By Femi Abbas
A leader is a person who, (by his/her own example), has the ability to get other people to do what they don’t (0rdinarily) want to do, and like it”.
By Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972) Former U.S. president
Promise is a debt, especially when it is not made under duress. Anybody who voluntarily makes a promise and fails to fulfill it without any clear and understand able hindrance is a hypocrite.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) confirmed this assertion while giving a precise definition of a hypocrite, in a particular Hadith thus:
“A hypocrite is known by three signs: when he talks, he lies; when he promises he reneges; and when he is trusted, he betrays”. If well observed, it will be discovered that those three signs, mentioned by Prophet Muhammad (SAW), are inseparable in the person of a hypocrite. If only one of those signs is attributable to a person, the other two will automatically join it to complete the circle. For instance, it is only a liar that will voluntarily make a promise and cunningly renege on it. Thus, any promise made by such a liar cannot be reliable just as no meaningful substance should be entrusted to him/her. That axiomatic Hadith, like many others of equal axiom, is one of the factors that made Prophet Muhammad (SAW) the greatest man that ever lived.
No other human being has ever given a similar precise definition of a hypocrite in history. The promise made by yours sincerely, in this column, last Friday, to showcase the exemplary leadership of the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of Nigerian Supreme Council (NSCIA), His Eminence, Dr. Muhammad Sa‘ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, D.Sc, is hereby fulfilled.
Meanwhile, what most people who are sending congratulatory messages His Eminence, on this occasion, are celebrating in him is his exemplary leadership and not his birthday.
It is common knowledge that His Eminence, Dr. Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) does not celebrate his birthday. The reason for this is not just because he sees such celebration as an insensitive exhibition of aristocracy of birth but also because considers merry making in an environment where majority of Nigerians are hopelessly wallowing in to the detriment of national security, as an insensitive ostentation. Ordinarily, sharing his glorious birthday with the late Bashorun MKO Abiola, on the 24th of August, His Eminence would have rolled out drums last Tuesday, like most Nigerian moneybags who have no consideration for the welfare of the masses. But, unlike those moneybags, his own philosophy of life is quite different because he deeply understands the difference between human being and being human.
As UI’s Chancellor
When this Sultan stormed the city of Ibadan, Oyo State, in November, 2015, as the newly appointed Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, his attension was strictly focused on the intellectual concern of that University’s 67th convocation which he humbly graced in modest royal regalia. It was on that occasion that he was formally installed as Chancellor with unprecedented grandeur.
Before then, His Eminence had personally graced many other occasions and events in different parts of Southern Nigeria. He is the only Sultan that has ever done that in justification of his status as Nigeria’s foremost bridge builder of the modern time, which eminently qualifies him as the Sultan of Nigeria.
It is on record that, as the Grand Commander (Amirul Mumin) of Nigerian Muslim Ummah, this Sultan did not just grace the inauguration of the Muslim Ummah of Southwest Nigeria (MUSWEN) in Ibadan in 2008, he also initiated the idea of awarding personal scholarships to some female Muslim medical students in the Southwest of Nigeria on that occasion.
Besides, he was the Special Guest of Honour on the occasion of the installation the current President General of the League of Imams and Alfas of Yoruba Land, (Alhaji Jamiu Kewulere Bello), in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, also in 2015. There are so many others of the like.
As a matter of fact, there is hardly any State in the entire country at which the impact of the current Sultan’s leadership is not positively felt for peace and harmony.
The Qualities of Leadership in Him
Good leadership, according to sages, is recognized, not by official position held or by any use of force at one’s disposal. Genuine leaders are mostly known by their utterances and actions through the magnanimity of their conducts. Such are leaders who never say YES when they mean to say NO. They never make promises and renege on them just as they never betray people who trust them.
Those were the qualities in Prophet Muhammad (SAW) which prompted the Almighty Allah to say as follows about him in Qur’an 33:31:
“There is, surely, an excellent example for you (Muslims) to emulate in Prophet Muhammad for those of you who believe in Allah and the hereafter and also remember Allah at all times”
Philosophers who assert that every new century has a way of producing a great leader may be not wrong after all. The example of Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, is a manifest attestation to that assertion. Ever since he assumed the exalted throne of the Sultanate in 2006, this great royal father has convincingly demonstrated all the qualities of a genuine leader especially in the contemporary time. Every statement he has made socially, religiously, economically as well as politically and, every action he has taken publicly or privately, has proved to be a school from which all well-meaning people, home or abroad, have had to learn one lesson or another.
Like any other thing modern, this Sultan is modern by all standards. For instance, he knew, on assumption of the royal office, that the most effective link between the Sultanate and Nigerians (especially the Muslim Ummah) is a positive utilization of the internet and he immediately put the royal institution called Sultanate online to enable the people have access to him as their leader. Thus, today, as an exemplary leader, he actively demonstrates his leadership prowess by possessing mastering fingers on the keyboard of the computer, the first Sultan in Nigerian to do that.
It cannot be strange that Sultan Muhammad Sa‘ad Abubakar is effectively prominent in the social media, through which he communicates, almost daily, with Nigerians home and abroad on peace and tranquility. Education is the most prominent heritage of Sokoto Empire. Before the official emergence of Nigeria, as a country, through the amalgamation of certain territories and regions, by the British colonialists, Sokoto Empire was beyond today’s Nigerian map. It consisted of a vast area of today’s Niger Republic, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Benin Republic and some parts of Togo, Guinea and Ghana.
However, with the partition of Africa into various colonial entities in 1884, the Sultanate of Sokoto became drastically reduced with a large chunk of its territory falling under various colonial authorities.
Evidence of Knowledge
In the days of Uthman Dan Fodio and his brother, Abdullah Bn Fodio, the main glory of Sokoto Empire was based on education which became its heritage down the descendants’ line. It is on record that a British colonial agent, Hugh Clapperton, once had an encounter with the very first Sultan, (Muhammad Bello), the son of Uthman Dan Fodio, in an interesting intellectual circumstance in 1824. After the encounter which came in form of a tacit debate, Clapperton had to admit thus: “He (Muhammad Bello) continued to ask me several other theological questions, until I was obliged to confess myself not sufficiently versed in religious subtleties to resolve those knotty points”.
A Follow Up
And, when Clapperton returned to Sokoto two years later, (1826) and presented Sultan Bello with a copy of Arabic Euclid, he was shocked to learn that his host already possessed one. Both Muhammad Bello and his father, Uthman Dan Fodio, made such complex linguistic, theological and legal studies that the one had 97 books to his intellectual credit while the other had 93.
Genesis of literacy in Nigeria
When the Europeans first came to our own part of Africa in the mid 16th century, the only literate part of what is called Nigeria today was the North. And, that was because Islam had reached that part of the country with its rich Arabic literacy since the 11th century. The British colonialists confirmed this when they arrived in Nigeria in the early 19th century.
The only reason why the colonialists did not retain Arabic literacy in the north was that they did not understand it. If they had not ignored Arabic literacy at that time, the north would not have been perceived, by the southerners, as backward educationally today. At least by 1919, when the South was just beginning to embrace literacy with less than a score of schools, the North already had over 25000 schools where various subjects were taught and learnt in Arabic language.
As ABU’s Chancellor
Five years after Sultan Sa‘ad Abubakar’s ascension to the throne, the symbiotic relationship between history and man was reconfirmed in Zaria. That was on Wednesday, (November 23, 2011), when a galaxy of well-meaning Nigerians, from all walks of life, assembled to say “we are here to bear witness”. That was the day His Eminence was installed as the Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The occasion was just one of many laurels accruing to him since he became the Sultan. And that same year, he was also named the 16th most influential Muslim leader in the world as his global itinerary in pursuit of peace and tranquility came to confirm his unique royal mission in the 21st century.
At his installation as the Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University in 2011, Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar said in a speech he delivered, that: “the current socio-economic indices in Nigeria are a clear indication that the country has begun to drift”. He blamed the cause of Nigeria’s failure to match the unprecedented material resources, with development, on corruption.
In his words: “Corruption has emasculated our progress even as poverty and unemployment have pushed citizens to the brinks, fueling and confounding social conflicts and inter-communal crisis which extract heavy toll in both human lives and property”. He went further to say that: “Persistent insecurity has generated panic and anxiety; our social and physical infrastructures are far from meeting the needs of the nation as the country appears to be adrift and, at the core of all these is moral decay engendered by ignorance and greed.”
He also noted that the reform of the tertiary education sector could not be effective without putting in place, the progressive developments required in the basic and senior secondary education sectors. In that speech, His Eminence insisted that “our state governments, especially those of the North, must begin to realize the enormity of the challenges facing the education sector and take urgent and necessary steps to address those challenges.”
He then lauded the founding fathers of the ABU, especially, the late Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and urged the authorities of the school to continue to abide by the cardinal principles on which the institution was founded.
That is the Sultan for you, a man who is at the topmost echelon of the tree of comfort but feels so much concerned about the plight of the peasants who have been politically consigned to mere weeding of the shrubs without any hope in life through official policies. His Eminence has never relented in his advocacy for good governance and denunciation of corruption as well as religious intolerance.
When the Sultan was invited in January 2010, as a special guest of honour, to a religious seminar organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), with the theme: ‘Knowing Your Muslim Neighbour’, he delivered an historic speech that reverberated meaningfully across the entire world. And, in May, same year (2010), he also invited the leadership of CAN to a special conference of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) held in Kaduna. The theme of that conference was: ‘Islam in the Eyes of the Christians’. He is the first Nigerian Monarch of special class to have engaged in such an interfaith affair at the national level, and, his speech on that occasion was also wonderfully electrifying.
The Mystery in Name bearing
There is something mysterious about name which humanity is yet to comprehend fully. A puzzling secret seems to exist in the vocabulary of life which sticks to every man or woman like the skin on human body. That secret, pearled in the yoke of name, is an effective evidence of destiny in man.
Human name is the light that glows at night to illuminate the bearer’s ways towards the glares of the days through the threshold of life. And, when the dawn comes to render the glowing light ineffective, the bearer bows out into the recluse of death leaving behind an indelible signature on the sands of time.
This was the case with Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the greatest man that ever lived on the surface of the earth.
That is Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, a leader who knows the problems of his followers and stands by them with a view to solving those problems. He has since delivered similar, captivating lectures of historic records at Oxford and Cambridge Universities in Britain as well as at Harvard University in the United States on the invitation of those institutions. Who says this only Sultan in Africa is not qualified to be called the Sultan of Nigeria? And, who says this 65 year old Sultan Muhammad Sa‘ad Abubakar’s leadership is not exemplary?
We pray the Almighty Allah to grant him long life with sound health and divine guidance as the leader of Nigerian Muslim Ummah. Amin!