Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, clocked 61 years today. The first class monarch and spiritual head of Nigeria’s Muslims comes from a long line of distinguished leaders who sacrificed their time and energy for the upliftment of their societies.
Sultan Sa’ad has distinguished himself among his peers by leading the fight against social vices and longstanding disdain for global standards especially from within his immediate environment.
One of his important contributions to socio-economic issues was in the fight against polio. After the voice of skeptics stunted the progress in efforts to eliminate the poliomyelitis virus, Sultan mobilized religious and traditional rulers in the North to key into the programme. The change of perception, and rejection of the vaccine, was reversed.
In the North at the moment, the Sultan has become a leading advocate for girl-child education.
His love for education pushed him to set up a foundation which is coordinating efforts to establish an all-female medical university in Sokoto.
In the search for peace and communal harmony, the Sultan forged a close bond with Cardinal John Onaiyekan to lead other Nigerians to embrace religious tolerance and respect each others’ beliefs.
Having distinguished himself in various assignments at home and abroad, Sultan Sa’ad is breaking barriers by lending his voice to ensure politics of bitterness is eliminated from the polity.
While many of his achievements are not in dispute, I think one of the most important, and invariably less appreciated, is the unity he has brought to Nigerian Muslims from the North and South, and from all sects and creeds.
In Sokoto, he’s not just a father-figure to all, he has instructed traditional rulers to key into government programs while at the same time serving as voices of the people when presenting public issues to those in power.
His humility, forthrightness, sense of justice and fairness, have endured him to all classes of people. On this auspicious day in his life, I pray to God to make his reign long. May it also continue to usher in peace and tranquility to our dear nation.
Happy birthday, Hifzullahi Uban Musulmi.