Recently, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III was on the spotlight as he marked his 60th birthday anniversary. Peter Uzoho who followed the event, writes that the non tribalistic monarch and rare cleric was celebrated by Nigeria’s timber and caliber for his patriotism and selfless service to the nation and humanity
Call it a payback time you may not be wrong afterall. It was a time to give honour to who honour is due. Since his 60th birthday anniversary on 24th August, 2016, goodwill and congratulatory messages have continued to rain in torrents on the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubabar III.
The Sultan of Sokoto remains to be celebrated any day, any year, any time for proving beyond every reasonable doubt that, despite being the head of the Muslim community in Nigeria, he is a leader for every Nigerian irrespective of tribe and religion. Being a strong advocate of national peace and unity, he ensures that all his public utterances and comments are guided by wisdom and are always in the interest of the nation.
Right from the day he ascended the throne as the 20th Sultan of Sokoto, the highest and most exalted position in the Northern part of Nigeria,Abubakar has been among the few powerful voices in the country that are readily available to calm frayed nerves and sue for peace whenever occasion demands. He is a true Nigerian that believes in the Nigerian agenda and is determined to see a prosperous Nigeria. In the build up to the 2015 general elections, he was among the religious leaders who cautioned on “skewing religion for political gains” as politicians at the time were hiding under the cover of religion, making inciting comments which would have degenerated into crisis.
Abubakar has never hesitated to cooperate with the government both at the national and state levels on matters of national interest. He is ever ready to assist in ensuring that government policies and programmes that are tailored towards alleviating the plight of the people are executed. During the administration of former President,Goodluck Jonathan, he played a significant role in making sure that poliomyelitis, a major disease ravaging some parts of the country was eradicated. He mobilised the religious and traditional communities for a joint battle against the disease. According to him, “No father will want to watch his child go disabled.” He continues to show same support and assistance to the present government as he believes that with collective effort, all challenges facing the country will be overcome.
What better way to appreciate the royal father, a rare cleric, a strong patriot and embodiment of wisdom, for his selfless service to the nation, than to join his families and friends on yearly basis to wish him well on occasions of his birthday anniversary. Holding in August every year, many August personalities in the country, one after the other take turn to congratulate the Caliph.
Among those that sent their birthday messages to the Sultan during his 60th birthday anniversary was President Muhammadu Buhari,who in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said, “As the head of Jama’atu Nasril Islam and President-General of Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), you have demonstrated uncommon leadership style, patriotism and wisdom in your consistent advocacy for security, peace and unity of Nigeria.”
“Your wise counsels and support on issues of good governance, girl-child mortality, and agriculture has greatly enriched my administration’s efforts to improve the livelihood of Nigerian.
“I pray that the Almighty Allah will grant you good health and long life to continue in the service of humanity.”
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki described him as “an ambassador of peace, promoter of national unity, champion of national development, embodiment of tradition and culture, and a source of inspiration to many Nigerians.
“I am delighted to congratulate you on this epoch anniversary of attaining the age of 60.Your legacies as the Sultan of Sokoto, the head of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and the President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), are visible to all. You have continued to diligently serve humanity both in your immediate domain and the county at large.
“You remain a source of blessing and inspiration to the entire country, especially your quest for peaceful coexistence, religious tolerance, fight against insurgency, free and compulsory education for the less-privileged and the holistic development and unity of the entire country. I pray that the Almighty Allah will continue to grant you perfect health, long life and more wisdom in the discharge of your duties,” Saraki added.
Former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar described him as “a remarkable man of peace”, praising the Sultan’s courage and sincerity for always forcefully condemning violent extremism which has created negative perception problems for Islam and Muslims in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world.”
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike said, “On this auspicious occasion of your 60th birthday,I,on behalf of my wife,Suzette,our children as well as the government and people of Rivers State felicitate with you and join your family, friends and millions of the Muslim faithfuls in Nigeria to thank the Almighty God for his grace upon your life.
“A day of joy like this reminds of the invaluable contributions you are making towards national cohesion and development. Your endless pursuit of peace in Nigeria especially in very challenging times has remained invaluable and future generations will remember you in gratitude. As you begin another journey of greatness, we pray God to grant you longevity, good health, happiness, prosperity and courage to continue to serve our nation and humanity to the glory of His name.”
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, on his part, showered encomiums on the Sultan, appreciating his role and quick intervention in crisis anywhere in the country, which he said has assisted tremendously in ensuring peace in the country.
“Abubakar has demonstrated uncommon leadership in establishing unity among the Muslim community in the country,” adding “I wish him more fruitful years and good health in the service to humanity.”
Abubakar is a younger son of the seventeenth Sultan, Siddiq Abu Bakardan Usman, who held the Sultanate for over fifty years. He is the fifth heir to the two century-old throne founded by his ancestor, Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio (1754-1817), leader of the Maliki school of Islam and the Qadiribranch of Sufism. He attended the prestigious Barewa College, Zariaand proceeded to the Nigerian Defence Academy in 1975 where he was a member of the 18th Regular Course. Abubakar was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1977 and served in the elite Armoured Corps.
Abubakar headed a presidential security unit of the Armoured Corps that guarded then military ruler General Ibrahim Bagangida in the late 1980s. He also commanded a battalion of African peacekeepers in Chad during the early 1980s as part of the Organisation of African Unity’s force, and was the military liaison officer for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the mid-1990s. He was appointed Commanding Officer 241 Recce Battalion, Kaduna in 1993. From 1995 to 1999, he was ECOWAS military liaison officer and Commanding Officer, 231 Tank Battalion, ECOMOGOperations in Sierra Leone from 1999 to 2000. From 2003 to 2006, Abubakar served as Defence Attaché to Pakistan also accredited for Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan.
Upon his elder brother, Sultan Maccido’s death, he was recalled to take office as the 20th Sultan of Sokoto and retired as a brigadier General.By his position as the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubabar is the leader of the Qadiriyya Sufi Order, historically the most important Muslim position in Nigeria.
In 2015, Amirul Mumineen Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III was listed among the 10 recipients of the maiden edition of the Global Seal of Integrity(GSOI), an annual list which is compiled and authored by two young Nigerians; Emmanuel Josh Omeiza and Godspower Oshodin, under the Global Youth Coalition for Integrity, for promoting integrity among the people and consequently promoting the well-being of the Universe.