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I have many offers to marry more wives, says new Sultan of Sokoto who has just one wife

Posted by By ABDULFATAH OLADEINDE on 2007/01/29 | Views: 930 |

I have many offers to marry more wives, says new Sultan of Sokoto who has just one wife


For the new Sultan, His Eminence Muhammad Saíad Abubakar III, offers for additional wives may well form part of the daunting considerations he must take along as he settles down to the challenges of the Sokoto caliphate.

For the new Sultan, His Eminence Muhammad Saíad Abubakar III, offers for additional wives may well form part of the daunting considerations he must take along as he settles down to the challenges of the Sokoto caliphate.

Alhaji Saíad Abubakar, a serving military officer until he ascended the throne on November 2, last year is married to one wife.

Although it is not a rule, none of the previous sultans over two centuries had just a wife.
And so when during a chat with journalists in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during the last hajj, the question was put to Sultan Saíad Abubakar if he was considering taking on more wives, he answered that the issue was private, adding, however, that whatever would happen would not be secret.

Then, the foremost traditional ruler revealed that already he had got offers for wives but quickly added that he had a lot of work on his hands.
He spoke about some of the reforms envisaged for the caliphate, his wish for Nigerian Muslims as their conventional head and the recent pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, which he led as Amirul hajj and head of Federal Government delegation.
The interview below:

Youíre like a breath of fresh air on an ancient throne, the Sokoto Caliphate. You didnít expect your ascension. Allah made it possible. Whatís your feeling about this?
My feelings are just normal. I feel elated and give thanks to Almighty Allah for making it possible to be on the throne of my forefathers. I feel highly accomplished as an individual. Talking about fresh air, I donít know what you mean. If you talk about may be me being a modern Sultan in a modern society coupled with the fact that the Sokoto Caliphate is over 200 years old and being an ancient caliphate founded by my forefathers, Iíll say well, the caliphate has been a revolutionist one. It came in to revolutionise our ways of life through the tenets of Islam.

That was what the caliphate was meant to be.
Your eminence, are you satisfied with the state of affairs in Sokoto now?
Are you referring to Sokoto town or Sokoto State? Well, Iím the Sultan of Sokoto. I donít have dealings with only Sokoto State. I have dealings with larger society because when you talk about the caliphate, it extends beyond Nigeria. So, Sokoto is just a small community of the caliphate. Are you asking about Sokoto town or Sokoto State government or traditional affairs?
Holistically, Sokoto State, thatís what I mean.

Sokoto State is okay. Iím just settling down. I have very good rapport with the governor and all the people of Sokoto. When I was appointed, the tumultuous reception showed that people were happy with the choice. I am in very good terms with the government. We donít have any problem at all. We have the same purpose of advancing the cause of development of the society, we are, therefore, partners in progress.

Weíll like to know further what we should expect during your reign. How do you intend to improve upon what you inherited from your predecessors?
First, unity and cohesion of the Muslim Ummah (community) will be our utmost priority. This we intend to do by ensuring education for all. Education is the tool for progress and development in any society. Therefore, we canít afford to sit down, fold our arms and lag behind. We have to take up the challenge and ensure that all our youths wherever they are are educated to the highest level. The modern world has no place for illiterates. Therefore, both Islamic and Western education must be vigorously pursued by all Muslims. We will organise seminars and lectures involving all Muslims leaders and stakeholders in the country. Luckily, we have a high calibre of Islamic leaders all over the country. Weíll rely on them to give the guiding light in this effort.

Talking about modernising the caliphate, we intend to put the caliphate on the internet. We already have a V-sat being installed. Weíll upload on the internet historical books written by Usman Dan Fodio and his lieutenants so that anybody anywhere can access the web and get information on the caliphate. This is part of the reforms we intend to pursue. We also intend print these historical books in large numbers and distribute them to schools. The books cover not only Islam, but administration, accountancy, health and so on. Insha Allah, we expect to reach the level of success envisaged.
But the changes or reforms will not in anyway affect or go against the tenets of Islam as enshrined in the Holy Qurían and the tradition of Prophet Muhammed. The envisaged reforms will rather strengthen our faith in the Almighty and in our overall development in all aspects of life. Therefore, as an enlightened and a widely travelled person I am better placed to carry out the reforms.

By convention, your eminence, youíre the head of Muslims in Nigeria. The Muslim community is mostly threatened by suspicion. What do you intend to do to unify Nigerian Muslims?
If youíve been following my statements in national media and during courtesy calls and visits, Iíve always emphasised the need for us to live together in peace and harmony, because peaceful co-existence is of utmost importance to any society. It is of paramount importance to ensure that we live in a very peaceful atmosphere with everybody, including our non-Muslim brothers because the teachings of Islam emphasise that we live with one another peacefully. Youíll recall that the most noble prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) lived with non-Muslims and the Jews. He even married a Jew. Thereís need for us to hold on to the Islamic tenets and the teachings, which the Qurían and Sunnah emphasise. And among the tenets is peaceful co-habitation. This, weíll pursue vigorously.

Your eminence, whatís delaying the planned rehabilitation of the National Mosque in Abuja?
You know I just came into office. Before I came in, there were some little problems of changes in the sense that the then chairman of the management committee, the then emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo, was removed and a new chairman, the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, was appointed. Before they could start work, the patron, the Sultan of Sokoto, died. And since I came on board, Iíve had briefs from stakeholders. I was briefed on the amount realised from the appeal fund launch and how the money is being kept. Just after my appointment, I got involved in the Hajj exercise. So, I havenít really settled down to face the work of the Sultan. Insha Allah, after the hajj and the coronation, weíll settle down and youíll see action. Iím sure the Federal Government is ready and willing to release the fund for the renovation of the mosque, which is really in a very bad shape. Since it was built, there was no maintenance carried out on it. Itís a sad episode. We really intend to address it squarely. Itís a national monument, not just the national mosque, which tourists from outside the country can visit.

Can you please tell us how much is earmarked for the renovation?
An appeal fund was launched and a certain amount realised. The Governor of Nasarawa State, Adamu Abdullahi, is the one keeping the fund, because he is the chairman of the appeal fund committee. Weíll settle down to have meetings in due course. I canít say how much was realised, but the money is in the bank.

How has the pilgrimage been for Nigerians?
Alhamdulillahi, this year we have had one of the most successful hajj operations in the history of the country. We had a very smooth, hitch-free airlift from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia. We airlifted 64,847 pilgrims who paid through the pilgrims boards, besides the 15,000 who came through the international route. All of them were airlifted to Jeddah before the closure of the international airport. It was the first time in so many years that Nigeria did not ask for extension of time to bring in our pilgrims.
And things have improved tremendously, we were able to airlift more than 50,000 pilgrims who went to Medinah before the closure of Jeddah Airport. We just have only about 15,000 who left for Medinah after the completion of hajj exercise. Normally, what we do have before was that a large number of pilgrims would start going to Medinah after the completion of the hajj rites. We thank Almighty Allah for this success.

What rights will you advocate for Muslims in Nigeria during your reign?
We all know we live in a secular country, going by the constitution, which guarantees rights of all citizens. Muslims are not exempted from these rights. But weíll ensure that we practise our religion in a free and conducive atmosphere at all times. This, the government must guarantee by providing enabling environment. Weíll not fold our arms if our right to practise our religion is tampered with or trampled upon by anybody.
On a lighter note, we understand that you married one wife. Now, as the Sultan when do we expect you to take on more?
Itís not written in any book that you must marry more wives.
It is the convention that no Sultan had just one wife?
You hardly see my wife, so if I have 100 you donít even know.

We know itís just one at the moment.
Itís not written in any book that the Sultan must marry more than one wife. These are private affairs that should be left very very private. Whatever is going to happen, youíll see it. Itís not going to be a secret thing, because we are a gold fish. We have no hiding place. You know very well (turning to renowned columnist and former chairman of Editorial Board of Vanguard Newspaper, Alhaji Kola Animasaun,) that somebody offered me a wife from the South. You know I already have offer. I have many offers from all over. But I have a lot on my hands. I have a lot of work to do. Iíll face my work first. We thank Almighty Allah for the guidance without which we would not have been anywhere.

What is your vision about politics in Nigeria? Soon we would be having elections, what advice have you for the politicians?
In my message during the Eid, we urged the politicians to go about politics in a gentleman way. This, they have to do without violence, without rancour and the idea of winner takes all. If you win an election, you should carry everybody along. If you lose, be courageous to go along with the winner to build a country all of us would be proud of. We are not politicians, but we shall always call on them to be just in whatever they do. This will definitely bring to us development. In the process they will be able to think of the common man.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.