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Remembering Dr Abdul-Lateef Adegbite (CON), A Man That Lived for the People’.
Speakers recalled the contributions of the late NSCIA scribe to the propagation of Islam in Nigeria from his youthful days till he breathed his last on Friday, 28 September, 2012.
Adegbite was described as a man of many parts and a beacon of hope for many Muslims and Nigerians in general.
One of the speakers, Malam Yusuf Ali (SAN), said the MSSN under the leadership of Dr Adegbite was an important part of Nigeria’s history as the Muslim students’ body played important roles in national discourses and development in the 1980s and 90s.
Ali, who said he knew Adegbite since a long time ago, described himself and a host of other people like Alhaji Liadi Tella, Professor Kamil Oloso, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, as well as Professor Ishaq Oloyede (registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board) as inheritors of Adegbite’s heritage.
The Senior Advocate said Adegbite’s guidance, mentorship and leadership came in handy because though some of them came from Islamic background, the MSSN then actually made them better Muslims.
While admonishing every Muslim to be up and doing and stick to Islamic tenets as practised by the late Baba Adinni of Egbaland, Ali commended the leadership of the MSSN for naming a mosque after Adegbite but advised that “we must imbibe the culture of celebrating our leaders and elders while they are alive.”
He said the MSSN must always be part of important national issues as witnessed in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
“MSSN should be part of Islamic movement in Nigeria and be critical stakeholders in national discourses when it matters most. We must not be onlookers as regards national issues,” Ali said.
In her contribution, Lagos State first female deputy governor, Alhaja Lateefat Okunnu, said the MSSN remained the launch pad for many vibrant Islamic organisations such as the National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO).
The former Lagos number two citizen, who said Adegbite was her mentor for 50 years, recalled that Muslim students during her time as a member were victimised and called names because of what they believed in.
She stated that the Scripture Union (SU) was at the forefront of religious activities in Nigeria at the time but the Muslim students did not relent in their struggles and eventually had their way to create identity for Islam and Muslims.
Okunnu urged the immediate Adegbite family to carry on the virtues and legacies of their patriarch.
She said the “good old days” of the MSSN must be brought back because the body of Muslim students in Nigeria has been quiet on the national scene and its performance needs to be reexamined.
She added that the performance review of the MSSN was important for moving the society forward.
“There is the need to have a performance or audit review for MSSN to be relevant like in the past. Our children are now second-class citizens in school and we need to also review the MSSN camping programmes because the results are hardly seen,” she said.
The former deputy governor said that Muslim homes are in “serious trouble” as a result of high rate of divorce, which has led to broken homes and the products of such homes engaging in drug abuse and other vices.
The Asiwaju Musulumi of Iwo and former managing director of the defunct Monitor newspaper, Alhaji Liadi Tella, commended the organisers of the programme to honour Adegbite and described the event as one of the best to have come from the South West.
He said his generation of MSSN was vilified but the members employed peaceful approach to Islamic propagation.
Tella said the MSSN was a pathfinder and an organisation that brought joy to Islamic homes and families.
He said it was high time the negative perception about Islam was countered, saying Islam does not support terrorism and Muslims are never terrorists.
He added that the time has come to bring the MSSN to the reality of the society and called on the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN) and other Islamic organisations to educate and enlighten young Muslim students in secondary schools and higher institutions about the propagation of Islam.
Others who spoke at the programme included Alhaja Modinat Adegbite (wife of Dr Abdu-Lateef Adegbite), Chief Ladi Adegbite (son), Alhaja Sherifat Sanni (niece), Professor Fatai Badru (HOD, Social Works, University of Lagos), Professor Muslih Yahya (Executive Secretary, MUSWEN), Malam Nurudeen Asunoge and Malam Jameel Mohammed (both former MSSN presidents) and Alhaja Shareefat Andu (MD/CEO, Arabel).
They all extolled Dr Adegbite’s virtues and called for the sustenance of his legacies.