Sultan of Sokoto, Dr Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III has laid the blame of the present insecurity and other associated challenges afflicting the north squarely at the feet of the region itself.
The Sultan who is also the president, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and president-general of the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI) maintained that dialogue with any aggrieved party will always remain a better option than violence or force.
He said though traditional and religious leaders have played their parts, they were not relenting in their efforts until the challenges are permanently solved.
He, however, lamented the inability of the relevant government authorities to implement a series of excellent recommendations that will help to address the challenges.
The meeting of the Northern Governors Peace and Reconciliation Committee was attended by the Sultan and the leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
“Let us sit and freely talk and articulate positions that will bring us out of the quagmire we have found ourselves in. it is important that the religious and traditional rulers from our various states sit together so that each and every one of us will talk freely,” the Sultan said.
He continued, “Whatever is happening in the North is our own doing, because we did not do what we were supposed to do. And since we know that, we have to solve our problems ourselves. So, I think, it is not a bad idea that the committee was set up.
“We wrote a memo of about nine pages or thereabouts covering various issues affecting the country and the north in particular to the then acting president and now President Goodluck Jonathan. It was at the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) where we suggested solutions to the problems.
“Northern Council of Traditional Rulers also met and proposed solutions to the problems of the north to the governors, but we don’t know what happened to the recommendations at the various authorities.
“If our recommendations had been implemented, we would have been singing a different tune ion handling the challenges.”
On insinuations being made in some quarters about the country being Islamized, the Sultan said no person can either Islamize or Christianize the country.
“If anyone thinks he can Islamize or Christianize the country, he is dreaming.”
He also stated that politicians must have the fear of God in whatever they do. “If they want to solve the problem of this country, they will do so because they have the resources.”
“There is little religious leaders can do without the support of the constitutional right to do certain things, but we must always watch our utterances and in making comments we cannot substantiate.”
On his own part, John Cardinal Onaiyekan attributed the security challenges facing the north and the country in general to the high level of poverty in the region and country.
He also added that another aspect of the problem was associated to religion. He said that the bad image of the country has spread in the outside world and there was a need for the stakeholders to address the issue with the view to ending the problems permanently.
He said Christianity and Islam should not be seen as an accident of history, but as God’s design and it cannot be changed by anyone. He added that the main problem was bad governance and once that is tackled head-on, all other problems will be tackled too.
Earlier, in their opening remarks, the chairman of the committee, Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim and a committee member, Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah, expressed the committee’s commitment to discharging its responsibilities with all fairness.