Have Nigerian Muslims ever wondered why, despite the fact that the relationship between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia dates back over one thousand years, the Arabian Kingdom does not have major business concerns or companies in Nigeria and vice versa? The LCM Consulting Nig. Ltd, who is the only advisor on Islamic products in the Capital market says it is about to change all that as it is organizing a one- month business related Arabic tour for a Muslim business class to the Holy land. The Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Mohammad Lawal Shuaibu, at a Business/Empowerment Stakeholders meeting in Abuja, said the aim is to enable Nigerian Muslims gain their place in Halal business, not only in the Saudi Kingdom but in the Middle East and North Africa. Jamila Nuhu Musa was there.
Stories are told of how our forefathers once traveled by road to Mecca to perform hajj. A website, Distancesfrom.com estimates that by road, you could cover 10049Km from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia notwithstanding the road and weather conditions, Travel Time: 8822 Minutes – 147 hour(s) 2 minutes(s) It is assumed that Nigerian Muslim pilgrims covered this distance or more in several days to fulfill the Islamic injunction in those days, sometimes they took time to buy few things to be sold back home or give out as gifts. Now, Muslims could fly in few hours from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia mainly to perform Umrah or Hajj, still, not many thoughts are given to business initiatives for Hallal investments in the Saudi Kingdom for instance, establishing Halal companies like other countries have done in the holy land or initiating Halal businesses in Nigeria to enhance Islamic financing activities in the country.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive officer of LCM Consulting, Mohammad Lawal Shuaibu said it is not the fault of the Saudis that there isn’t pronounced presence of Nigerians there, blazing the trail in Halal business, it’s because Nigerian Muslims are not looking at every direction of Halal aside performing hajj.
So, LCM Consulting Nig. Ltd in collaboration with the Institute of Research and Consulting Studies, Islamic University Madina, in Saudi Arabia, is organizing a one month intensive business, networking, cultural, language and Umrah tour to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the Muslim Business class of about 30 people to begin with.
Shuaibu observed that already enabling environment to carry out variety of such businesses exist in the Holy land what is needed is their exploration especially as 70% of the world’s wealth is in the Middle East and North Africa with Saudi Arabia being largest economy in the region.
Perhaps, it is the reason Brazil and Australia export meat to Saudi Arabia for the consumption of people in the Islamic nation. Similarly, the Ihram, (white cotton robe) worn by the Muslim faithful during the pilgrimage are provided mostly by Chinese companies and other non- Muslim outfits who smile to the bank yearly.
“Brazil and Australia now export meat to Saudi Arabia. Nigeria is not in the business of creating Halal businesses. We hear of Sheraton Halal , Hilton Halal, Herbal Halal etc but it is non Muslim countries that are blazing the trail in these businesses”, said Shuaibu.
The same goes for businesses in other sectors of the Saudi economy like education where it is common to see Pakistan and Lebanon making waves, leaving out Nigeria. The point being made is, Nigerian Muslims are not taking advantage of business opportunities in the Kingdom, thus, the need to target the Muslim business class made up of entrepreneurs and CEOs of companies, investor seekers, senior oil and gas executives and other individuals who will be given the opportunity to explore the resources in the Arab country.
“The whole world is keying into Halal business but Nigeria is left behind especially the Muslims, who emphasize more on the religious aspect than business initiatives. That is why other countries have left us behind in this regard, said Shuaibu.
“In Saudi Arabia there are Pakistan schools, Lebanese schools but Nigerians do not invest in education like these countries and there are Nigerian residents in Saudi Arabia, whose children go to these schools.
“Why is Nigeria not there and what does this mean? It means there are opportunities which Nigerian Muslims must exploit. It is now time for Nigerian Muslims to move into Halal businesses devoid of alcohol, pornography etc. There are other Halal businesses that you could create including agriculture, education, healthcare, SMEs,
“Apart from exposing the business class to the resources in Saudi during the Tour, members are expected to improve their spoken Arabic language, enhance their cultural integration, network while also performing lesser hajj, all at the estimated cost of N768, 750.00 per participant comprising tuition, accommodation and feeding, local trips within Madina, Umrah to Makkah, air ticket from Abuja, Madina to Abuja, networking dinners with Saudi business men, and charity activities”.
He disclosed that LCM Consulting Nigeria Limited, equally signed an agreement with Africa Islamic Economic Foundation, (AFRIEF) based in Tamale, Republic of Ghana, while its President and Chief Executive Officer, Baba Yunus Mohammad of Ghana, said the two organizations will collaborate and work for the overall development of the Halal industry in Africa.
Shuaibu said when the Consulting firm came on board it realized that the cost of doing Islamic business in Africa was high especially in terms of bringing in expertise so it took the decision to play the role of advisor on Islamic products in the Capital market hence, the program, to reach out to Islamic communities in Nigeria so that Muslims interested in Halal products can add more weight to their businesses. However, they must have businesses which are investor takers. He said even if the business class did not strike some deals immediately in Saudi Arabia, it would make tremendous impact on the Nigerian economy when it comes back to the country and strategises on establishing Halal businesses and consequently create jobs for the teaming youths in the north thereby curbing restiveness in the region. He expressed optimism that when northern youths are involved in Halal businesses they would be less inclined towards violence and other forms of terrorism. He also said “our daughters and wives should explore opportunities of Halal business”.
Though it is subject to further ratification, the Consulting firm disclosed that the tour is scheduled for December 15, 2014 to January 15, 2015 while it hopes to plan a National Halal Business as well as a World Halal Business programs to be held in Nigeria in the near future, Shuaibu revealed and solicited for support of Nigerians, especially Muslims towards actualization of promoting Halal projects.
Some participants at the meeting commended the firm for its foresight but observed that most Nigerian businessmen and women (not only Muslims), though they do not like taking risks, expect high returns on investments and this poses a challenge to commercial activities no matter how laudable. They also lack adequate funds and facilities like electricity to enhance their activities, and lack access to coorporative bodies that would strengthen their businesses.
They enjoined the consulting firm to do their homework thoroughly to avoid any setback so that they can make a breakthrough during the tour and encourage Saudi business moguls that may wish to take up the challenge to invest in Nigeria.
LCM Lonsultmg N1ger1a Limited was established. by seasoned professionals who have spent various years in Banking, Public Sector, Financial Auditing, Mass Media and other relevant areas of human endeavors in the contemporary society. The company is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to perform the Corporate Investment Advisory Function and also duly registered with Centre for Management Development (CMD) to perform the Consultancy Function in Nigeria and indeed West Africa. LCM is in strategic partnership with both Local and International Corporate Institutions to provide World Class Consulting Services to all Segments of businesses towards enhancing the global economy. With a Share Capital of N20m fully paid, LCM is properly positioned to handle jobs of international standard.