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Sultan as last resort to ending the Boko Haram debacle?
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saád Abubakar, recently broke his silence on some national issues such as the controversy over Islamic banking, Ramadan moon sighting as well as the way forward for the Boko Haram debacle. Bello Gusau, who was there, brings the excerpts.
If really it takes two to tango, then the activities of the Islamic sect, Jamaátu Ahlul Sunnah Lil Daáwati Wal Jihad, otherwise known as the Boko Haram, could soon be a thing of the past. This is in view of the gesture made by one of the leaders of the Islamic sect who expressed the group’s readiness to enter into peace talks with the Federal Government on condition that people of impeccable character such as the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saád Abubakar, would accept to broker the peace talks. By this pronouncement, the leaders of the sect have made a call.
Interestingly, the Sultan made clear his readiness to wade into the crisis with a view to bringing to an end, the increasing toll of the loss of lives and casualties associated with the Boko Haram saga in the country but with a matching condition that they must cease to be faceless. By his pronouncement, the Sultan has answered the call made by the sect leaders. Going by his pedigree as a retired military general who, as a commander, was trained on how to handle war situations and even excesses of news hounds , an elite and someone who approaches issues with modernity coupled with the respect he commands from the Nigerian Muslim class including the Boko Haram leaders as evidenced in the plea for his intervention by the sect leader, nobody should doubt that the Sultan has all it takes to resolve the crisis once and for all, if given the mandate to do so.
The occasion had been the annual breakfast organised by the Sultan, last week, in honour of some journalists in Sokoto State, held at his palace in Kanwuri area of Sokoto.
Sultan Saád, who stated this, while speaking at the breakfast, perhaps in a reaction to the Boko Haram leader who spoke two days earlier, precisely on Friday 5th August on Radio France International (RFI), said that he had been briefed on the radio stations airing. He said people had formed the habit of picking up their mobile phones to call RFI to claim being Boko Haram leaders when the leaders were still faceless.
He, nonetheless, said that if they were of the view that he should handle the issue, then in doing so, he would simply ask the Boko Haram people to stop attacks and come out from their places of hiding. He added that he would likewise, ask the Federal Government to order a stop to the activities of the Joint Task Force (JTF), in order for dialogue between the government and the sect leaders to commence.
The Sultan, however, said that since the Ambassador Gaji Galtimari-led committee set up by the federal government had swung into action, the committee members should reach out to the Boko Haram so that the country could get out of the crisis.
He said anybody who was of the view that the government should not dialogue with leaders of the sect did not wish this country well.
“I don’t like how the military is involved in the matter. The military must adhere to the rule of engagement so as to minimise casualties as the Fighting In the Built Up Area (FIBUA) is the biggest task in military operations.”
He said that was why there were serious casualties in the crisis which had resulted in scores of people fleeing Maiduguri.
The Sultan who reasoned that because the Boko Haram saga was a complex one, saying no one knew where they are or who they are, justifying the reason why the government needed to order the military to cease fire and the Boko Haram to stop attacks. He also appealed that the government should try to find out why their leader was killed while the Ambassador Galtimari committee should act fast to bring out the actual sect leaders to broker a peace dialogue, saying that this would prevent further loss of lives especially during this holy month of Ramadan.
Commenting in the controversial issues regarding Islamic banking and sighting of Ramadan moon which had taken the centre stage of national discourse, Sultan Saád said there was nothing Islamic about Islamic banking just as he refuted the insinuation that the Ramadan moon sighting caused disunity among the Muslim Ummah.
He posited that the much touted Islamic banking, was just an economic venture.
According to him majority of Nigerians who were complaining about the banking system decided to be chasing shadows by leaving the real issues of substance bothering the country that needed urgent attention such as high cost of food items, insecurity and so on.
“Banks concern big men who have plenty of money to save. And majority of Nigerians are struggling to get even two square meals a day. It is high time we faced the actual problems plaguing us”, he said.
The Sultan, however, expressed happiness over some positive comments from some Christian leaders on Islamic banking which he said had greatly helped in dousing the unnecessary tension generated by the banking system.
On the purported controversy over sighting of Ramadan moon, the Sultan said it was as a result of the zeal by many to be religious leaders.
“The problem with Nigerians is that everybody who can speak Arabic language is a Sheikh (Muslim cleric) and therefore a leader. This is a serious problem”, he said.
He added that the hues and cries generated by the moon sighting was due to lack of knowledge on the stipulated procedure for the sighting of moon in Islam.
He said in order to ensure accuracy, the Sultanate council had procured six binoculars, one in each of the 6 geo-political zones of the country to aid moon sighting in Nigeria. The Sultan said besides this, there is a national committee on moon sighting headed by Group Captain Usman Jibrin (retired) headquartered in Kaduna which works in collabo-ration with 36 states moon sighting committee as well as all the Muslim traditional rulers in the country.