Again, Sultan Cautions against Criminalising Ethnic Groups

Sa’ad Abubakar

James Sowole in Akure

Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Saad Abubakar, yesterday called on the traditional institutions to raise their voice against denigrating the nation’s diversity and criminalisation of ethnicity.

The Sultan made the call in Akure, Ondo State while delivering a public lecture organised to commemorate 2019 Ulefunta, an annual traditional festival being celebrated by the Paramount Ruler of Akure Kingdom, Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade.

The lecture with the theme: “Our Diversity, A Divine Gift and Blessing Untapped: Surmounting the Challenges of the Management of Our Diversity” attracted dignitaries including traditional rulers from within and outside the state, the academia and captains of industries. Abubakar said there are criminals in every ethnic group and in every nationality.

“The criminalisation of ethnicity and the ethnicisation of criminality, which we seem to relish and promote, will not benefit anyone.

“The fact of the matter is that there are criminals in every group and in every nationality. It is a human trait not an ethnic trait. Some of this criminality is economic related and will abate once we create jobs and prosperity,” Abubakar said.

He added that Nigeria’s diversity should be seen as an advantage and not be seen as a problem, saying all over the world diversity remains a means to enhance growth and development of various ethnic group and the nations at larger.

He said: “Studies have shown that the more diverse the society the richer the human ingenuity and the more enterprising the milieu, giving vent to remarkable development and stronger the economy.

“Diversity is not a liability; it is an asset, a critical one at that. Diversity is not the problem; it is the management of diversity that is often the problem.”

The Sultan noted that it’s the responsibility of all Nigerians to come together to fight the extremists and criminals among the people of the country, flush them out of the system and make the good people to live their normal lives.

Speaking earlier, Ondo State Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, urged Nigerians to look beyond their religious differences and give importance to the unity of this country. The governor emphasised that religion should be seen as a unifying factor rather than a doctrine that is meant to divide us.

Akeredolu said he was glad that immediately the Sultan arrived Akure on Sunday, he held a meeting with the state religious leaders under the auspices of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council on the need to shun religious crisis.

“I must appreciate the fact that you had the opportunity, sir, to attend a meeting with our state religious leaders on how to form amity among religions because here, particularly in Ondo State, and most parts of the southern Nigeria, a number of families, if not most
families, have Christians and Muslims co-existing as family members.

“Also, we have husbands and wives belonging to different religions. And usually, it is easier for us to point to our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is an Alhaji and his wife, a Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

“When we were growing up here as children, we celebrate Muslim festivals with our friends. We would go to their houses and eat in the same bowl. During our own festivals as Christians, they would come to us and they would even sow dresses and we wouldn’t even know the difference.

“This has changed. But I am sure that we will get back sooner to embrace ourselves because we are one and religion should not divide us

“Hausa and our people have lived together for very long time. When we have one or two security problems, I am of the opinion that they are not with those who have been living with us.

“They are with those who are just strangers. Even those living with us don’t know them. Those living with us are peaceful and they have become part of us. Unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable,” Akeredolu said.

The governor described the visit of the Sultan as a golden handshake across the Niger, saying this would be cherished for a long time in the state.