By Muhammadu Muhammadu
The Sokoto Caliphate was established in 1803 by the revered Islamic scholar and reformer, Sheikh Usman bn Fodio, his brother Sheikh Abdullahi Gwandu, his son Muhammadu Bello and dozen other disciples of the great revivalist.
Sheikh Fodio and his determined disciples were persecuted and traumatized. During the course of their reform, many lives were lost and property destroyed. Despite all these difficulties, the great scholar and his disciples persevered until the Almighty crown their holy effort with success.
It is disturbing that the 200 years Caliphate is facing imminent threat under the leadership of Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar. This open letter is aimed at drawing attention of all stakeholders in the Caliphate with a view to finding a lasting solution to them. The effort of the founders of the Caliphate shouldn’t be allowed to weather away.
One of the disturbing challenges facing the Caliphate is the new trend of abduction, molestation and christianization of Muslim minors in Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, among others by Christian evangelists. The recent police rescue of some nine children, who were abducted in Kano and taken to Anambra and sold like slaves and converted to Christianity by their Igbo abductors sent shivers to the marrow of the Caliphate. The children tales of how they were abducted, molested, converted to Christianity and sold to willing buyers like commodities was devastating and mind boggling. Where is the Sultanate when these atrocious crimes are being perpetrated?
Even before the rescue of the 9 Kano children, another far worse calamity has also befallen hundreds of the Muslim faith. In February, 2016, the Muslim Corpers Association of Nigeria (MCAN), Edo state’ chapter made a chilling discovery. The Muslim group, on a humanitarian outreach mission to an Internally Displaced People’s camp at Uhuagua village, Edo State, discovered how hundreds of Muslim children were being forcefully converted to Christianity.
The Edo camp, runs by a pastor, is called the International Christian Centre for Mission. The management of the camp had denied MCAN officials access to the camp to conduct free medical check up, donate items. Three years on, these Muslim minors are still being held apparently against their wish. As expected, the Sultanate has lost its voice and instead condemned these innocent children to an unscrupulous destiny.
Again, the Sultanate lost its golden voice when the Rivers State Government under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike launched an unprovoked assault on Islam and Muslims by demolishing a neigbourhood Jumaat mosque. Despite the national outrage, the Sultan kept mute. The Sultanate’s not-so-golden silence was because of his relationship with Governor Wike. Apparently, the governor is the goose that lays the golden eggs, thus, no amount of demolished mosques, will rock that boat.
The Christianization of rural poor Muslims men and women is on its highest throttle at the heart of the Caliphate. Recent videos that went viral explained this phenomenon in details in Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi, the original seat of the Caliphate. Am not sure if the Sultan will claim ignorance of the activities of the Christian evangelists clad in Hijab giving seed money to Muslim women in lieu for their Muslim faith in Kebbi state. Is he also not aware of the same scenario in Gusau, Zamfara state where these evangelists give Muslim men and women money to accept the Christian faith? Or is the leader of the Nigerian Muslim also not aware of the aggressive evangelism and conversion of rural Muslims in these core northwestern states as evidenced in the viral videos? Is the Sultan also not aware that millions of Holy Bible translated into Hausa Language are being flooded into the nooks and crannies of the Caliphate pro bono? Is there any effort by the Sultanate to counter that?
While the above are enough to trouble any conscious mind, the conversion of Sokoto, Zamfara, and Kebbi states into killing fields by bandits are also more worrisome. The killings in Goronyo is an eyesore. This is not to mention the killings in Gandi in Rabah local government of the state. Those who escaped the bandits barrel of guns were displaced and leave now as IDPs in their fatherland. The Sultanate was also “not aware.” No statement from the Sultanate nor a visit to the survivors of the gruesome massacre yet.
Instead of performing his noble role as president-general of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), and Jamaatu Nasril Islam (JNI), the Sultan has destroyed the honour of the caliphate by being a consultant on election matters to politician with questionable characters and mandates. The affairs of the Nigerian Muslims seem not to bother him anymore.
With all this happening, the monarch still had the conscience to attend gala night organised by a military group in Abuja. How insensitive!
The Sultan takes solace in opulence in the midst of penury and abject poverty. For instance, in August 2018, the Sokoto State Government under Governor Aminu Tambuwal controversially acquired a N700 million guest house for the Sultan in Abuja.
This brazen development exposed the insensitivity of the Sultanate and the Sokoto state government. For starters, Sokoto state is the poverty headquarters of Nigeria, according to the data released recently by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The official data said Sokoto state “is rated as the poorest state in Nigeria, ranking 81.2% on poverty level.” By this, it means that only 18.8 percent of the Sokoto citizens are above poverty line – that is spending at least one one US dollar per day.
On the other hand, the Sultan enjoys his opulent life style by being one of the most richest traditional rulers in Nigeria. His capitalistic life style was showcased recently when he married off his daughter in Sokoto. The media was flooded with the stories of how over 27 private aircrafts stormed the seat of the Caliphate for the royal wedding.
It was reported that over N500 million tax payers money was used through the ministry of religious affairs to paint roundabouts for the one -day wedding of his daughter.
It is appalling that the Sultan is one of the richest monarchs in the country even though no one can tell of his actual sources of income. He publicly doesn’t own any factory, or identifiable business address.
The Sultan now embarks on voyage across the country for no reason. His endless bridge-building visitations to the oil-rich Niger Delta, for instance, is not helping either the Sultanate or the Muslim Ummah it purportedly represents. That is why the Sultan’s relationship with the Rivers Governor didn’t stop him from pulling down the mosque, or stop the abduction of Muslim minors and their forceful conversion to Christianity.
Unfortunately, the Islamic clerics who are hitherto critical of the Sultanate, have been successfully cowed into compromise. For instance, the Sultan recently sponsored one of the vocal Islamic clerics to India for medical treatment.
Those who know the Sokoto monarch very well are not surprised why his attention is always not on his official duties. What happened to one Maryam Bara’u who allegedly stole US dollars from Sultan’s bedroom is a pointer to why the Caliphate is in disarray under his leadership.
The Sokoto police command arrested, interrogated and detained Maryam Bara’u for the alleged theft of the money from the bedchamber of the monarch. What followed the arrest of the woman is even more intriguing because police detectives had stormed Tsohuwar Kasuwa and National Roundabout arresting bureau de change operators, and car dealers – where Ms Bara’u allegedly changed the “stolen” dollars and bought a car, respectively. The bureau de change operators and car traders were persecuted for transacting a legitimate business with Maryam Bara’u.
Finally, I believe that the Sultanate can still do good by focusing on the bludgeoning illiteracy level, high maternal mortality and morbidity rate, skyrocketing incidents of poverty, dilapidating infrastructure, insurgency, violent extremism, herders-farmers clashes, communal conflicts, religious intolerance ravaging the north.
It is expedient that all stakeholders put their hands on deck to salvage the 200-old Caliphate from imminent collapse. A stitch in time saves nine, they say.
Muhammadu wrote in from Kano, Nigeria