#SultanAt10: A Quiet Leader That Just Was Not There

Sultan of Sokoto, President-General NSCIA


Amirul Mumineen Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III is a quiet man. So quiet that it appears he is mostly not there.

The esteemed leader of Nigeria’s Muslims does not put himself in the front of affairs. Of course it is safer to not be seen and criticized as a part of difficult and trying politico-social and religious affairs, but then, the question is: what is the role of a leader?

I believe a leader is more than a title. A leader has several important roles:

He is the representative- this means, he not only rules over the people but he speaks for them and ensures his community is looked at with respect and dignity.

He is the voice of his people.

He regulates: a good leader monitors what is happening in his community and prevents and resolves crises and conflicts within it.

He mediates and represents: a good leader is the vital connection between his community and other communities and the national government or/and foreign governments as applies. This is the person that ensures that his and all people are treated fairly and get proper representation and justice at local, national and international levels as applies. He has the government or foreign government’s ears as applies. The commoner’s voice cannot be heard unless he protests, he does not have to protest if he has a good leader. It is the leader’s duty to hear the issues of the weakest individuals and provide them respite by applying his resources or advocating and fighting on his behalf.

Leadership is a duty the great men of the past shied from. The great Caliphs would not sleep knowing that one person was deprived in their community. They asked those who tried to help them, whether they will carry their burden on judgement day.

The great Caliphs used to disguise and go out at night to see if there was a single member of the community who was being deprived. They would carry grain sacks on their shoulders to go and give to these deprived individuals.

Leadership is not an opportunity but a responsibility. It is a trust.

It is reported that when Caliph Umar Bin Abdul Aziz of the wealthy Umayyad caliphate’s wife asked to talk to him about domestic issues as he worked one night, he told her to turn off the government lamp as he would not use the light of government oil to discus his private affairs. This compares to leaders today who usurp the sustenance of the people they are honored to serve.

“But, please put off this State lamp and light your own, as I do not want to burn the State oil for private talk.”

Best Image Seller: the best way to market a brand is by example. Minorities cannot be endangered in a community and feel they like those people who opress and are aggressive towards them. It is therefore a good leader’s job to ensure that the weak and all minorities are protected within his community as this is a key selling point. If Christian minorities are killed in the north and those who killed them are sentenced to death under the leadership of the Sultan, this will draw people to his fold. The reverse will make people look at him and his in bad light and run from his creed.


The ten years of Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III’s reign have unfortunately been filled with blood, sorry, pain and tears. And the pain, blood, fitna(mischief) and death continues to this day of celebration.

The Muslim north of Nigeria did not have a day of peace. The typical northern intolerant riots continued as did the Jos Fulani-farmer battles. Jos burned as did Kaduna. The ten years saw some of the worst radical riots in Nigeria’s history with this ultimately culminating in the Boko Haram insurgency.

When Boko Haram started bombing Churches every Sunday, there was anger among Nigeria’s Christians because they did not hear words of condemnation from the nation’s Muslim leadership. Sheikh Gumi, Muslims Against Terror, late Sheikh Albani Zaria, Pakistani and a few others, with their daring vocal condemnation of Boko Haram saved Nigeria from spiralling into a full blown religious war as the Christian Association at the time gave up and declared it was time to fight back what was perceived as a concerted Muslim attack on Christianity.

Boko Haram seemed like to be something the northern Muslim elite was comfortable with. There were loud calls in the press for the Sultan to condemn the terrorists and thus discourage it from gathering new recruits, but until the Christmas bombing which sparked global anger, there was hardly a word from the central Muslim leadership against Boko Haram. People like Bamanga Tukur even said and remain celebrated after saying that “Boko Haram was fighting for justice.” It was noticed that it was when the APC got it together and prepared to challenge president Jonathan that at last, loud, clear and unambiguous condemnations of the group’s activities first came from Buhari and the Sultan.

In 2013, I wrote an article, “There Is A Darkness Over the North.” In it I thoroughly described the problems of the lack of leadership in the north, the silence, the lies and missteps.

Of all countries in the world, why did Nigeria and its north birth Boko Haram; the world’s deadliest terror organisation? This is clearly a leadership problem. For five years Boko Haram ravaged Nigeria’s north and there was no condemnation and call to order of president Jonathan by the “silent” Sultan.

Muslims especially of Kanuri extraction were left to be slaughtered and destroyed and there was no aggressive raising the case of the deadly ineptness of president Jonathan by the Amirul-muumin of Nigeria at the UN level and other international levels.

The Sultan of Sokoto was unable to leverage the Saudis, the Qataris and Kuwaitis. The Organisation of Islamic countries and other Muslim organisations he had leverage and represented Nigeria with, to come to the rescue of Nigeria’s north and establish a coalition and donate bomber jets and drones to help us defeat Boko Haram.

While many of us tore pant and shirt screaming about Boko Haram under Jonathan and many of us volunteered as Civilian-JTF and made the ultimate sacrifice, losing our lives battling Boko Haram, the silence of the leader of Muslims as the mostly El-Kanemi empire fell was worrisome.

When the Sultan loudly defended a lecturer arrested on suspicion of terror, I had to respectfully openly urged him to act otherwise. In December of 2013 I wrote an article, “RE: “JNI – Release Dr. Mohammed Yunus.” Let Us Be Circumspect.”

Permit me to end this with a quote from the end of that December 2013 article:

“At this time also I would implore equal concern for all the youth who are sacrificing as the Civilian JTF in Borno, many dying and for those who are no-name brothers and sisters incarcerated in the north east. We should intervene and be involved in their cases with investigation and assistance as we are for this doctor.

“We must be proactive in defending our society, and then we will have less of such complications. On our part, we at ENDS have imported equipment to Nigeria, which includes walkie-talkie sets which we are in the process of giving to the Civilian JTF to assist their communication with the shoddy or severed network services, and tasers to help them to arrest suspects by immobilization and not death when encounters are risky. We implore noble organizations like the JNI to be in the front row, actively involved in not just defending one, but defending all Muslims and non Muslims, as is the duty of Muslims, that by God’s grace our society will be safe again soon.”

Dr. Peregrino Brimah; @EveryNigerian