By Abdullah Shuaib
We became friends in 2008 when I assumed office as the pioneer Executive Director/CEO of Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation, Lagos, where I initiated media parley with the management of the foundation. Waheed Bakare was among the several Muslim journalists that honoured my invitation even though he knew me not before that time. Waheed as popularly called was an unassuming person. That was the first impression I got from him on the first day of our meeting and remained consistent until his demise.
Within the span of those years, it was either we met at one of the events of the foundation or another Muslim programme. On other occasions, we spoke on phones about upcoming events of the foundation or Nigerian Project or how to support the Muslim journalists by building their capacity. Waheed was a selfless journalist who put the interest of his colleagues in the media profession above his. Any opportunity he had with me, he always centred his conversations on the need for the Muslim Ummah to work insidiously either through collaboration or partnership with local or international organisations on the human capital development of Muslim journalists.
I recall a particular day when he called me on phone to express his joy upon hearing that our foundation had muted the idea of sponsoring Muslim journalists abroad for training. He was very excited and appreciative of the initiative and wished that many other Islamic faith-based organisations could emulate our footstep. Waheed was also a reliable, trusted and loyal friend. During the wedding of one of my daughters, he was among those I sent late invite to. In spite of his previous commitments which clashed with the date of the wedding, he honoured my family with his attendance from the beginning to the end of the ceremony. Waheed demonstrated his loyalty as a true friend.
To say Waheed Bakare was a Muslim activist and core professional in the media sector is an understatement. Aside been a practising Muslim, he used the pen to propagate Islam, defend its image and represent the interest of the larger Ummah without infringing on the rights of non-Muslims. He was able to balance Islamic activism with professionalism. Like the sayings of Ali bn Abi Talib, “the value of every person is found in what he is best at,” inspired by altruistic motive, I can say that Waheed was never found wanting in his journalism profession by any of his employers and within the space of the Muslim Ummah till his soul returned to its creator.
My tribute to Waheed will not be completed if I do not mention that he was humane, kind-hearted and generous. Many people have wrong impression about journalists. Majority will even throw caution to the wind by associating beggary with journalism. Of course, this is far from been true. Again, I recall early this year, 11th January, 2020, when I created a WhatsApp group named – A Helping Hand – used for crowd funding to bail out a young school certificate girl that lost her father and her family were ejected from their apartment because they could not afford the rental fee among other existential challenges. Though I don’t know the girl before our conversation, I promised to assist her.
At that time, I was financially constrained. I thought of what to do for this girl that wolfs in human skins wanted to take advantage of. Allah’s guidance came at hand. In my own words, quoting from the wall of the group “However, due to the urgency and circumstances beyond my control at this period, I am unable to do the needful. Hence, I have to reach out to kind-hearted people like you for a FAVOUR on behalf of a distressed Muslim sister, who needs urgent assistance of #500,000.” The late Waheed Bakare was among the few kind-hearted friends I added to the group. Within 24 hours, I was able to realise N750,000 for the distressed girl. Waheed kept sending private sms explaining the difficulty he was experiencing from network failure which caused his inability to make his donation. I was impressed that some men such as Waheed from the fourth estate of the realm could be so passionate and moved by altruism to support the distressed girl. He never rested until his payment transfer was successful. He donated handsomely. Indeed, in the words of Abubakar, the first Caliph, “Taking pains to remove the pains of others is the true essence of generosity” Without mincing words, Waheed Bakare contributed in removing the pains of others. He was indeed a generous person.
Waheed Bakare did not stop after his donation; he was also a strong advocate of crowdfunding for the benefits of others. In his words when I initiated the crowdfunding, he said: “This should not be a one-off thing please.” Five months after he uttered the statement, Waheed never had any premonition that his journey on the path of humanity would be terminated so soon.
Succinctly put, the fourth Caliph, Ali bn Abi Talib said: “Days are the pages of life, so make them eternal with your best deeds.” Waheed had paid his dues on the path of goodness to his creator and fellow human beings. Despite the great pains his exit has caused us in the last day of the month of forgiveness, mercy, blessings and period of Eid-il-Fitr celebration, one is hopeful and prayerful that Allah’s mercy will be on his soul and Jannatul Firdaws will be his final abode. For, “Allah is with the doers of goods.” Q29:69.
Finally, as advocated by Waheed himself, part of my tribute to him is the need to use the same crowdfunding strategy to mobilise fund for his immediate family (wife and children) in order to soothe their pains and reposition the family’s economic sustainability and human capital development. As a suggestion, if the funding strategy is efficiently handled, may be by his immediate constituency – the Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), I believe, a reasonable millions of naira could be realised within a short time to wipe the tears of the family Waheed Bakare left behind. In the words of William Shakespeare in As You Like It, “Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.” Indeed, those that have genuine love for Waheed Bakare, this is the time to rise and do something tangible for his family. Albert Einstein once said “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” Let the friends and colleagues of Waheed add values to the friendship we had with him even after his demise. For, Hilary Hinto, popularly known as Zig Ziglar said “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Therefore, let us use crowdfunding to humanise his family. Crowdfunding is a cost-effective and impactful strategy of raising fund within a short period for an urgent and time bound challenge or event. I will end my tribute with the summary statements of the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Ogun State, Alhaji Shuaib Afolabi Salis (SAS), on the crowdfunding I used which Waheed participated. SAS said: “Before we shut down the platform, permit me to share the lessons this exercise has further reinforced in me. 1) Muslims are responsive and do donate to a worthy cause, contrary to self-denigrating narrative we like to parrot about ourselves. 2) The response is directly proportional to the credibility and social capital of the anchor. 3) Break any problem down to smaller bits, it is easier to chew the bits and solve the problem in no time. 4) Eniyan l’asomi – Build and network that you can always tap into, whenever there is need. The young lady did, our brother, Abdullah, just demonstrated it. 5) Don’t hide the finger that hurts you and keep lamenting. Share the problem appropriately and the help may be on the way. Less than 24 hours ago, the target was “oversubscribed” by 50%. These principles are applicable to not only raising N500K but any other project. I wish some of our numerous WhatsApp platforms will do less with copying and forwarding over circulated and irrelevant posts and use social media for more meaningful engagements. Lastly, I thank my friend, Abdullah Shuaib, PhD, for the initiative and the window he offered to us to be part of this commendable effort. May Allah reward us with the best of our intentions.”
Dr Abdullahi Shuaib, CEO, Jaiz Charity and Development Foundation, Abuja