BY Magnus Onyibe
His eminence, Saad Abubaker lll, the sultan of sokoto’s admonition that God does not make mistakes, must have struck strong chords in the hearts of members of both the Islamic and Christian Faiths in Nigeria.The assumption above is underscored by the fact that people of the two major religions believe there is one God. That is a fundamental and critical point of convergence and common ground.
The main point of divergence in both religions is that Muslims believe in Muhammad as prophet of God while Christians believe in Jesus Christ as son of God.
As individuals in our homes or offices, people differ in their views, opinions and beliefs , yet they, more often than not, remain same family or colleagues.
Apparently, president Muhamadu Buhari shares the belief because in his Sallah message, over the weekend, he entrusted the unity of Nigeria to God and made reference to the African proverb which states that “ A family tie is like a tree,it can bend but it can’t break”.
So, in my considered opinion, bringing the omnipotence of the almighty God into the issue of a United Nigeria by the sultan, is a master stroke that’s bound to resonate with the protagonists and antagonists in the current war of words over the vexed issue of whether to restructure or break up Nigeria.
By inviting God into the matter of national unity and continuos existence of Nigeria as a sovereign entity , the ebullient sultan seem to have brought in a new perspective which could be referred to as a paradigm shift in the dialogue which has so far featured incendiary comments from both sides of the debate that have frayed nerves.
In a presentation during a recent Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC talk shop in abuja , the leader of the Muslim Faith in Nigeria sued for a peaceful resolution of the schism through dialogue because the formation of Nigeria is divine by stating that “Because we didn’t fall from the sky, we came from somewhere. We became Nigeria in 1914 through amalgamation. People are shouting that our coming together as a country in 1914 was mistake, but God doesn’t make mistakes. If God doesn’t want such a thing as Nigeria to happen, nobody could ever have made it happen.”
He added“If restructuring will make life better and convenient, then the think-tank, after their work, would call for stakeholders dialogue for the way forward,”. In a nutshell, what the sultan is advocating is that as a nation, Nigerians should celebrate what binds us, not what divides us as we are currently doing by driving a wedge between the multifarious ethnic groups and religions in the country through hate speeches.On the first day of October every year, we celebrate INDEPENDENCE DAY.
That’s because on that date in 1960,Nigeria secured independence from British colonial rule. But in 1914, the north and southern protectorates of the British empire were amalgamated by fiat. And Sultan Abubakar lll has now dimensioned the union of the north and south by the Britain as God’s design which is quite refreshing .As earlier stated, sultan’s perspective is quite illuminating and offers a common ground for dialogue. As we say in Christian marriages “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder”. And that’s what the highly respected monarch appearing to be echoing.
That makes a God focused and sustained path to peace in Nigeria , now open for exploration.To that effect, it behoves of religious leaders of the two major faiths practiced in Nigeria, as well as traditional rulers from both the north and south, to seize the initiative from some unscrupulous politicians who selfishly exploit Nigerians by dwelling on what divides us more than what binds us as a nation.To build on sultan Abubakar lll introduction of God into the initiative for peaceful and sustainable existence of Nigeria, l would like to recommend the cementing of the marriage between the north and south,by proposing that Nigeria should start celebrating AMALGAMATION DAY.
Obviously, Independence day celebration became a prominent annual event marked with pomp and pageantry in Nigeria because our former colonial masters, Britain, initiated it. Since more often than not,our leaders were led by the nose by the colonialists and are still caught up in neocolonial mindset, instead of having their own initiative of making 1914 an epochal occasion that marked our unification, OCTOBER 1st 1960 Independence Day, has become one of the most important dates celebrated in our country .Meanwhile 1914,being the day the north and south were joined in sovereign wedlock,and therefore a watershed as well as a divine date, as attested to by the sultan, has been relegated and neglected.
Put succinctly, instead of AMALGAMATION DAY being given a pride of place that it deserves and celebrated as it should, Independence Day from Britain has been taking center stage in Nigeria. As a path way to national unity which most Nigerians are yearning for, the presidency must without further delay send to the National Assembly, NASS, a bill to proclaim national AMALGAMATION DAY to be celebrated by all Nigerians.That is one way we can focus on the chords that bind us which are aplenty,as opposed to dwelling on factors that divide us.
To confirm the socioeconomic linkages between Nigerians across the northern and southern parts ,nostalgic stories have been told of Okonkwo and Sons shop-a trading point established by an lgbo man in Kano state-several decades ago.The shop grew to become a thriving commercial post that later transformed into a town now known as Kwakwanso. It is from that town that Musa Kwakwanso, a former two times governor of Kano state and now a serving senator hails from and origin of his name.
As a news correspondent in Nigeria Television Authority, NTA Newsline several years ago in the mid 1980s, l followed a cattle trail from the northern to eastern parts of Nigeria and met an Hausa man,named Musa in Enugu who was born there when his parents were located there several decades ago,in the cause of trading cattle.He spoke flawless lgbo and without Hausa accent or inflections to the extent that, l could not have known that he was Hausa, if he had not been identified as such.
He too had started bearing offsprings that had become deeply entrenched in lgbo culture and way of life. If both Okonkwo in Kano and Musa did not find their far flung locations from their native homes accommodating, they would not have flourished. It is thus very heart warming to learn that before the divisive politics of the north and south being fueled by policy shifts and sometimes outright breach of the 1999 constitution by later day political leaders now threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria as it has been since 1914, people of the north and south co-existed harmoniously.
To be continued on leadership.ng.