Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III: powerful yet magnanimous

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With all the power of his position as Sultan and President of Jama’atul Nasril Islam in Nigeria, I met a leader who is simple, accessible, humble, generous and witty; all rolled into one. All individuals, groups, and organizations that have visited this Sultan at different times, came away with a lasting impression of a leader, a father, and protector.

Aside from past interactions in the course of my work as a journalist which was simple courtesy in appreciation of our work, there was no further contact. I got caught unawares recently when this Sultan not only recognized me but engaged me one-on-one chat. He asked after my family and posed questions that elicited answers to a father who is interested in the welfare and affairs of his people. Of course, that is one of the hallmarks of leadership. His candor resonated in me. He has shown generosity by granting me audience a few more times after that.

The Sultan’s openness is indicative of a leader who is not blinded by sentiments. He had openly remarked on several occasions that everyone living in Sokoto is at home. As an honest leader, he lives out his commitment which ensures that Sokoto has remained peaceful. I have observed that no matter the provocation in other parts of the country (Nigeria), passion may be inflamed among the youth but they never got out of proportion. That is proof of a society and environment where respect for elders and leaders is still in vogue. I thought this is something which those in authority (government, traditional and religious) should emulate for the sustenance of unity in Nigeria. Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III has never hidden his disdain for violence. He spoke out severally against acts of terrorism by Boko Haram and other forms of violence elsewhere in other parts of the country. I thought most people who impute negative happenings against him, possibly have no idea of the person and style of the man.

I was lucky to know Sokoto when the late Sultan Siddique Abubakar III was reigning. The peace and tranquility witnessed during his time are being sustained even now (despite the change in time and circumstances). Having lived with the people of the Caliphate for decades, it is right to say that they have never been provoked to act in ways that should give the caliphate bad name. I thought that is commendable.

It is no surprise therefore that I saw Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah rode on horseback during a durbar to salute the Sultan during the ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of his installation as Sultan of Sokoto. Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III in my view is an exemplary leader.

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