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More upvotes for His Eminence

It all started with a note of caution from the indefatigable Professor Ishaq Akintola, director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), today it has snowballed into…

It all started with a note of caution from the indefatigable Professor Ishaq Akintola, director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), today it has snowballed into a nationwide chorus, with the sole aim of saying “leave our Sultan alone.”

What triggered MURIC’s lone cry, as we all know, was the Sokoto state government’s declared intent to take away from His Eminence, the Sultan, the power to appoint all district heads directly under the jurisdiction of the sultanate council.

MURIC’s position was soon echoed by the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima,  when he publicly stated that the Sultan should be jealously guarded, protected and respected because he represents an idea and an institution that deserves it.

These two weighty voices were soon joined by numerous other individuals and groups calling for the same thing; that the Sokoto State government should keep off anything that will antagonise His Eminence, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar.

This national outcry was premised upon two things. The first is that the Sultan isn’t just the traditional ruler of Sokoto. He also doubles as the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s Muslims, in his role as the President-general of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. Therefore whatever threatens his authority is a direct affront on the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria.

The second is that having seen how the Sokoto S tate government removed fifteen district heads, without any qualms about how that action could affect their subjects, it is feared that the same act might be visited on His Eminence, the Sultan, since the government had already presented a bill to the state assembly seeking to reduce the Sultan’s authority over the appointment of district heads in the sultanate.

Added to all this is the Kano debacle, wherein two Emirs now reign, pending the decision of the courts, and as a direct result of meddling by state governors in the affairs of the emirate stool.

But beyond the above reasons are others not so pronounced, but equally important in explaining why there happens to be an almost unanimous call for due respect and restraint on the part of Sokoto state government in its treatment of Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad.

About 15 years ago, not long after he had ascended the sultanate throne,  the Daily Trust published the story of a young school girl in Zaria who was afflicted with a heart condition and needed to be treated abroad.

A few people responded to the appeal by the girl’s father for help. Even the Daily Trust Zakat Fund (now Foundation) donated the sum of half a million naira to the school girl’s appeal. Suddenly we broke the story that a royal father had donated the sum of ten thousand dollars to the fund. This enabled the girl and her parents to travel to India and get the surgery done successfully. As the editor of our Hausa paper Aminiya, I wanted to translate and use the story, so I reached out to our Kaduna bureau chief, Dr. Isa Saidu, because he filed the story and asked who the royal father was. He said to me it was the Sultan of Sokoto, but he had given strict instructions that his name must never be disclosed. We had to obey him on that.

A few years later, I wrote in this same column, then it was in the Saturday edition, the story of a young Keke Napep rider in Jos, who found over half a million naira forgotten in his vehicle and made every effort to trace the owner and return it to her. The owner, a Christian lady celebrated him in her church’s newsletter ECWA worldwide, from where the story went viral and I picked it and commented on it. Apparently, the tricycle rider, Bashir by name, had an outstanding two year rent to pay and his three children were home from school due to unpaid school fees, plus his wife was expecting a baby the very month that he found the money and returned it.

For this reason I also celebrated him and launched an appeal fund for him to pay his rent, pay those school fees and buy his own Keke Napep, because the one he uses wasn’t his own.

Luckily for him, His Eminence read my column and using the official phone number I was using on the column logo, he texted me and asked for Bashir’s contacts. I didn’t have that but I promised to reach out to my JNI contacts in Jos and trace him.

I went ahead and contacted Barrister Sani Mudi, who quickly made the right enquiries and found the young man. Soon after, the Sultan sent a donation of one million naira to the JNI Plateau state account. A brand new Keke tricycle was bought for Bashir and with the change, a sewing machine, a grinding machine and a fridge was bought for his wife; whom he confessed had greatly influenced him to return the money untouched.

Then two years ago, at the height of the ASUU strike, I again witnessed another manifestation of Sultan Sa’ad’s empathy and sympathy for the common man. As a member of the JNI media committee I belong to WhatsApp group which has His Eminence as a member. One day he casually announced that all ASUU members in the group should forward their accounts details to him privately. Some had thought it was a joke, because the Sultan can be humorous sometimes, but those who believed him immediately sent their account numbers. They got princely alerts in return.

This encouraged the doubting ones to forward theirs too. In the end we had a number of smiling academics among us who were relieved the pain of “No work, no pay”, thanks to the Sultan’s benevolence.

Last but not the least, is the case of Jibrin Ahmed of Ganye, Adamawa State. Most people know him better as Jibrin mijin Harira. He is the man whose whole family was wiped out by IPOB in Anambra State in May 2022. We might recall that a woman and her four daughters were killed in cold blood by IPOB terrorists, when they walked on the streets of Anambra two years ago. She was pregnant with her fifth child. When his story was brought to the attention of His Eminence, he invited Jibrin to Sokoto to spend his first Eid-el-kabir without a family, at the seat of the caliphate.

Jibrin, who admitted he had never been to an airport, was flown from Yola to Abuja and from Abuja to Sokoto, where he spent two weeks and was given the kind of royal treatment he never thought he’d ever have.

According to him, he had three audiences with the Sultan, during which the Royal Father admonished him to accept the painful tragedy that had befallen him as divine trial, for which he’ll be rewarded, if he bears it patiently.

After his return to Ganye, the Sultan disbursed money through his one of his courtiers, Eng. Lawal Maidoki, for a house to be bought for Jibrin Ahmed and for the rest to be used in getting him married to a woman he had met and chosen.

The above are by no means an exhaustive list of the gestures of kindness and empathy for which Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar is known, but they may certainly lend a glimpse into another of the many reasons  Nigerians are up in arms against any move to touch him.

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