The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, hit the bull’s eyes recently when he blamed the lack of understanding among Nigerians, as the major challenge facing the country, saying that for Nigeria to achieve peace, “citizens must understand one another”.
In apparent corroboration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s exposition on the nation’s major problem, the sultan pointed out that it was with understanding that Nigerians would tolerate one another, for peace to reign in the country.
The sultan, who spoke at the inauguration of the Inter-Tribal Traditional Leaders Association of Nigeria, in Kano, last week, described the formation of the association as timely, in view of the country’s security challenges.
Abubakar III, who is also the President, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria, explained that the leaders must work assiduously towards unity and tolerance among ethnic groups in the country. “Our major problem as a country is lack of understanding. We need to understand one another. If we understand one another, we will surely tolerate one another and peace will reign.
In his remarks, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano state said that no part of Nigeria could live in isolation because the citizens needed one another to survive. The governor described the formation of the association as a great step forward in the journey towards uniting ethnic groups in Kano and the nation in general.
National Chairman of the Association, Mr Boniface Ibekwe, said Kano was the most integral part of unity in Nigeria as it harboured many ethnic groups without discrimination or harassment.
He said that Kano was also a true example of unity because its citizens were found across many parts of the country, especially in the South-east were most of the Sarkin-Hausawa were of Kano origin and had married indigenous Igbo women there.
It is instructive that President Buhari had reflected on the complexities of the Nigerian condition and concluded that neither ethnicity nor religion was to blame, “but we ourselves,” for inherent injustices.
Buhari made the remark through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja recently, when he received members of the Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo (MBO) Dynamic Support Group, who were in the State House to present a compendium of five years achievements of the administration.
He said the president went into the trajectory of his struggles to get justice at the courts, after disputed results of presidential elections in 2003, 2007, and 2011, submitting that people who ruled against him were of his own ethnic stock and religious persuasion.
He, however, observed that those who stood up for him were of other faiths and ethnicity. “Our problem is not ethnicity or religion, it is ourselves. After my third appearance in the Supreme Court, I came out to speak to those who were present then. I told them that from 2003, I’d spent 30 months in court.
“The president of the Court of Appeal, the first port of call for representation by presidential candidates then, was my classmate in secondary school in Katsina. We spent six years in the same class, Justice Umaru Abdullahi,” he said.
He said that his legal head was Chief Mike Ahamba, a Roman Catholic and an Ibo man. “When the president of the court decided that we should present our case, my first witness was in the box.
“Ahamba insisted that a letter should be sent to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to present the register of constituencies in some of the states, to prove that what they announced was falsehood. It was documented. When they gave judgment, another Ibo man, late Justice Nsofor, asked for the reaction from INEC to the letter sent to them,” he said.
According to him, they just dismissed it. He then decided to write a minority judgment. That was after 27 months in court. “We went to the Supreme Court. Who was Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN)? A Hausa-Fulani like me, from Zaria. The members of the panel went in for about 30 minutes, came back and proceeded on break.
“When they returned, it didn’t take 15 minutes, they dismissed us. In 2007, who was the CJN? Kutigi. Again, a Muslim from the North. After eight months or so, he dismissed the case”.
He said again in 2011, because he was persistent, Musdafa, a Fulani like him, from Jigawa was CJN and he dismissed his case. “I refused to give up. I had tried to wear Agbada after what happened to me in Khaki. Something was done to me, because I did something to others. You know it. In the end, I was arrested, detained, and they were given back what they had taken. I was there for three and a quarter years. This is Nigeria”.
From the foregoing postulate, it appears incontrovertible that the so-called fault-lines, namely, ethnicity, political and religious persuasions, are mere coinages crafted by unpatriotic elements to cause disaffection among the plurality of Nigerians and frustrate the country’s economic development.
It is on this backdrop that we commend Governor Ganduje’s exemplary gesture for sponsoring the Inter-Tribal Traditional Leaders Association of Nigeria in Kano. It is our conviction that the gesture will, to a large extent, foster the desired unity among the diverse denizens of Kano state, thus restoring the status of Kano as the centre of commerce in West Africa.