by Muhammad Mustapha,
My over four-hour journey from Abuja to Kano was eventful, if not for the craters and gullies that dotted the Kaduna-Kano section of the expressway.
Apart from that, another issue that keep buzzing in my mind was the army of young men at various traffic intersections right from Dei-dei and Zuba in Abuja, through the Kadua tollgate, Nnamdi Azikiwe Bypass and Kawo in Kaduna, and those at the Dangi Roundabout and Gidan Murtala in Kano- all running from one vehicle to another dangling their wares under the scorching sun looking for buyers.
And despite this young men and ladies’ herculean struggle to eke out a living instead of resorting to crimes, someone will just open his mouth and describe these youngsters as lazy and that is why they are poor.
I wouldn’t have bothered much if the person that made the statement is one nondescript ninkompop, faraway hauled up in another planet.
I am yet to deconstruct the glaring irony that the statement came from a traditional and religious leader, heading a revered institution like the Sultanate of Sokoto.
For starters, the sultanate was established by the revered Sheikh Usman bn Fodio in the 18th century, after an epic struggle with the oppressive Hausa leaders.
The sultanate was established on the tripartite pillars of justice, fairness and equity. The sultanate gave hope to the oppressed, the weak, and the women.
It is therefore disturbing that the Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar will have the nerves to betray the actual principles of the sultanate he’s heading to accuse these youngsters spending the whole day along the expressway desperately looking for halal, as lazy.
That is insulting, insensitive, callous and above all a grandstanding. By that statement, the sultan has really mocked the Northern youth, who are actually poor not because they are lazy, as the Sultan recklessly said, but because, their leaders and elites, which Sultan Sa’ad is part of, have squandered and destroyed their commonwealth.
His counterpart in Kano, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II recently released his own venom on northerners. He blamed us for the chronic poverty that is depriving us of our basic essence of humanity. At the same time, he was collecting N12million as monthly salary, spending over N5million on recharge card/data monthly, and spending hundreds millions on chartered flights.
The emir hasn’t showed us any infrastructure, even if it’s a public toilet he built for his emirate out of the over N4.6billion he squandered in less than three years.
While Sanusi’s insult is limited to the Kano people, that of Sa’ad has far reaching implications because of the position he held as leader of the Nigerian Muslim Ummah.
While the sultan was busy insulting us, his younger counterpart in Gombe is busy empowering his people with over 3000 indigent children in school under his scholarship.
What is the Sultan doing to alleviate the poverty of his people? Is the Sultan more hard working than the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano highway hawkers? Is riding a multi-million naira luxury car in a long motorcade, bought, maintained and fuelled by tax payers money, the Sultan’s defination of hard work?
Or is it fraternising with corrupt politicians and dubious businessmen, or cavorting on foreign trips and sleeping around posh hotels, another definition of hard work?
Is the Sultan’s legacy of confusing the Muslim Ummah on as simple issues as moon sighting another euphemism for hard work?
Since his emergence as the Sultan, the Nigerian Muslim Ummah is becoming more disunited than any time before.
The moon sighting committee in his palace has become moribund and ineffective. For instance, the Sultanate only announced the sighting of the month of Rajab about three days after the crescent appeared.
Why? Is it the northern youth laziness that is stopping the sultan from performing his elementary role of announcing the sighting of moons?
Do you still remember Professor Abubakar Aliyu Gwandu, the Special Adviser to the Sultan on Religious Matters and Chairman Sultanate Committee on Moon sighting?
Professor Gwandu resigned his dual position in 29 August, 2011 simply because of the sultan’s nonchallant attitude over moon sighting and other religious matters.
His interview on the Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service was mind-boggling to say the least. The Islamic scholar’s frustration over these issues compounded his health issues leading to his death.
The controversy over moon sighting was so apparent that emirates who are the Sultanate vassals like Gwandu, Yauri, Argungu, among others had to observed their fasting and Sallah celebrations differently in defiance of the Sultan’s arbitrariness.
Frankly, all this ceased to surprise me again after stumbling on a video clip of the Sultan’s interview with CNN’s African Voices.
On that interview aired on June 14, 2011, I heard the Sultan saying he wasn’t sure which of the religions- between Christianity and Islam- will take him to heaven.
I was dumbfounded to watch a Muslim leader, heading a 200-year-old Islamic caliphate casting doubt on his faith. Has he forgotten that the only religion in the sight of Allah is Islam? I am not well versed to engage in Islamic theology, but that statement was too heavy to bear.
For whatever reason, casting doubt on Islam as true religion that will lead Muslims to salvation by the Sulatn is tantamount to crossing the red line.
Finally, I want to humbly advice the monarch to redirect his outbursts towards the right direction. Laziness-induced poverty of the northern youth must have been responsible for the mass looting of the country’s treasury by their leaders.
The bludgeoning illiteracy level, high maternal mortality and morbidity rate, skyrocketing incidents of poverty, dilapidating infrastructure, insurgency, violent extremism, herders-farmers clashes, communal conflicts, religious intolerance ravaging the north are all caused by northern youths, according to Sultan’s fatwa.
Mustapha, a development specialist, writes from Abuja, Nigeria