By Bashir Adefaka
Celebrating Sallah, be it Eid-el-Fitri or Eid-el-Adha, in Sokoto is always memorable. This is because it relates the history of the Nigeria’s influential community and tells the story of the unity of the Ummah.
Usman Dan Fodio, also called Usman Bin Fodio, had brothers and friends who, in later life, either became Emirs in places outside Sokoto or got ranks in the Sultanate. Direct younger brother of Dan Fodio was Abdullahi. While the elder brother grew through the ranks of the Khalifa (Calipha) to be called the Sultan, his younger brother, who was actually the Wazirin Sokoto during his time, that is, the second-in-command to the Khalifa, Abdullahi, went on to become the Emir of Gwandu based on the will of the Khalifa after it became clear to him (Abdullahi) that his efforts to succeed his elder brother was against the directive left behind by the great reformist, Usman Dan Fodio. The situation made Dan Fodio’s direct descendants the sole occupants of the throne while Abdullahi got his ascendancy to greatness as the Emir of Gwandu.
It is the reason the Sultan, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, because he knows the history of his ancestors, said in a joke, “Yes, there is Wazirin Sokoto”, particularly in the newly appointed Prof. Sambo Wali Junaidu “but the main Wazirin is this”, pointing to the Emir of Gwandu at the Sallah homage in a manner which sparked laughter.
This year’s Eid-el-Fitri in the Seat of the Caliphate came in three phases spread across three days and packed with interesting activities including the worship of Allah, the mini-Durbar, the governor’s Sallah homage to the Sultan, the Sultan’s return courtesy visit to the governor and the revisiting of history as demonstrated in the visit of the Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Bashar, accompanied by the Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Muhammad Samaila Argungu.
The activities started with the Sultan’s drive, on his return from Eid, round the metropolis to cheers by his subjects and fellow Muslims in town down ending the road show at the Palace Arcade where a mini-Durbar was already mounted.
Attended by the Mutawallen of the Caliphate, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and other eminent citizens of Sokoto, the Durbar provided the people of the predominantly Muslim community with the opportunity to felicitate as seen in the parade of horse riding, traditional gun-shooting, camel ride show among other activities that added glamour to Sallah in the core northern community.
The Durbar was immediately followed by the traditional Sallah home paid on the Sultan by Tambuwal. After the homage, Abubakar and his guests moved into the main hall of the palace for refreshment.
There, the Sultan would not allow anybody to serve him as he was seeing carrying his own food plate.
He then saw off the governor and that marked the end of Sallah Day One.
Early in the morning, a message had come to the two-bedroom lodge of this reporter, who was the Sultan’s guest, that there would be a very vital annual event of the Sokoto Education Development Trust Fund. It was the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Fund, which traditionally holds on the day after Sallah.
Then the Sultan headed to the Government Lodge I, Sokoto for a courtesy call on Governor Tambuwal.
Abubakar, who was accompanied by members of the Sultanate Council and District Heads in the Caliphate, thanked Allah (SWT) for the opportunity to witness this year’s Eid-el-Fitri, while also expressing his condolence to the state government and the entire people of Sokoto over the deaths of eminent sons of the state, including the Sarkin Yabo, the retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) Hamaza Isa.
The Sultan introduced the Wazirin Sokoto, Professor Sambo Wali Junaidu, who, for the first time, was coming with the Sultanate Council members for the Sallah visit.
Abubakar commended the Federal Government for banning codeine which, he noted, he had earlier called for during the National Council of Health meeting that took place in Abuja but was not heeded until a BBC documentary was shown on how the substance destroys the youths.
He then urged Sokoto State government set up a task force committee to enforce the Federal Government directive.
The Sultan also asked the Federal Government to urgently check the incessant killings and kidnapping in Zamfara State, which, he said, was assuming an alarming rate.
He said that, going by the situation in recent months, many lives had been lost in Zamfara, adding that Sokoto shares some of the problems along the border local government areas with Zamfara namely Isa, Sabon Birmi, Rabah, Kbbe and Tureta.
The Sultan acknowledged that “government, security agencies and traditional leaders are doing their best to see that the situation does not escalate”, adding that “strategies are being put in place to ensure that the state (Sokoto) is fully protected and by extension Zamfara State.”
He said, “All hands must be on deck to save this situation in Zamfara State.”
On the refuse littering the Sokoto metropolis, Abubakar urged the state government to do something about it.
The Sultan lauded security agents for ensuring peace in Sokoto, saying, “I am impressed but you can do more”.
He commended the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Balarabe Shehu Kakale, for promoting health service delivery in the state which, he said, included the setting up a referral hospital in each of the senatorial districts of Sokoto.
He expressed delight with the success recorded by the Ministry of Education especially in the areas of school enrolment and academic performance.
The Sultan urged the people of the state to support the Tambuwal administration in its resolve to take the state to greater heights.
On the current war on corruption, Abubakar reminded Muslims that Islam is totally against corruption.
He said he was fully in support of government in the war and urged government to punish any corrupt person no matter how highly placed.
The monarch however expressed his displeasure on how some corrupt persons were not being sanctioned, adding that, “There should be no sacred cow. When you are caught in this corruption war, you should be punished”.
Responding, Tambuwal, who started his remarks with a joke that the police band beat more drums for the Sultan because he is a retired general than they did for him, a civilian, thanked His Eminence for his advice at all times to ensure his success and that of the government of Sokoto.
The governor prayed Allah to reward the Sultan for his good deeds.
On the request for the welfare of the newly appointed district heads and the Waziri, he assured the Sultan that government would act soon.
On the need to set up a Task Force to enforce codeine ban, he said, “Already, government has that law but it will reinforce it so as to enable it effectively discharge the responsibility assigned for it.”
On the heaps of refuse and poor sanitary condition of Sokoto, Tambuwal said he had discussed is with his Commissioner for the Environment.
On security, the governor said the state government was doing everything possible alongside security agencies to stop kidnapping and attacks on border local governments with Zamfara.
Tambuwal said, “Insha Allah, we will not allow its escalation.”
The third day of the Eid-el-Fitri saw Abubakar showcasing the Caliphate through the visit of the Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Bashar, accompanied by Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Argungu, who was in the Sultan’s palace to pay Sallah homage.
Both notable northern traditional rulers came alongside their councils’ members, religious leaders and districts heads in their respective communities.
In his remarks, Bashar said he was in the Sultan’s palace based on the tradition of “coming to rejoice with my senior brother, the Sultan” on the successful completion of Ramadan fast.
The Gwandu monarch then said, “Your going round the country has saved a lot and brought a much desired peaceful co-existence among Muslims and Christians.
“Let me clearly and openly state that you have become a source of pride and inspiration to this family of Sheikh Usman Bin Fodio in uniting us and making us understand one another; you are really a pride to the Muslim Ummah”.