The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, today in Kaduna called on the North to “come back to its senses” and end the problems that are tearing it apart.
The Sultan was speaking at a meeting of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Nigeria’s foremost Muslim organization, which was attended by many leading clerics.
Describing the Boko Haram crisis and other insecurities in the country as “damaging,” the soft-spoken leader said, “We must come back to our senses and say firmly and resolutely that enough is enough. The bloodshed must stop. Each and every one of us must come to appreciate that we cannot continue on this destructive path.”
Also speaking at the event, the Governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, implored the Muslim religious leaders to make more concerted efforts to bring the challenge to security to an end.
“People in government are not infallible,” said Mr. Yakowa, the first Christian to be elected governor of the state. “Consequently, whenever we are perceived to have erred, we should be advised, not attacked.”
He lamented the killings in the state in recent times, stressing that those spearheading the killings are acting contrary to religious teachings.
“Kaduna State has witnessed a lot of violence. Consequent upon that, churches and mosques were destroyed, property worth millions of Naira was lost, and lives were equally lost. It is indeed an unfortunate thing as the perpetrators of such dastardly act did it in contrast of the religion they were practicing.”
Mr. Yakowa said that Nigeria is a country which comprises both Muslims and non-Muslims because it is the wish of God.
“Had He wanted, He would have made our country, Nigeria, to be inhabited by the Muslims, or then on-Muslims only. In order to develop our dear country, we have to embrace the spirit of peaceful co-existence as taught by the two major religions [being] practiced in Nigeria, I mean Islam and Christianity.”
He emphasized that Islam does not approve the use of force or any prejudice in the propagation of religion. “Since Allah commands not to use any kind of compulsion in religion, it is obviously ridiculous to even argue that Islam commands Muslims to kill non-Muslims,” he said.
Turning to Christianity, he noted that the religion also protects the right to life and religion. “Therefore, both Muslims and Christians should adhere strictly to the teachings of their religion of choice in order to move our country forward.”
The governor called on JNI, as a noble organization founded on truth and piety, to educate the Muslims, maintain its original mandate and form with a renewed vigor, and establish a much more cordial relationship with other faith-based organizations. That, he said, will really go a long way in the establishment of a better, cordial and respectful relationship between the Nigerian Muslims and their Christian compatriots as witnessed during the time of the late Sardauna.
Mr. Yakowa recalled that Prophet Muhammed related with the Jews of the city of Madinah and the Christian delegation of Najran, and expressed his hope that the same atmosphere of harmony will return to Kaduna and the entire country as a whole.
“I believe that the country will, by the grace of God, overcome the present social, economic and security challenges we are facing with your persistent prayers,” he said. “I am a Governor for all, and I will remain just to all.”
The Sultan similarly charged Nigerian leaders at all levels to live up to expectation, as a panacea to the present insecurity.
“Prosperity of the state must translate into the prosperity of the entire populace; it shall not be the exclusive preserve of the few who happen to have access to State resources,” he said.
He stressed that governments at all levels must embark on meaningful developmental programmes that will make life easier and more pleasant for the majority of Nigerians. “The current level of poverty, especially in the Northern states, cannot be acceptable in any decent society,” he stressed. “We can hide behind our rhetoric but we cannot run away from the stark realities which characterize the daily lives of our people.”