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NCC: Digitally boosting President Buhari’s Next Level Agenda

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NCC EVC Profile Picture

Henry Nkemadu

On June 12, Nigeria will be celebrating “Democracy Day” and 21 years of uninterrupted democratic rule.

And the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) riding on its mandate to connect Nigeria and create an information rich society remains on the driver’s seat.

Provision of the necessary digital impetus to the actualization of the economic diversification of Mr. President, tailored towards a free market economy which is not tied to oil and gas is on NCC’s priority list.

This push is in tandem with the administration’s “Next Level Agenda” as it enters its fifth year in this long democratic race.

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During President Buhari’s first term, the NCC positioned telecoms as the baseline enabler for the realization of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 of the government, which is a short-term economic blue print designed to drive the economic diversification agenda of the government.

Through deliberate and sustained efforts in driving major initiatives, programmes and necessary regulatory interventions, the NCC has been able to deepen access to telecommunications services- voice and data – across the country which has helped in positively impacting other sectors of the economy such as healthcare, education, agriculture, finance, transportation, commerce, governance, and so on.

NCC: A believer in Buhari’s economic agenda

The Executive Vice-chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, is consistently supporting the economic agenda of President Buhari through the provision of more digital access to individuals, corporate and government for the implementation of the agenda has been validated by available official data.

The Telecoms sector has witnessed huge growth in terms of the subscribers’ base, earnings to the government, increase in gross domestic product (GDP), teledensity and increase in foreign direct investments into the sector.

Today, the sector has contributed 14.07% to GDP.

Active mobile voice subscribers have increased to over 189 million with a teledensity of 99.16%.

Internet subscribers have increased from 128,365,704 to 136,203,231; broadband penetration increased from 38.49 % (indicating 73,466,093 on 3G and 4G networks) to 39.90 % (76,163,670 on 3G and 4G networks).

The Commission has committed millions of Naira to driving ICT innovations in the academia and among technology innovators.

We have also activated and increased the number of operational Emergency Commission Centres (ECCs) being built by the Commission to 17 states throughout the Federation and the Federal Capital (FCT), Abuja – 18 ECCs in all.

We have successfully scrubbed over 24 million invalidly-registered subscriber records via Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) in fulfillment of the mandate to establish a credible database of telephone subscribers.

Pantami not responsible for NIDCOM’s withdrawal from office complex–NCC

NCC suspends spectrum trading guidelines 2018

As a Commission, we have recently taken measures to regularize activities of all satellite operators including Space Station Operators as well as Earth Station operators; issuance of landing permits to Space Stations beaming signals over Nigerian territory.

In line with our regulatory excellence, we have now put the Communications and Digital Economy Complex, Jabi, Abuja to use. This move has helped to leverage the various world-class facilities within the complex to increase NCC’s overall operational efficiency and subsequently achieve better cost-cutting measures in line with the Federal Government’s directive.

Also, because of its huge impact on the nation’s GDP, developing broadband infrastructure to deepen penetration among individual and corporate consumers of telecoms services has been the focus of the Commission.

Based on the understanding by the Commission that telecommunications breaks barrier and can act in its own right as an enabler of socio-economic transformation, growth and modernization across all sectors of the economy, the NCC Management has deliberately embarked on initiatives, serving as digital fulcrum and catalyst that propel the inter-sectoral implementation of the socio-economic transformation agenda of the current government.

One of such initiatives is the licensing of infrastructure companies (InfraCos) to provide additional robust broadband infrastructure across the geo-political zones in the country.

Six of the InfraCo licenses have been issued to five geo-political zones and Lagos carved out as the sixth zone because of its commercial centrality, while the last and seventh license for the North Central region is being worked on by the Commission.

This is in addition to several other strategic initiatives being embarked upon by the NCC to address sundry challenges confronting telecoms infrastructure deployment by the existing licensees.

Digital impetus for Next Level Agenda

To sustain its forward-looking economic growth agenda, President Muhammadu Buhari, has restated commitment to the cause of advancing and consolidating on the gains of his first-term economic transformation agenda.

To this end, the President has tagged economic blueprint for his second term as the Next Level agenda.

A cursory look at the Next Level agenda shows that the President, in the current dispensation, aims to focus on improving security, improving the economy and reducing poverty; as well as fighting corruption and corrupt practices.

Speaking on the Next Level agenda recently, the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, said he would ensure that all agencies under his ministry including the NCC key into supporting the President in achieving his new agenda.

Nigeria recently launched a New National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) aimed to “deliver data download speeds across Nigeria at a minimum speed of 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (2% of median income or 1% of minimum wage)”.

During the presentation by the Committee on the NNBP (2020-2025), the Minister, Pantami, said: “The NNBP addresses 3 of the 8 priorities that the Federal Government assigned to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and the parastatals under its purview, for implementation.

“These priorities are the implementation of broadband connectivity and execution of a plan to deploy 4G across the country, as well as the development and implementation of a digital economy policy and strategy”.

We didn’t evict Diaspora Commission from our building–NCC

We have not issued any 5G licenses–NCC

The Minister continues, “The development of a Broadband Plan aligns with global best practice and the constitution of the Committee is in line with the powers of the Minister as stated in Section 23(a) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003- the Minister shall be responsible for ‘the formulation, determination and monitoring of the general policy for the communications sector in Nigeria with a view to ensuring, amongst others, the utilization of the sector as a platform for the economic and social development of Nigeria”.

“…Broadband supports the development of the digital economy and a focus on growing the National Digital Economy will also improve and diversify the nation’s traditional economy.

“The implementation of the Plan will lead to creation of jobs, improved socio-economic development and sustained economic growth, amongst others.

“However, it is important to note that the successful implementation of the Plan requires synergy between government and the private sector”.

According to him, “telecoms has been supporting the country in the areas of job creation, improvement in security and efficiency as well as in making life easier and better for Nigerians, charging the NCC leadership “to continue in this direction and as any individual agenda will are bringing onboard must have direct bearing toward supporting the promises of President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed in his promise to Nigerians.”

Thus, the Minister has thrown his weight behind the NCC’s InfraCo project in what he described as the correlation it has to propel the attainment of the Next Level agenda through accelerating increased digital access to Nigerians across the country.

In the Next Level agenda, emphasis is placed on infrastructure with the critical ones being roads, rail, power, and the Internet, marked to be treated as ‘critical infrastructure’ and according to the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC)/Chief Executive, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, globally telecommunications has become an essential factor for measuring the level of a nation’s socio-economic and political development.

He noted that countries with well-developed telecoms infrastructure tend to outshine their counterparts without adequate telecoms infrastructure in all development parameters.

5G: Next digital revolution for Next Level agenda

Without any doubt, the liberalization of the telecoms industry has greatly impacted the different sectors of our economy.

From e-commerce, e-banking, e-agriculture, e-healthy, e-transportation, e-education, etc. the liberalization ushered in different players leveraging different technologies to offer services. The unprecedented growth recorded in the telecoms sector with a multiplier effect on other sectors of the economy has been as a result of the sound regulatory regime which has been consolidated in the last 19 years.

We have come up with a lot of frameworks, regulations, guidelines and policies that have provided and will continue to create the enabling environment for future of telecommunications growth in Nigeria.

The future is promising and as regulator, we see a lot of prospects ahead for the industry especially in the area of broadband penetration to accelerate the transformation of Nigeria into a truly knowledge and digital economy.

The future of telecommunications in Nigeria, just as it is the case globally, is broadband and the NCC is well positioned to drive this digital frontier.

In the last five years, we had put a lot of emphasis on deepening broadband penetration and we are creating an environment that allows operators to deploy the newest technologies that can offer Nigerians better service experience with greater efficiency. Consequently, it is our commitment to see that, going forward, all new sites to be built by mobile network operators (MNOs) are Long Term Evolution (LTE)-compatible; the implementation of the harmonized Right of Way (RoW) charges on State and Federal Government highways at the cost of N145 per linear meter is realized; there is elimination of multiple taxation and regulations; and spread of 3G coverage to, at least, 80 per cent of the Nigerian population over the current 56.4 per cent of the population covered with 3G networks.

We are also ensuring the upgrade of 2G base transceiver stations to 3G; spread of 4G/LTE services to 100 per cent of the population with a minimum broadband speed of 1.5 megabit per second (Mbps); deployment of, at least, an Access Point of fiber with a 10 gigabyte per second (Gbps) capacity in all the 774 local government areas (LGAs) of the Federation through the InfraCo project.

According to Danbatta, “with the impending commercial deployment of 5G technology globally by 2020, the Commission has started preparing for and planning, in earnest, to ensure Nigeria is not lagging behind in the area of 5G deployment”.

We want to ensure spread of Fifth Generation (5G) to, at least, five per cent of the population.

Already, the NCC in November, 2019 pioneered 5G trials in Nigeria, becoming the first telecoms regulator in West Africa to proactively begin such trials toward unleashing greater digital revolution.

We have also worked with stakeholders to develop guidelines on the use of Television White Space (TVWS) to extend affordable broadband penetration to underserved and unserved areas.

TVWS is the unused broadcast spectrum which can be deployed in the telecommunications sector to provide cost-effective broadband services to people in the rural, underserved and unserved areas of the country towards achieving universal access and universal service in line with the country’s digital agenda.

In summary, the future of telecommunications in Nigeria is incrementally bright as the Regulator is always proactive in providing the regulatory environment for the deployment of cutting-edge technologies to further push Nigeria ahead in the digital revolution.

The 5G era would be characterized by the upswing in the use of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Big data, Fifth Generation (5G), Augmented Reality and many more all of which will advance sustainable development through the digital transformation it will bring for the economies.

“With 5G, the NCC is looking at three (3) usage scenarios, which include: the enhanced mobile broadband applications, the ultra-reliable low latency applications and the Machine to Machine (M2M) applications.

“Hence, 5G will be characterized by high speed, M2M explosion and low latency, all of which will require reliable broadband infrastructure, which is one of the pre-occupations of the Commission as we speak,” the EVC said.

He has also noted that three frequencies: the 26GHz, 38GHz and 42 GHz are part of the frequencies approved by International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for 5G.

This, he said, is in addition to the Commission’s ongoing effort to leverage television white (TVWS) technology to expand affordable broadband services to rural, unserved and underserved areas of the country.

The Commission has conducted 5G Proof of Concept (PoC) Trials. The EVC explained that the whole idea behind the trial is to be able to see what the challenges are with regards to 5G deployments in Nigeria.

“Security challenges, level of radiation power density, whether this is within the acceptable limits provided for the International non-ionization radio Radiation Protection Agency as well as to address whatever challenges that we need to come to terms with preparatory to commercial rollout of 5G services in Nigeria.”

Role of infrastructure and spectrum to 5G

Danbatta has drawn correlation between 5G networks and effective telecoms infrastructure.

Expectedly, 5G will offer higher Internet speed and low latency and machine to machine (M2M) exposition, all of which will run on robust broadband infrastructure, which the Commission is currently driving and will ultimately support the digitisation of the Nigerian economy towards accelerating the actualization of the President’s Next Level agenda.

He said: “Without pervasive infrastructure, the dream of rollout of 5G services will remain what it is, just a dream.

“As such, Nigeria has put in place the InfraCo project for this purpose.

“Also, we have put in place an excellent initiative of spectrum trading, to allow efficient utilization of licensed and existing spectrum through leasing or transfer to other operators from a licensee instead of keeping such spectrum idle.”

Recently, the Commission suspended the Spectrum Trading Guidelines (2018) in order to carry out a review in response to global telecommunications dynamics and for more robust Spectrum trading activities. Paragraph 12 of Spectrum Trading Guides 2018 vests the Commission with the right to review/vary and modify the Guidelines from time to time as it may deem fit.

Telecoms Investment drive: Boosting the Next Level Agenda

Telecom, as an enabler for other sectors of the economy, is highly capital-intensive.

As such, Danbatta said the support of the President is very key in support of the Commission’s efforts at addressing various challenges inhibiting investment into the country’s telecoms sector.

“Yes, we have recorded major milestones in our telecoms sector.

“But are we satisfied as a Regulator? The answer is ‘No’.

“This is because we still face inadequate infrastructure.” Consequently, the NCC had identified 220 clusters of access gaps in the country and the real challenge behind connecting this large population of about 40 million is infrastructure deficit.

This informs why the NCC evolved the InfraCo project with Public Private Partnership component embedded in it.

In a recent update study carried out in 2019, the number of people living in the unserved and underserved areas was estimated to have dropped to 31.16 million and number of clusters reviewed down to 114.

Meanwhile, the EVC has assured that the Commission is committed to providing the enabling environment to attract the needed investment to expand 5G deployment while ensuring efficiency of existing technologies from 2G, to 3G and 4G towards providing the needed consistent digital impetus to the realization of the Next Level Agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Dr. Henry NKEMADU is a Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) 

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Opinion

Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Cities: It’s housing and more

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By Abdulaziz Abdulaziz

 

Penultimate Thursday at Karsana, a suburb of Abuja, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the pilot phase of his ambitious housing project tagged Renewed Hope Cities and Estates Development Programme. Under the first phase of the scheme, 50,000 units of houses are planned to be delivered to Nigerians across the 36 states and the FCT by the end of 2024. Aside the site for the 3,112 which is opened, similar construction sites are active in 12 states around the nation. Subsequently more sites will be activated for the simultaneous mass housing project across the country.

The intention, as the President himself said at the groundbreaking ceremony, is to turn Nigeria into a large construction site with the attendant massive job creation and wealth redistribution. This ambitious project would certainly place the Tinubu administration in a prime spot when the history of mass housing in Nigeria is written.

Formal intervention in the housing sector in Nigeria has a long history dating back to the outbreak of the bubonic plaque in Lagos in 1928.Moving forward, the entire official development plan documents in Nigeria, including the four National Development Plans (1962-1984), had recognized the need for increasing the housing stock in Nigeria, as well as, the need for affordable houses. Despite the work at the policy level, Nigeria has continued to face a significant housing deficit, with millions of its citizens lacking adequate and affordable housing. By 2018 the housing deficit was estimated to be about 17-20 million units. While this deficit poses serious social problem, it also hampers economic development and gets complicated with every passing day (read, every birth!).

It is with this realisation that the then APC candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu laid out his vision for the mortgage and housing sector in his elaborate campaign manifesto. The concept is hinged on his longstanding understanding of the economic development and social justice nexus of housing development.

President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope City housing projects offers a tangible step at building dynamic, integrated, and self-sustaining communities, equipped with amenities to enhance the quality of living for residents, especially the targeted low-income earners.

Speaking on the determination of his administration to ensure that Nigeria’s housing deficit is bridged, the President said he is determined to face the housing challenge bedeviling the nation with the boldness and urgency that it requires.

“We aim to promote Public Private Partnership (PPP) collaborations that attract domestic, foreign, and diaspora investments. We also aim to design and implement incentive schemes, boost our capital market while enhancing the governance and risk management frameworks to ensure their stability, transparency and integrity.

“We are resolved to facing the housing challenge with the clarity of purpose and determination that is required to break all the barriers that stand in our way of success. That is why I took the historic decision of separating the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development from Works so it can be fully aligned towards tackling the nation’s massive housing problem. That is also why I have appointed experienced professionals with proven track records of delivering in the housing sector to lead the Ministry,” President Tinubu had said.

These low-cost urban housing projects offer a promising solution to address both the housing shortage and stimulate economic growth. While providing affordable housing options, these projects are creating jobs, enhancing living standards, and hold the potential to catalyze economic activities nationwide.

Development economists say low-cost urban housing projects have the potential to stimulate economic growth through multiple channels. Firstly, by increasing access to affordable housing, these projects enhance household welfare and disposable income. When families spend less on housing, they have more resources to allocate towards education, healthcare, and other essential needs, thereby contributing to poverty reduction and human capital development. Moreover, improved housing conditions lead to better health outcomes, reducing healthcare costs and boosting productivity.

One of the significant benefits of low-cost urban housing projects is their potential to generate employment opportunities. The construction sector is a major driver of employment and economic growth in many countries. By investing in housing projects, Nigeria can create jobs across various stages of the construction value chain, including design, engineering, manufacturing, and site management. Moreover, these projects require skilled and unskilled labor, offering employment opportunities to a diverse workforce. The multiplier effect of job creation in the construction sector extends to other industries, such

as manufacturing, transportation, and retail, further stimulating economic activity. The project designers estimated that every single house will provide 25 direct and indirect jobs. So, the 20,000 housing units planned for the Federal Capital Territory alone will create 500,000 jobs.

These Renewed Hope Cities initiative present a viable strategy to address Nigeria’s housing deficit. These projects focus on providing affordable housing solutions that cater to the needs of low-income earners. By leveraging innovative construction techniques, cost-effective materials, and sustainable designs, these projects aim to deliver quality housing at affordable prices. Moreover, they will foster inclusive development, ensuring that those in the lower wrung of the social cadre, especially workers across Nigeria have access to decent housing options.

The initiative is also attracting private investment and will spur real estate development. As the demand for housing grows, developers and investors are incentivized to participate in the market, leading to increased construction activity and property transactions. This influx of investment not only creates jobs but also stimulates demand for ancillary goods and services, such as furniture, appliances, and utilities. Additionally, improved infrastructure associated with housing projects, such as roads, water supply, and sanitation facilities, enhances the overall urban environment and attracts further investment.

Closing the housing deficit in Nigeria and stimulating economic growth through the Renewed Hope City housing project is a major tick in President Tinubu’s wish list and campaign promises. But like all big ticket projects, filling the gaping hole in our housing need is a multifaceted endeavor that requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders, especially mortgage institutions and developers

President Tinubu has taken a big leap in this regard and with innovation, collaboration, sustained commitment, right policies and investments, Nigeria will unlock the full potential of low-cost urban housing projects to build a more prosperous and inclusive society.

 

Abdulaziz, Senior Special Assistant to President Tinubu on Print Media, writes from Abuja.

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Opinion

N24 billion Hajj subsidy: The facts behind the twisted story

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Hajj

By Ibrahim Muhammed

 

“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”
― Criss Jami

Curiosity got a better part of me after reading a story published by Punch Newspaper titled “NAHCON Denies 24 billion Naira Hajj Subsidy”

I immediately began to make inquiries to know the facts behind the obvious sentiment-induced headlines. First, the newspapers deliberately take advantage of people’s malaise by reading full stories with such a screaming headline about the Federal Government approving N24 Billion to Nigeria Muslim Pilgrims for Hajj.

First and as buried inside the Punch Story, the approval is a payment meant to settle 2023 Hajj Airlifts liabilities. It is not a Hajj subsidy but rather an outstanding payment to 2023 Hajj Air carriers due to differentials in the exchange rate approved when the airlift contract was signed and when the last trench of payment was due.

Before the 2023 Hajj, The Federal Government had approved an exchange rate of N460 to a dollar for Nigerian pilgrims. The 2023 Hajj fare including the Air ticket was then computed based on the approved exchange rate. When it was time for payment of airfare to airliners, the exchange rate rose to N750 to a dollar after the Government floated the forex. The then CBN Governor refused to pay the airliners because the dollar had increased to N750 to a dollar as against the N460 to a dollar earlier approved before the 2023 hajj.

The question is this: who is to settle the airliner’s differences because the 2023 hajj pilgrims had paid their Hajj fare based on a government-approved exchange rate and had returned home after performing the hajj?

The then NAHCON board had insisted that CBN should honor the discount and fill in the gaps. It is an issue that has been in the public domain. The airlines’ money kept hanging for long. After a series of arguments and reconciliation, this present administration accepts to pay the airliners the dollar equivalent of what is obtained in their contractual agreement with NAHCON before 2023 hajj.

It is important to understand that Nigerian Hajj Pilgrims have paid for the naira equivalent then. So, what is the underlying motive behind the screaming headline that the Government of President Ahmed Tinubu has approved the sum of N24 Billion naira for Nigeria’s Hajj pilgrims? The said N24 Billion is the differential between the approved dollar rate then and the current dollar rates.

Commendably, Tinubu’s government was magnanimous in settling the former agreement that was entered before the commencement of the 2023 Hajj. Leaking Government documents to activate religious sentiments and biases will serve no one good.

The newspaper reports also said NAHCON denied the approval which is another issue of twisted story. It reported that the Deputy Director said he was not aware of such information and that the Chairman of NAHCON will address the press on the issue. That is not a denial by NAHCON.

We should be wary of half-truths and twisted stories.

Muhammed is the
National Coordinator
Independent Hajj Reporters
08037024356.

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Opinion

Friday Sermon: Islam, Christianity strongly denounced same-sex relationship, bisexuality!

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Imam Murtadha Gusau

 

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

 

All Praise is due to Allah, We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our own evils and our own bad deeds. Anyone who is guided by Allah is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His servant and His Messenger.

 

Dear brothers and sisters! Islam’s teaching about homosexuality is referred to in a story found in the Qur’an. This is the story of the Prophet Lut (may Allah’s peace be upon him), who criticised the men of his town for their homosexual practices. Allah the Almighty stated:

 

“And remember Lot (Lut) when he said to his people: ‘Do you commit the worst sin such as none before you have committed among creation? Indeed, you practise your lusts on men instead of women. Nay, but you are a people transgressing beyond bounds.’” [Qur’an, 7:80-81]

 

Some people today (who engage in, or justify same-sex relationships) have tried to claim that the prohibition (in the Qur’anic verse above) refers to non-consensual sex between homosexuals. Others assert it refers to homosexual relationships outside of marriage. Both of these views clearly contradict this Qur’anic verse because Allah the Almighty stated:

 

“Indeed, you practise your lusts on men instead of women.”

 

If the Qur’anic verse was referring to homosexual rape (or non-consensual sex), then that is equally forbidden against women. However, Allah the Almighty (in this Qur’anic verse) allowed sex between heterosexuals (and within marriage). Also, if the verse was only forbidding homosexuality outside of marriage, then sex between a man and woman before marriage is forbidden so why would Allah the Almighty say:

 

“instead of women”?

 

Therefore, the only authentic and correct conclusion that can be drawn from this Qur’anic verse is that sexual relationships between people of the same sex are prohibited.

 

Furthermore, arbitrarily changing one’s gender from male to female (or vice-versa) does not alter the reality of the prohibition because there is a principle in Islam that states:

 

“Changing the name of something does not change its reality.”

 

So changing the name of alcohol to milk does not alter its reality nor the ruling of prohibition.

 

Allah the Most High also said:

 

“You come to the men of creation and you leave those wives whom Allah has created for you? Nay! You are a transgressing people.” [Qur’an, 26: 165-166]

 

Abdullah Ibn Abbas narrated that Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) stated:

 

“The curse of Allah is upon the one who engages in the act of the People of Lut (sodomy). The curse of Allah is upon the one who engages in the act of the People of Lut. The curse of Allah is upon the one who engages in the act of the People of Lut.” [Reported by Ahmad and graded sahih by Ahmad Shakir; see As-Silsilatus-Sahihah of Sheikh Al-Albani, who graded it authentic]

 

Jabir Ibn Abdullah narrated that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

 

“What I fear most for my followers (my ummah) is the act of the People of Lut (i.e., sodomy).” [At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, and graded as hasan by Sheikh Al-Albani]

 

When the people ignored the Prophet Lut’s message, Allah destroyed the town and every transgressor in it, and He saved Prophet Lut (Peace be upon him) and his daughters. This event is a sign for the people who reflect. This story is also mentioned in the scriptures of the Jews and Christians.

 

Respected brothers and sisters! Muslim scholars throughout the history have taken this story to mean that Allah has prohibited homosexuality absolutely, i.e. courtship and sexual relationships between men. Muslims see homosexuality as an unnatural condition, an immoral inclination, even a mental illness which is dangerous for the individual and society in terms of its goodness and morality. Islam teaches that a Muslim cannot be pious and obedient to Allah and be a practising homosexual; the two states are incompatible. However, Muslim doctrine (Aqidah) does not remove from the fold of Islam the one who practices the major sin of homosexuality.

 

Imam Shaikh Ibn Baz (may Allah have mercy on him) was informed that some youth display signs of feminine behaviour. He advised that they should spend time with men until they learn (to be masculine) and they benefit from that, and the feminine inclination passes. He was also asked concerning the man who becomes a Muslim but before he embraced Islam he was a practising homosexual. Once he became a Muslim, he repented from that sinful un-Islamic behaviour. However, his soul desires homosexuality. Shaikh Ibn Baz answered by saying:

 

“He should cling to his repentance and all praise is for Allah.” [See Sharh Bulugh Al-Maram, Kitab Al-Hudud]

 

Clinging to repentance means: to give up the sin, feel remorse for disobeying Allah, seek Allah’s forgiveness and be resolute in not returning back to the sin.

 

Dear servants of Allah! Today some people think that a person can be born homosexual – and through this, they justify their sexual leanings. However, Islam teaches that every child is born upon the fitrah, a natural inclination, which means that they were created with inclinations that Allah is pleased with for human beings and fulfil the natural functions of the body. With that in mind, Muslim scholars state that homosexuality comes about due to a corruption of the natural state which can be triggered by various events and environmental factors such as:

 

1. The way they are brought up with the idea that there is no difference between the two sexes.

 

2. Being exposed to homosexuality constantly so it becomes normalised.

 

3. Being nurtured on theories and ideas that oppose science, nature and the intellect (e.g. two people of the same sex were not physiologically “designed” to have sexual relations or produce offspring).

 

4. Being sexually abused as children can lead to confused ideas about sexuality and sexual preferences.

 

5. School indoctrination of children from an early age that goes against nature, health and wellbeing.

 

6. Relentlessly encouraged from a young age to explore same-sex relationships and “gay” role-play in schools.

 

7. Ostracising and seeking to criminalise all forms of dissent against the powerful LGBTQ movement in the West.

 

8. Muslim scholars state that just as people have ‘learned’ to be homosexual, they can also learn not to be if they choose to correct their behaviour and are helped in that process; and therefore, they return back to their natural state of being, or at least desist from homosexual activity if they are not able to be heterosexual.

 

The Qur’an does not say how homosexuality should be punished, but a saying of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) makes clear:

 

“Whoever you find engaging in the action of the people of Lut (sodomy), execute the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.” [Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi]

 

And mind you, this Hadith must not be used by individuals as an excuse to enact or incite violence against homosexuals and lesbians, or to take laws into their own hands.

 

Prescribed punishments for homosexuality and lesbianism can only be carried out by the legal authority in a country or state that practices shari’ah or Islamic Law; and there must be clear evidence that actual sex had taken place. The Muslim penal code carries out punishments on the basis of the unlawful act that is committed and not on the basis of a person’s inclinations where no illegal act has been committed.

 

This is the view of all of the famous Islamic scholars and jurists (Fuqaha) of Islam in line with the punishment dealt to the people of Lut (in the Qur’an) and the Hadith of the Prophet (Peace be upon him).

 

A Muslim, regardless of which state or country he lives in, is not allowed to physically harm those he regards to be sinners, nor incite others to do so. Vigilantism goes against Islamic teachings because it creates an anarchic, unjust and disorderly society.

 

Dear brothers and sisters! Today there are homosexuals and lesbians who consider themselves to be Muslims, and they know they are sinners in the sight of Allah just as there are some Muslims who fornicate, steal, lie and deal in usury. They recognise their sins. These sins are not considered unbelief (Kufr) that exit Muslims from the fold of Islam; but they are major sinners under the threat of Allah’s punishment as purification for their crimes.

 

Dear servants of Allah! Homosexuality and lesbianism is illegal in virtually every Muslim country in the world with punishments ranging from fines and prison to corporal punishment and execution. There are over 75 countries across the world, Muslim and non-Muslim, that consider homosexuality and lesbianism to be a criminal offence.

 

The Bible (Old Testament) is followed by millions of Jews and Christians in the world, and it too forbids men from having sexual relations with men. Chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus list prohibited forms of intercourse:

 

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Chapter 18 verse 22 said:

 

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” Chapter 20 verse 13

 

Deuteronomy 22:5 states:

 

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord, your God, detests anyone who does this.”

 

This is a clear prohibition of cross-dressing.

 

The New Testament (Bible) also condemns homosexual practices. Romans 1:26-27 states:

 

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

 

Paul wrote in the First Epistle to the Corinthians 6:9-11 states:

 

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men; nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were.”

 

The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.

 

In recent times organisations and groups have been established to give support to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender (etc) Muslims. These groups do not see their homosexuality as being wrong; they claim they were born gay, lesbian or trans etc. Furthermore, they do not believe that Allah’s prohibition in the Qur’an and Sunnah is applicable in these times; or they believe that these texts do not apply to people who “are in love.”

 

However, Muslims (almost as a whole) regard homosexuality and lesbianism to be sinful based upon the clear textual proofs of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the consensus (ijma’) of the first three generations after the Prophet, the agreement of the Four well-known Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence and in accordance with the view of the Sunni scholars spanning more than 1,445 years of Islamic history.

 

Islam teaches that Muslims must obey Allah by doing what he has commanded and by keeping away from what he has prohibited.

 

A Muslim who legalises (makes permissible) what is clearly forbidden in the Revealed Texts (Qur’an and Sunnah) such as making lawful fornication, drinking alcohol, gambling, homosexuality or lesbianism, then that person has left the fold of Islam. They are no longer Muslims.

 

However, Muslims who commit major sins (less than idolatry) such as fornication, robbery, homosexuality or lesbianism whilst affirming their transgression against Allah’s Law and affirming their sin, they remain within the Religion, albeit with weakness in their faith (Iman). These people are threatened by Allah’s punishment in the Hereafter unless they repent from their sins. And if they enter the Fire, they will not remain in it eternally.

 

Respected brothers and sisters! Muslims who find they are afflicted with temptations or unnatural desires must learn to resist, turn to Allah, supplicate to Him for strength and guidance (and get married). They must pray their five daily prayers, pay the Zakah and fast the month of Ramadan, etc. They should keep company with righteous people and keep their desires under control and eventually dominate over them.

 

Not every desire needs to be satisfied! A believer is commanded to keep his soul in check and his passions within the limits of Allah’s commands. We are living in difficult times where religiosity, morality, chastity and good conduct are actively discouraged, and immorality, foul behaviour, irreligious conduct, ill-manners, sexual depravity and lewdness are championed.

 

Nevertheless, a Muslim must remain pious, and remember that holding steadfastly to Islam, the Sunnah and Islamic morals and ethics in these times brings along with it a greater reward from Allah for the patient. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

 

“Know that which has passed you by was never going to befall you, and whatever has befallen you was never going to miss you. And know that victory comes with patience, relief comes after affliction and ease comes after hardship.” [Reported by Ahmad and others]

 

In reference to the times of hardship that were to come the Prophet (Peace be upon him) stated that:

 

“Ahead of you are days of patience, when holding onto the religion will be like holding onto hot coals, and whomsoever holds onto his religion in that time, then his reward will be the reward of fifty men.” The Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah, fifty times the worth of their reward?” He said, “Rather fifty from you.” [Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim who declared it authentic, Adh-Dhahabi agreed and Al-Albani declared it sahih in As-Sahihah]

 

Examples of commands from Allah the Almighty: Worship Allah alone, pray, fast, give zakah (obligatory charity), perform Hajj, be dutiful and kind to parents, give in charity, wear hijab, etc.

 

Examples of prohibitions from Allah the Almighty: Idolatry, interest (Riba), adultery, drinking alcohol, murder, stealing, sex before marriage, homosexuality, lesbianism etc.

 

A Muslim is commanded to encourage people with doing good actions and to advise them against doing things that Allah has forbidden. In this way, he follows the way of the Prophets.

 

Lastly, I pray:

 

Ya Allah, guide us with those whom You have guided, grant us well-being among those You have granted well-being, be an ally to us along with those whom You are an ally to, and bless what You have bestowed upon us, and save us from the evil of what You have decreed. For verily You decree and none can decree over You. He whom You support can never be humiliated. Glory is to You, our Lord, You are Blessed and Exalted.

 

Ya Allah, We ask You for all that is good, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know.

 

Ya Allah, we seek refuge with You from all evil, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know.

 

Ya Allah, we ask You for the good that Your servant and Prophet (Muhammad) has asked You for, and we seek refuge with You from the evil from which Your servant and Prophet (Muhammad) sought refuge.

 

Ya Allah, we ask You for Paradise and for that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed, and we seek refuge in You from Hell and from that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed. And we ask You to make every decree that You decree concerning us good.

 

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.

 

Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of: Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah Mosque; and Late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene Mosque, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusauimam@gmail.com; or +2348038289761.

 

This Friday sermon (Jumu’ah Khutbah) was delivered today Friday, 28 Rajab, 1445 AH (February 09, 2024).

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