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“Sokoto is the place with an extraordinary history of faith, of tolerance, and scholarship in all of it forms. And it is special because the teachings of religion and ethics are prioritized alongside the virtues of reading, writing, math and science”-
The above quote is the words of John Kerry former US Secretary of State & the first US foreign Secretary in history to visit Sokoto Caliphate, on the 23rd of August 2016.
I decided to use his words to introduce this piece as a flash back and a reminder of the status of the Caliphate in the mirror of not only Nigeria, Africa or the Islamic world, but the world over. However, this noble history is about to be tainted negatively by desperate politicians in the state who want to hide in the garment of the Sultanate to score some political points, albeit baselessly.
Because never in the history of Sokoto politics has the Sultanate dominates political discuss in the state than this moment of uncertainties accusations and counter accusations against and in support of the Sultanate.
That’s why as a citizen and a concern Muslim, I penned this piece to warn politicians against dragging the palace into politics, because it is a negative trend that will not augur well with the qualities and the history of the Caliphate as accurately captured by Secretary Kerry from the above quotation.
Politics it is said, is a dirty game embedded by lies, deceit, mischief, mudslinging and all other evil associated with fierce contest for power. Power that is not founded in anyway on the doctrine of Islam or morality which the Caliphate is famous for advocating throughout history.
Therefore, politicians must leave that noble and sacred palace out of their discuss. Every politician must campaign on their merit, not on the pretence of defending the sanctity of the Sultanate. For it is palace respected by all and sundry globally. There is no question of who is in support or against the Caliphate.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, Sokoto state has had successive administrations that came and go, but never has the Sultanate and it sanctity become a subject of electioneering on the podium, until now that some unscrupulous elements deemed it fit to use the Sultanate as cover for what they did or did not do to seek election victory at the polls.
And it all started with the buying of a guest house in Abuja for the Sultanate by the present administration in the state, a process that was initially shrouded in secrecy before it leaked out, which forced the government to go on the defensive over the decision. That singular act didn’t resonate well with the people in the state, because of the way the whole thing was handled and executed by the state government. Then came the issue of education levy. A monthly deductions of worker salary introduced by this administration to fund education.
From its inception, many people started raising eyebrows regarding the accountability and transparency of how the funds will be utilised. That too, generated a heated argument that compelled Governor Tambuwal to intervene during a press conference, to shed some light on the status of the funds and how it is intended to be use. And at that time, the Governor informed journalists that the account has so far, some 500 millions, which he said when it reached a billion by the end of the year in 2017, the money will be handed over to the education intervention committee that is headed by the His Eminence, Sultan.
However, this year, when the Governor was asked on the status of the levy account during BBC Hausa organised Gubernatorial debate, he replied by claiming total ignorance of the account and how it is been utilized. He therefore, impliedly refer the questioner to the Sultanate. But his respnse generated scepticism among people and again, the levy became a subject for public discuss on various social media platforms. People were wondering how a Governor who clear statement in 2017 acknowledge that his following progress of the account, will all of a sudden turned around in 2019 to claim ignorance of it?
And now few days to Gubernatorial and house of assembly elections, some crop of politicians are alleging that their opposition are making derogatory comments about the Sultanate. A move to sow the seeds of discord between them and the palace, just for political gains. Which I interpret as nailing the coffin of the Governor, because he is the one that brought the Sultanate in this whole quagmire. An experience we never had before during his predecessors.
In this regard therefore, I urged both the ruling party and the opposition to shun the Sultanate and sell their candidates based on their own merit. Because, the Sultan is a father for all, regardless of political party affiliations.
And the consequences of dragging the palace into politics, if not immediately halted, could be dire and the resultant effect could go a long way in damaging the image of that sacred dynasty.
A stitch in time, save nine. As the saying goes.
Usama Dandare, a social commentator write from Sokoto.