This Sultan is pained to the marrow. And worried too. It’s evident. He would not stop demonstrating just that neither would he cease talking. He would shout and yell, all at the same time.
He is piqued that we have lost it. At every given forum, he keeps wondering aloud: How did we arrive at this edge? Who actually did us in? Who did we offend? Who offended us?
Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, is in the news for the right reasons, again. That is in his character. He proudly stands to be counted. He does so with royalty and when it matters the most.
He pretends not that all is well. Right on spot. He never misses the point, not even once. He strikes when the iron is hot. And with precision too! That’s why he gets the best shape out of it.
Not this Sultan, he will never stay silent in the face of atrocities, tyranny and their likes. Mum is not his word. To keep mute is to be silenced forever. He would want none of that. He is not cut for that.
He’s always at the forefront. He does not lead from behind or the rear. He is frontal, leading majestically, never found wanting. He is bold and brave.
He dares say what his ilk are scared to confront. He shouts it loud and clear. And he cares less. In fact, he wouldn’t care a hoot whose ox is gored. Or even brutally bruised.
He maintains his usual but peculiar element. You can’t frighten him, you can’t cajole him. He remains stoutly steadfast and persistently persistent. And so, Thursday, December 9, 2021, couldn’t have been different.
He told his Abuja audience in clear terms: “Let’s not deceive ourselves, everything is not alright in our country.” True and true. His reason:
Terrorists are holding his North, particularly North West, by the jugular! They have practically turned his once “one North” into a killing field. And this is not funny, nor palatable.
He painted a graphic and pathetic picture: “If I continue talking about the insecurity in the North, we will not leave this room. Some few days ago, we are witnesses to media reports of how people were killed in a bus in Sokoto. There is no single day that passes without people being killed in the North, especially in the North West, but we don’t hear about it.”
His wake-up call: “Evidently, Nigeria is faced with series of challenges. If leaders don’t wake up, come together to understand the issues facing the country, the challenges might escalate and possibly consume all.”
The Sultan co-chairs Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), with Rev. Samson Ayokunle Olasupo, president, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). Together, they have been making positive waves.
Olasupo was encouraged by the Sultan. He too cried out: “Why should these people be killing and hiding people in our territory without being challenged? Why should it be easy for them to hide people somewhere within the state and the security agencies, within a few days or weeks will not be able to fish them out?”
These are good questions. Big posers. That ought to make government more responsible and responsive. It ought to put it further on its toes. It re-ignited the fire. And the heat is on. There must be no stopping it.
The Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) was even harsher on government. Its secretary-general, Dr. Aliyu Khalid, spoke in Kaduna, the same day the Sultan poured out his mind in Abuja.
Guess what, it’s a classical case of birds of a feather flocking together: “What really is the matter that government has not been able to halt the operations of bandits against innocent citizens, particularly in the North Western Nigeria?”
Every one of us is confused. We are lost in thought. We are in the dark. And the government is not near ready to help matters. Government is pushing its responsibility back to us. It’s making up excuses for itself.
JNI is simply unrelenting: “We are compelled to assume that government seems oblivious to sufferings and agonies of her citizens as a result of the relentless activities of these bandits.” Perhaps?
All the same, Khalid would not stop at that: “For how long would we continue to remain indifferent? And for how long would we continue to remain hopeless in the precarious situation?” These are posers on our minds also.
He is not done yet: “The most disturbing dimension of this situation is the apparent government’s inability to confront this monstrous trend head-on.” You nailed it right. That is the real fear.
JNI: “Our position is reinforced by government’s inaction to hold erring security officials responsible. In other words, there is a clear essence of lack of accountability.” How do you mean?
Khalid’s prompt response: “Security chiefs and their subordinates appear not to be made to pay for their inaction or irresponsibility.” You nailed it one more time. That is not different from our position. Nobody would choose not to align.
Sultan is JNI’s president-general. That’s where he is coming from. The reason he cannot risk sitting on the fence. See what is propelling him?
Khalid was more ferocious and forceful than Sultan. He came all out; no friend, no foe. He practically took the Buhari regime to the cleaners. We are happier and better for it.
JNI was strong in its use of language. And it was equally effective. It did not mince words. Neither did it mix it. It lay the matter bare on the table. It elected to vehemently disagree with government.
It was a profound pronouncement because it was deliberate. It was meticulous, laced with all seriousness. You can’t but bow. Certainly, JNI deserves our unreserved kudos, thumbs up.
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) didn’t want to miss out of the action. It queued up behind Sultan and his JNI. The collaboration is unique, an eye-opener.
Its spokesman, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, insisted that poverty was the root of Nigeria’s insecurity. And he had his good and right reasons. He claimed Boko Haram has grown in leaps and bounds. In fact, 10 times than it was before:
“In the course of interrogation, they confirmed that most of the weapons they have came from the military. Every part of the country has a problem. We don’t have problem with one another. We have problem with the leadership.”
Really? Meaning: “If you cannot tell a failed leadership it has failed, then we have a problem. We don’t have regional problems but leadership issues.
“If we leave here now, we are just interested about 2023. We don’t even know if the country can survive (till) then. We don’t need the approval of President Buhari to talk about the constitution or other issues that concern our unity.”
That is given!
So? Clearly, this Sultan can’t be talking nonsense. He has no viable alternative. He isn’t going to get tired or frustrated. Nothing on earth is going to distract him from toeing the path of honour.
Sultan has taken it up as a long distance race. He has put his hand on the plough with all his might. There’s no looking back. That is what we are talking about. The real integrity we desire and deserve.
It’s not yet over until it’s over. That should be the spirit. We’re convinced the message is not lost on Sultan and people of like minds.