Associating with other religious leaders, my greatest challenge – Sultan

He also charged that the country must be taken back from those ‘so-called religious leaders’ who influence their followers against one another.

Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto

Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III has recalled that sitting side by side with other religious leaders as the newly installed Sultan and head of Muslim community in Nigeria was his greatest challenge.

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He spoke in Sokoto when he received members of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) during a courtesy visit to his palace. The Bishops were led by the President, Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze.

Abubakar III noted that, as a newly crowned Sultan of Sokoto and head of Muslim faithful in the country, he had many voices against his mingling with other faith leaders, especially Christian leaders.

The monarch, who noted the task to establish needed unity, peace, as well as creating mutual understanding among leaders of other religions, has been his focus since his twelve years on the throne.

“I must tell you that sitting side by side with other religious leaders as the Sultan was my greatest challenge. Some are not comfortable with that. But I always referred them to what our Holy Prophet (SAW) did during his time,” the Sultan recounted.

The Sultan commended the Catholic Bishops for their sterling leadership within the Christian fold.

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He described as ‘normal’ the rocketing religious crisis recorded in some part of the country, adding that with the unity of purpose such crises can be curtailed.

“Yes, we have a common problem, and also a common agenda as Muslims and Christians. But there are no problems without solution, and I believe if we are committed we can overcome our problem.

“If out of 365 days in a year, people only experienced disagreement or crisis for 2 or 15 days in that year, I think the situation is still normal because there is no crime-free society.

“All is not well with Nigeria. We also need to tell ourselves the truth in order to set us free. There are many things that bind us together than the few things that separate us,” Sultan explained.

The Sultan urged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of brotherhood and always seek peace for the sake of humanity.

He also charged that the country must be taken back from those ‘so-called religious leaders’ who influence their followers against one another.

Speaking earlier, CBCN President Archbishop Akubeze said the Christian representatives were in the palace to thank the Sultan for providing quality leadership for Muslims in Nigeria.

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According to him: “We have come to let you know that we have high respect for your position and leadership. You have provided rare leadership in moments of conflict. Your condemnation of acts of terrorism, even when it is perpetuated by some radical Muslim fundamentalists, is worthy of praise.”

He commended the Sultan for his continued willingness to dialogue with Christians, saying “this dialogue has been going on between Your Eminence and the Catholic Church.”

Akubeze said the Church was willing and ready to work with the Sultan in promoting better a relationship between Christians and Muslims in the country.