Charity is not an offence, because it is not illegal in any part of the world. Those who engage in charitable acts and prioritise philanthropism as a selfless act do so because of their inherent conviction that humanity can only be better served when everyone learns to share with others from what God has endowed them with.
That is the reason why advanced nations like the United States exempt not-for-profit and charity organisations from paying certain taxes and levies. All these are done in recognition of the significant role they play in society. Hence philanthropists are revered and adored, the likes of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates readily comes to mind.
However, when, instead of appraising the devotion of the very few among us who give freely and cheerfully, we begin to overly dissect their intentions and even subject their every act of kindness to needless interrogation; then we begin to set a dangerous precedent that would ultimately be to the detriment of our community.
An example that rings a bell is Saliu Mustapha. Anyone familiar with the terrain in Kwara, and most especially Ilorin, the State capital, knows that the name ‘Saliu Mustapha‘ is synonymous to philanthropy. As far back as 2007, this man had set up a Foundation to cater to the needs of the people, especially the widow and the underprivileged young people.
Saliu did not go into politics because of his philanthropy rather it was because of his philanthropy that he was dragged into politics. Consistently, he keeps doing his best to better the lives of as many people as possible, without any political undercurrent.
For those who know, and there are many, Saliu Mustapha’s philanthropy is not spontaneous, it is something that has a verifiable history dating back to close to two decades. Not being someone given to excessive and ostentatious politics, Mustapha’s is one that focuses squarely on impacting lives and sustainable empowerment that sees to the socio-economic emancipation of our people.
For more than four election circles that he has been around actively in Kwara politics and participating in the socio-political fabrics of Kwara state, Saliu Mustapha did hold any state position, but he has been consistent in providing succour to the needy through his Saliu Mustapha Foundation and even as an individual. It is very obvious that if he was not standing as a candidate in the 2023 elections, it wouldn’t have made any difference to his philanthropic interventions, seeing that what is more important to him is not what political benefits he received in return for his generosity towards the people, but rather how our community is elevated and our people live a better life.
Like everything else, politics has a time and a season, but the impact of what we do, especially during the campaigns and election season, may last a lifetime. This is why we must be careful to not play politics with the genuine desire and willingness of individuals whom Allah has elevated and who, in turn, have the heart to help others.
The danger of politicising and criminalising the efforts of these public spirited individuals who freely give of their wealth is grave because it may then lead many to now shy away from discharging their social responsibilities to the people just to avoid being blackmailed. It is important that we don’t deny our people the much needed support because of our penchant to play politics with everything.