Zakat Management in Nigeria: the Status Quo

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Considering the position of Nigeria as the 6th Muslim majority country of the world and the incidence of poverty in the country, existence of an effective zakat management is imperative. The amount of public fund that goes into the new zakat institutions also justifies study that provides necessary visibility about their activities. Accordingly, this paper reports the findings from the exploratory phase of a large scale research on zakat management covering the federal capital territory and 15states of Nigeria.
To achieve the major aim of describing the modes of zakat management in the country, the methodology counts on field interview, written documents and internet resources. From the study, it is evident that a nationwide zakat institution may not be suitable for Nigeria, a supervisory body will be necessary for uniformity in operation, Fatwa committee should be constituted to address technical issues and government should consider granting of tax relief to zakat payers.
Given the scope and objective of the current study, it should constitute a significant contribution to zakat management literature and also serve as guide to future researchers Keywords: Zakat management, Fatwa Committee, Tax Relief, Exploratory Phase INTRODUCTION It has long been acknowledged that Zakat institutions across the globe can benefit immensely if information on zakat management among Muslim countries can be effectively shared. There has been increased involvement of government and non-governmental agencies in the establishment of zakat institutions across Muslim and non-Muslim countries.
Countries with institutionalized zakat management organs include Saudi Arabia ,Pakistan, Libya, Sudan, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Indonesia, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, Malaysia, Brunei, Qatar, south Africa, Canada, and Nigeria . Despite the increasing efforts towards formal zakat institutions in respective countries, there is limited study on the activities of these institutions. Early studies on zakat management in selected countries includes (al-Khui, 1986; Azharuddin, 1988; Imtiazi, 1989; Abdullah, 1991;Mustapha, 1995; Faridi, 1995; Al-Ajeed, 1995; Balogun, 1999; Kafh, 2000 ).
Azharuddin, (1988) studied the role of Zakat in modern economy, using Bangladesh as a case of study while Al- Khui (1986) reviewed Libyan Act No 89 of 1971 which related to zakat management in that country. Mustapha (1987) and Ghazali (1991) discussed administration of zakat in Malaysia whereas al-Ajeel (1995) and Mohammed (1995) respectively studied operations of zakat in both Kuwait and Sudan. Kafh (2000) studied zakat management in Pakistan, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt while Balogun (1999) evaluated zakat collection and distribution in Nigeria.
Unlike other studies, the study by Balogun (1999) on zakat collection and distribution in Nigeria was conducted before the revival of formal zakat institution in 1999. Hence, it did not cover the operation of the newly established institutions. Formal zakat management in Nigeria commenced with the declaration of Islamic legal system in Zamfara State. Other states in the northern part of Nigeria embraced this initiative while a number of nongovernmental organizations also embarked on collection and distribution of zakat in the southwestern part of the country.
Zakat management experience in Nigeria has lasted for over a decade yet the incidence of poverty is on the increase despite the substantial amount of tax payers’ money is used to fund the operation of these institutions. Past studies on zakat management are either before the re-introduction of formal zakat institutions or are limited to a single institution (Kamaluddin, 1991; Abubakar, 1997; Balogun, 1999; Yusuf, 2002; Aliyu, 2002; Maidugu,2003), therefore, they are incapable of providing global view of zakat management in Nigeria. The current study that describes the operation of zakat nstitutions across the country should not only provide richer insight into zakat management practices in Nigeria but also contribute to existing body of knowledge on zakat management. PRIOR STUDIES ON ZAKAT MANAGEMENT IN NIGERIA Since it was intentionally frustrated by the white men, the re-introduction of formal zakat institution in Nigeria commenced in 1982 after the national conference on zakat held at Bayero University Kano but proper zakat collection did not start until 1987. Research interest in zakat management, however, began after almost a decade following the establishment of Kano State Islamic Council for zakat.
Early researchers on this subject were mainly from Economics (Kamaluddin, 1991; Balogun,1999; Wakawa, 1999) but, in recent times, there is increasing interest by researchers from accounting and management (Dogarawa, 2008; Dandago, 2010). The literature can be classified into conceptual (Dandago, 2010; Gidado, 2003; Maidugu, 2002; Dogarawa, 2008; Gusau, 2003) and empirical (Abubakar, 1997; Kamaluddin, 1991; Yusuf, 2002; Aliyu, 2002; Maidugu, 2003). Maidugu (2002) identifies various causes of poverty in Nigeria and discusses the potential of zakat as an effective mechanism to alleviate it.
He proposes a scheme adapted from Anwar (1995) which he called zakat investment fund (ZIF). Further, he notes that, although ZIF is capable of lifting poor Muslims to higher economic levels, its effectiveness may be affected by some challenges. Among conceptual studies, Gusau (2003) discusses zakat as one of the Islamic solutions for poverty eradication in Nigeria. In the same group, Gidado (2003) extensively explains the significance of zakat and waqf as Islamic institutions. He further elaborates on the two institutions under Islamic economic system.
In his study on possibility of achieving equitable wealth distribution through the institution of zakat, Dogarawa (2008), emphasizes the unique right which Islam confers on the poor. According to him, it is the right on the wealth of the rich that distinguishes zakat from any other forms of assistance given to the poor. He however, cautions that zakat alone may not be able to solve all the socio-economic problems within Islamic social system. He is optimistic that ,if Muslims can manage zakat institutions properly, the role of zakat will be more visible and its effect ill be better felt. Dandago (2010) centers his work on how states that newly adopted Islamic system of government can take advantage of various fiscal policy measures that may help the states in revenue generation as well as controlling cost of governance and ensuring prudent expenditure management. While emphasizing the need for justice to ensure the success of any zakat management, Dandago (2010) warns against any untoward act as the zakat payers have the right not to pay their due to an unjust government.
He, however, raises few controversial issues regarding the use of zakat fund. In his opinion, the government may use the allocation to category “in the cause of Allah” to finance public goods like education, judiciary, defence, housing, etc. ). Dandago’s position on use of zakat fund is not considered to be universally agreed upon (de Zayas, 2008) and may create mistrust among payers who are against this view and living within the same geographical boundary.
In his contribution to the conceptual studies, Dabo (2004) focuses on the framework for legal backing of zakat payment under the convention legal system in a multi-religious country while Dabo (2006) gives an in-depth analysis of the distributive Justice in Islamic Law as a mechanism for poverty alleviation being part of application of the framework. On the other hand, within limited empirical studies, Kamaluddin (1991), looks at the changes in assets upon which zakat is payable. According to him, a number of new assets have emerged and those that were available at the early stage of Islam have undergone serious transformation.
He notes that the changes have created need for new methods of assessment of these assets. His study is directed towards this gap in practice and knowledge. He proposes new accounting measures that will facilitate compliance with the Shariah provisions on zakat. A major finding in the study of Kamaluddin (1991) is the identification of the absence of systematic approach to zakat taxation among Nigerian companies. The major limitation of this study is the focus on only Limited Liability Companies thereby making cross comparison of findings very difficult if not impossible.
Considering the study limitation and the scope of the findings, Kamaluddin (1991), recommends that future research should address zakat accounting theory and practice for other forms of business entities, specific accounting and auditing responsibilities of zakat institutions in their supervisory role over corporate entities, expansion of zakatable assets to include fees and salaries, and finally the existing legal environment of corporate enterprises in order to identify areas of amendments to allow for effective implementation of zakat accounting. Abubakar (1997), gives details of the structure of organization of Kano Islamic Council.
According to him, the council was managed by committees of trustees, public enlightenment and administrative. He observes the shortage of capable hands for handling of affairs of the council on a permanent basis. Among others, he identifies a very wide gap between the demand for zakat assistance and available fund to meet them. Aliyu (2002), also study Kano state Islamic council for zakat. Unlike Abubakar (1997), he investigates the performance of the council. On the operation of the council, he finds that the council adheres to Shariah in its distribution.
He , however, discovers that, zakat collection by the council is not only low but it pattern is also unstable. In a period of 10 years, the institution was only able to raise about N2. 8 million (equivalent of $20,627. 28 at exchange rate of N140 to $1. 0). For improvement of performance of Kano state council for zakat, he recommends that the council should embark on aggressive campaign in the mass media, organize zakat seminars and workshop to gain more insight from research output, expand the members of committees to include active people with different backgrounds, and open more offices in the local governments in the state.
While focus of earlier empirical studies was on private zakat institutions as a result of absence of governmental counterparts, Yusuf (2002) study was on pioneer governmental zakat institution that was established upon adoption of Islamic legal system by the Zamfara State government in 1999. He investigates the modalities, problems and prospects of zakat in Zamfara state. According to him, zakat is managed by Zamfara state zakat and endowment board. It has outlets at local government, district and ward levels. The zakat board has a board of trustees dominated by Islamic scholars.
The board of trustees is further classified into functional committees including fatwa, verification, market, relief and staff committees. Major findings in the work of Yusuf (2002) include domination of Islamic scholars in the board of trustee, exclusion of salary from assets on which zakat can be paid, over concentration of efforts on zakat from agro based outputs, poor patronage by big time business men and over reliance on government grants. Maidugu (2003), like Yusuf (2002), uses Zamfara state as a case study in his study of relevance of Islamic redistributive schemes to poverty alleviation in Nigeria.
Basically, his focus is to provide an empirical support or otherwise to the theoretical intuition that the various Islamic redistributive schemes are capable of solving poverty problem, if carefully translated into public policies. Apart from identifying various Islamic redistributive schemes designed to alleviate poverty, Maidugu (2003), explains the extent to which socio-economic characteristics of the poor are related to their practice of Islamic redistributive schemes and the role of Zamfara state zakat and Endowment board in poverty alleviation program in the state.
One major finding of this study is that majority of zakat payers distributed their zakat directly to the poor . He also recognizes the unwillingness of zakat payers to disclose their worth for fear of tax repercussion as one of the limitations of his study. Both the major finding and the unwillingness to disclose wealth have far reaching implications on the survival of formal zakat institutions. Government success on enforcement is contingent upon the degree of monetization of the economy, the extent of informal sector in the country and, of course, the cooperation of the zakat payers.
The problem of unwillingness to declare assets can be overcome through workshop and seminars on computation of zakat liability. Willing individuals can personally compute their zakat liability. When knowledge gap is bridged, the remaining factor is the cooperation of zakat payers to pay into formal zakat institution. The need to understand how to gain the cooperation of zakat payers is, therefore, important to survival of zakat institutions. Projecting into the future, Maidugu (2003) suggests four areas of future research. First, a study of similar magnitude should be conducted in other states that have adopted Islamic legal system.
Second, a similar study should be conducted in other states that have not adopted Islamic legal system but have considerable Muslim population in the federation. Third, future study should investigate variables that explain households’ participation in the Islamic redistributive schemes of which zakat for the major proportion. Finally, he suggests an elaborate study to understand the relationship between the socio-economic characteristics of households and their practice of Islamic redistributive schemes using a wider sample in order to evolve a general policy guideline that will enhance poverty lleviation in the country. The current study, that discusses the management of zakat institutions in Nigeria, is partly in response to this call. Types and Operational Scope of Zakat Institutions in Nigeria The foundation for the effective revival of organised formal zakat management in Nigeria was laid down in Bayero University, Kano, and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, through the efforts of a number of concerned Muslims. One of such endeavours was the organisation of a National Conference on Zakat held in December 1981 in Kano.
Another attempt was a special session by the Fatwa Commission of the Centre of Islamic Legal Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria which took place in November 1990 at Bagauda Lake Hotel, Kano. A landmark achievement was the establishment of the Kano State Zakat Council in Kano by a number of concerned Muslims in 1982 which became actively involved in zakat collection by 1987. This reawakening process of Zakat consciousness among Nigerian Muslims reached its climax after the declaration of the Shariah legal system in Zamfara state in 1999 as it led to the establishment of the first government zakat institution in Nigeria.
Figure 1. Types and Operational Scope of Zakat Institutions in Nigeria Figure 1 depicts the types and operational scope of zakat institutions in contemporary Nigeria. It is the output of exploratory field study involving interviews with informants in the zakat institutions, extensive document search and information retrieved directly from the internet. 15 states of the federation and the federal capital territory were visited for the purpose of the exploratory study.
More specifically, the visit covered Zamfara state, Kano state, Sokoto state, Bauchi state, Gombe state, Jigawa state, Yobe state, Bornu state, Niger state, Kaduna state, Oyo state, Osun state, Lagos state, Kwara state and Abuja, the federal capital territory. The arrangement of zakat management in Nigeria comprises of governmental and nongovernmental institutional structures. Governmental structure is made up of fully fledged independent zakat institutions and dependent zakat committees backed by laws passed in the individual states.
Independent government institutions have various names. They are identified as either committees or boards or commissions or trusts. Typically, the scope of operations of independent zakat institutions extends across the state in which such institutions operate. Examples of independent institutions with coverage across a given state are Zamfara State Zakat and the Endowment Board and Kano State Zakat and Hubsi Commission. There are, however, exceptional situations where the scope of activities of an independent zakat committee is limited to a single emirate or local government.
This exceptional category typifies an independent government zakat committee. For example, in Jigawa State, there are four emirate based zakat management committees operating as independent zakat institutions. A leading example in this category is Dutse Emirate Zakat Committee. Unlike these two forms of independent government zakat institutions discussed, typical dependent government zakat institutions are established by law but operate under the umbrella of another organisation. Examples of this form of institutions are the like of zakat structures we have in Kaduna and Bauchi states.
The Kaduna State Zakat Management Organisation operates as a unit within the Kaduna State Bureau for Religious Affairs (Islamic Matters) while the Bauchi State Zakat Department operates as a department in Bauchi State Shariah Commission. All these different forms vary greatly in sizes. On the one hand, the category of independent boards with a state wide operational scope has a full staff complement in a relatively independent office block. Independent boards of zakat usually have a board of trustees comprising of voluntary or ceremonial members.
Composition of these trustees varies from one state to the other depending on the focus and perceptions of the boards of zakat institutions. There are boards of trustees that are dominated by Islamic scholars whereas there are others where the composition reflects the representation of people from all sectors in the state. On the other hand, a typical independent zakat committee often has one or two senior administrative officers with two or three supporting staff operating from two to four rooms used as offices.
In this type of arrangement, that is, independent zakat committees, the boards of trustees oversee all aspects of zakat management while administrative staff provide only supporting roles. Consequently, the board of trustees is usually re-grouped into sub committees such as zakat collection committees and zakat disbursement committees. Although the use of various types of sub-committees is found in independent zakat boards, the major difference is the active involvement of the staff of independent boards in the sub committees as opposed to the taff of dependent zakat organisations whose role is relatively passive possibly because of the shortage of man power. Dependent zakat committees are rudimentary in nature. It is difficult to identify this form of committee with a specific pattern. In Bauchi, for instance, the zakat department, which represents the category of dependent committees, is headed by one of the commissioners under the Bauchi State Shariah Commission. There is no board of trustee but an advisory body comprising of most of the commissioners. Effectively, the commissioner of zakat plays a major role in this body while other commissioners provide necessary support.
In contrast to the experience in Bauchi, currently, the Kaduna State Zakat Management Organisation (proposed as, Kaduna State Zakat Management Organisation and Awqaf Board), has only one senior administrative officer assisted by junior staff but with no advisory body. The simple setting in Kaduna State, based on the proposal made to the permanent secretary bureau for religious affairs in respect of Islamic matters, appears to be the preparatory ground for a fully fledged independent zakat institution. Like government zakat institutions, there are three forms of zakat organisations categorized as non-government zakat institutions.
They include independent registered foundations, dependent registered zakat committees and dependent unregistered zakat committees. Independent registered zakat bodies mostly go by the name ‘foundation’ such as Zakat and Sadaqa Foundation and Al-Habibiyyah Zakat foundation. In contrast to governmental institutions, this category of zakat organ often has board of trustees made up members from diverse fields and drawn from different geographical locations and they focus wealth other than agricultural products. In terms of scope of operation, they are relatively small compared to government zakat institutions.
The degree of intensiveness of operation, however, varies. In the case of Al-Habibiyyah Zakat Foundation, it operates from a modest office with few staff and operations are limited to Abuja; a part of the federal capital territory. On the contrary, the Zakat and Sadaqah Foundation is a highly ambitious organisation. It has its corporate office in the central business area of Lagos state as well as offices in five other states including the federal capital territory, Abuja. Due to infrastructural limitations, the operation of the foundation is often imited to the immediate environment of the foundation but not the remote areas of the state of operation. Dependent registered zakat bodies, as the name implies, are institutions registered specifically for charitable activities but also engage in management of zakat funds. At the moment, the only example of dependent registered zakat institutions is the Muslim Welfare Fund (MUWELF). It is grouped as dependent because zakat management is only one of the charitable activities of MUWELF, and is handled by a zakat unit within the body. MUWELF operates only in Lagos State.
In addition, there are also dependent unregistered zakat committees that operate as zakat fund managers but lack the backing of the law. They operate under the umbrella of a registered Islamic organisations such as An-Sarudeen Society of Nigeria, Nasrul- Lahi- Fatih- Society (NASFAT) and Muslim communities within a registered institution such as the Muslim community of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife, Nigeria. Typical dependent unregistered zakat bodies often have standing committees but their operation, at best, is on an ad-hoc basis. Usually when Ramadan is approaching, such committees swing into action.
They commence compilation of names of prospective zakat payers while waiting for beneficiaries to show up. SIGNIFICANT FINDINGS FROM THE FROM THE STUDY Although the present paper does not report the entire findings from the overall study, a number of significant findings were made during the exploratory phase. First, there is absence of national supervisory body to regulate the activities of zakat institutions; as a consequence, it leaves the standard setting in these organizations to the whims and caprices of the trustees of individual zakat management entity.
Although, the independent zakat institutions have board of trustees, it is unclear if they will be able to provide the required guide and exercise appropriate controls to ensure that these institutions are not distracted from the objectives for which they were established. Within a given state, fragments of zakat institutions exist, at least, there is a state with four emirate based zakat committees. Such arrangement constitutes a serious drain on available zakat fund as a good percentage of zakat collections will be used for sitting allowances of the various boards of trustees in all the committees within the state.
Unless there is a single supervisory body for zakat management in such state, uniformity in operations will be difficult if not impossible. Accounting records of all zakat institutions run by government reflect over dependency on public funds. This, however, is not the case with nongovernmental zakat institutions that rely only on zakat and other donations from individuals. Reporting practice also follow the dictates of law which is not comprehensive enough to demonstrate the levy of transparency that can promote public trust.
Poor zakat collection by governmental institutions is traceable to preference of reasonable percentage of wealthy individuals to distribute their zakat direct to the poor, differences in political ideology, strict adherence to the Islamic school of thought that prohibits zakat on salary and poor data management. Difference in political parties impinges zakat collections in states where the ruling parties and the wealthy people are in the opposing political camps. Zakat institutions are viewed as a mean to score political points by this category of wealthy people.
The fact that zakat institution should be managed by a government that uphold Sharia makes it imperative to put in place mechanism that will eliminate threat which political alignment pose against effective zakat management. Payment of zakat on salary is not supported by all schools Islamic jurisprudence. On this basis, zakat is not collected on salary and professional fees by zakat institutions in the north whereas zakat is collected of these forms of income in the southwest.
This disparity in the application of Shariah portends administrative bottle neck if zakat is to be collected at National level. Besides, it will, definitely, deny the institutions a very important and reliable source of revenue that can be used to fulfill the purpose of poverty alleviation for which these organisations are established. Interestingly, these institutions concentrate on farmers majority of whom cannot be considered as rich. It is not impossible that most of them pay zakat out of religious zealousness not because they are rich.
Problem of poor database management cut across the two types of zakat institutions. There are cases where zakat payers pay directly to their banks or where individuals prefer not to disclose their identities. Updated records of zakat payers and zakat recipients are essential for good database management and planning. According to Qadarawi (1999), proper database management is inevitable for efficient service delivery by zakat institutions. Since good data management is essential for long term sustainability of these institutions necessary strategies should be put in place to address it.
Muslims who pay zakat in states where Islamic laws used are not given allowance against tax liabilities. This is within the power of these states. In countries where social justice is taken very seriously, government grant tax reliefs in respect of donations made by citizens to a number of charitable organisations to ensure sustained income for charitable activities. Also, in multi-religious societies of Singapore and Malaysia, amount paid as zakat by Muslims are set against their tax liabilities to ensure that Muslims are not unfairly treated despite differences in faiths of the citizens.
If such relief is introduced, it may promote proper record keeping culture in these institutions and may encourage more individuals to pay zakat. Another important finding is the dual-chairmanship of an individual in two zakat institutions. Integrity of the person concern and the respect of people he commanded were given to justify the occupation of chairmanship in two institutions own by different states. Scholars have argued that multiple directorship enriches decision making potentials of such directors holding such appointment.
However, it is not clear if an important issue such as zakat management was not given skin-deep attention when an individual serves as chairman of two zakat institutions. Similarly, cases exist where the boards of trustees are made up of mainly Islamic scholars. For effective corporate governance, it been recommended that boards with members form diverse background are most suitable for charitable institutions. According to them, such combination will give room for better deliberation and richer decisions.
The domination of board by Islamic scholars may be antithetical to the realization of the envisage objectives of diverse board. There is no doubt that presence of experts in Islamic knowledge will ensure injection of ideas that will guarantee Shariah compliance by these institutions. It is equally not untrue that exclusion of experts from other fields will deny the organisations the benefit of rich managerial experience which may be vital for the organisations to meet the dynamics of the changing world. Conclusion and Recommendations
This paper has discussed the status of zakat management in Nigeria. More specifically, it focused on the various arrangements for zakat collection and distribution and findings from the study. From the preceding discussion, if appropriate steps are not taken to effect desire changes in the current practices, it may be difficult to realize the full potential of zakat as an Islamic institution for poverty alleviation in Nigeria. There is a need for national supervisory board to set standards and to monitor compliance as it is done in other jurisdictions.
This board should be able to resolve problems associated with types of reports to be prepared for public accountability, board development practices for zakat institutions and the requirements which organisations must fulfill before they are authorized to collect and distribute zakat. An establishment of effective Fatwa committee is also imperative to streamline possible disagreement that may arise due to differences in school of Islamic thought. Fragmentation of zakat institutions for whatever reason may not be in the best interest of zakat recipients.
Nigeria is made up of a number of states with varying social, cultural and economic characteristics. It is unclear if a single model of zakat institution may suit the circumstances of Nigerian Muslim. For instance, in states that are implementing Shariah legal system, a single governmental model should be appropriate provided it is structured in a way that it can gain the trust of zakat payers in the state. Public opinion poll may be carried out to ascertain the acceptable form of zakat institution rather than imposing a particular type.
In other states, nongovernmental agencies can be formed to manage zakat collection and distribution since Muslims may not feel comfortable with zakat institution that is run by a government that is perceived to be hostile against Islam. This is pertinent as the trust of public also applies to this type of institutions. It is important for government to consider ways of implementing rebate to zakat payers to encourage more people to pay into zakat institutions rather than distributing their zakat direct to the needy.
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