NIGER State governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, has commended the President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, for his contributions to the unity, peace, progress and development of the country in his first decade as the Sultan of Sokoto.
Three Muslim groups, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN) and Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWG), have equally congratulated the Amirul Mumineen on clocking 10 years on the throne.
Sa’ad Abubakar became the Sultan of Sokoto on November 1, 2006, succeeding his brother, Muhammadu Maccido, who died in an air crash on October 28, 2006.
In separate messages, the governor and the groups extolled the virtues of the northern Nigeria’s most eminent monarch and spiritual leader of the country’s Muslims.
Governor Bello, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Malam Jibrin Baba Ndace, described the past 10 years of the Sultan’s reign as filled with activities, challenges and successes.
According to him, the Sultan has been able to bring hope and understanding where despair, desperation and uncertainty had taken hold.
He noted the initiatives and efforts of the foremost monarch to counter negative perception about Islam and reduce influence of ethno-religious influence in Nigeria through various fora, including inviting International Joint Muslim-Christian delegation to Nigeria.
The governor also noted that as the 20th Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III was instrumental in the establishment of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), which is championing the course of sustainable peace, security, ethno-religious harmony and peaceful co-existence among people of various faiths in the country.
“The Sultan’s reign has brought unity and peaceful co-existence and greatly reduced mutual suspicion and tension among people from different religious and ethnic divides. He has been able to sustain and enhance the status of the throne and wield influence that transcends the country’s borders.
“These efforts have earned the Sultan international recognition, including joint nomination with Cardinal John Onaiyekan for Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their peace-building roles.
“We are proud to celebrate a strategic leader and statesman whose positive attitude, strong will, discipline, self-confidence and ability to manage people have been significant factors towards the progress and development of the Sultanate in particular and the country in general,” the governor stated.
He acknowledged the role of traditional rulers and religious leaders in nation building and stressed the need for government to support them by creating the right platform for them to function effectively.
The governor prayed Allah to grant the spiritual leader many more decades ahead in good health and wisdom to continue with the remarkable service to humanity by promoting mutual respect and condemning bigotry wherever it rears its head.
Also, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a faith-based organisation, congratulated the Sultan in a statement by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“We also felicitate with the government and good people of Sokoto State, the Sultanate Council and the entire Muslim Ummah in Nigeria and beyond.
“We affirm that Nigerian Muslims only began to raise their heads with pride after the current Sultan came on board. Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III gave Nigerian Muslims purposeful, mature, dynamic and responsible leadership.
“He shunned armchair leadership and became visible in all parts of the country. We marvel at his managerial skill with which he has mobilised Muslims from all sectors,” MURIC said.
The organisation also described the Sultan as “a completely detribalised Nigerian, a true bridge-builder and a man of peace, who brought the Muslim Ummah closer to their Christian neighbours.”
“’Leading by example, he taught us love, forgiveness, and tolerance. A patriot, he laid special emphasis on the need for peaceful coexistence in the past 10 years of selfless service to his country,” it said.
MURIC advised the Sokoto State government to give the monarch special recognition and befitting status by repealing laws that empower state governors to depose Sultans.
He also advised Governor Aminu Tambuwal and other Northern governors and Muslims to continue to support and cooperate with the Sultan.
Equally, the Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), in a statement by its National President, Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Balogun, said Muslims in the country had witnessed unprecedented leadership style since the Sultan ascended the throne 10 years ago and this had endeared him to the Ummah and non-Muslims alike.
“As a leader, he has demonstrated to all Muslims, irrespective of their leanings, that he is father to all. Through selfless service to humanity, His Eminence has been able to preach peace, love, togetherness, tolerance and peaceful co-existence in the country.
“We call on Nigerian Muslims to continue to cooperate with the Sultan in appreciation of his unequalled and exemplary leadership,” the MMPN statement reads.
The Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWG) also commended the Sultan for his purposeful leadership which, it said, has made him a pride of the Muslim Ummah.
The National Coordinator of the group, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, in a statement, said Sultan Abubakar had scaled up the level of traditional leadership by being selfless, committed, dedicated and responsive to yearnings of the people since assumption of office.
The statement reads in part: “He has undertaken tours of virtually all states in Nigeria with the sole aim of promoting unity, peace and stability in the nation.
“In his attempt to promote religious tolerance, he has, from time to time, organised and promoted inter-religious dialogue with a view to educate the people that though we are diverse in terms of religious beliefs, we are from only one God, who enjoins us to be our brother’s keepers.”
“The Sultan has personally been using his little wealth to care for the physically challenged, the poor and their children as well as women. His contributions to the welfare of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) remain unquantifiable.”
“In support of women education in particular, Sultan is establishing a special university for women in Nigeria with bias for medical sciences and all other areas of knowledge. Muslims have been worried on low percentage of educated women, especially in the field of medical sciences, in spite of their high population in this country. Training of large number of women would bring medical care to their doorstep and promote moral rectitude in the society in line with Islamic injunctions.
“Just recently, the Sultan demonstrated his uncommon concern for unity irrespective of religious affiliations by moving to Benin City for three days not only to participate in the coronation of the new Oba of Benin Kingdom but to organise a durbar to mark the event. He had visited Yoruba lands and Igbo communities several times spreading the message of peace as practised by the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
“In order to project the nation’s good image, Sultan Abubakar engage in international trips to brief the governments and people of other continents on the good works the present administration is doing to rebuild and refocus Nigeria for economic viability and industrial development in addition to fighting corruption.
“As he celebrates his 10 years anniversary on the throne, the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria prays to Almighty Allah to grant him long life and sound health to contribute greatly and abundantly than he desires to the progress and development of this Nation, Africa and the whole world, Amen.”