By JESUTEGA ONOKPASA
Why do we like certain people or take to a fondness for particular persons?
Well, those are as likely to be crystal clear as to be frustratingly cloudy, my son.
Indeed, as in my experience they have either remained unreachably subconscious or otherwise tended to be so readily apparent as to be virtually palpable, my father.
Only to God can belong all the answers, my son.
But of course, except that in the case of Sa’ad Abubakar III, Sultan of Sokoto, I would venture I am much exercised by his obvious cosmopolitanism and rather captivated by what I suspect to be a suppressed inclination toward the modernistic in a role that has for far too long been framed in what we must identify as a peculiar conservatism which only served to detain the progress of scores of the Sultan’s subjects.
Or perhaps, you have merely come to some solidarity with him because it is simply impossible to miss the deep-seated hunger in this Sultan for the lot of his people to be far much better than it presently is.
Or maybe, after all, it just happens that Sa’ad Abubakar is simply an easily likable person.
Maybe but if that’s the case, then it must be accounted additionally enhancing to his personage for simply as Sultan, likable or otherwise, he is already monumental.
Indeed, and that is probably putting it rather mildly.
You know, it occurred to me the other day that if we bothered to ask the average Nigerian to mention the greatest monarch in the Islamic world, he would most probably offer the name of the King of Saudi Arabia or that of some Persian Gulf emir.
But that is a factually problematic notion, my father, and not just one necessarily arising from the pettiness inherent in an excessively materialistic society but also a misconception that says as much about the paucity of pure knowledge in our society as about the drawbacks which encircle how we have chosen to assess the world beyond our clime against who we are and what we have been given.
Here cometh my son, yet again.
And chipped right off the old block, in and for good measure, sir.
As it should be.
Now undoubtedly, the Sultan’s jurisdiction is the entirety of the Sokoto Caliphate which we may take to be identifiable as the totality of those areas over which the Sultan, himself, exercises traditional rule, in addition other parts of Northern Nigeria over which an Emir or similar Moslem ruler historically drawing authority from the Sultan holds sway and therefore over which the Sultan ultimately exercises jurisdiction.
Yet even when assessed vide a prism of faith and we apprehend the Sultan’s subjects to be only the Moslems over whom he and his emirs exercise traditional rule, the Sultan of the Sokoto Caliphate is surprisingly revealed to be a traditional ruler of true and unmitigated international pedigree!
Well, that one I never heard before, I must confess.
In fact, amongst all monarchs of the world, be they actual, ceremonial or non-heads of state, the current Sultan, Sa’ad Abubakar, probably holds sway over more subjects than only but a few of them, such as the Queen of England, the Emperor of Japan or the Thai monarch!
Oh yes, for the subjects of Sa’ad Abubakar III number in their tens of millions and overwhelmingly dwarf the subjects of the King of Saudi Arabia, arguably the most celebrated Islamic monarch of all!
Come to think of it, indeed!
And as such and as we speak, Sa’ad Abubakar III is very probably the Muslim king with the greatest number of subjects in the whole wide world!
Man, actually, Daddy.
Man, indeed, you are, my son!
Thank you, sir, and if I may continue, apart from having more subjects than either King Salman of Saudi Arabia or Kind Abdullah of Jordan, none of the emirs of the Gulf States, be it those of the U. A. E., Qatar, Oman, Bahrain or Kuwait, remotely compare in the numbers of their subjects and neither does the Sultan of Brunei nor the various sultans and similar rulers that share the collegiate Presidency of Malaysia!
Why did that never occur to me before?
Perhaps that’s why you have a son in me, sir.
Perhaps if some majority Moslem country such as Egypt or Turkey were still monarchies, then their kings could compare but not necessarily take precedence over the Sultan of Sokoto, but they are not, and Sa’ad Abubakar therefore emerges primus inter pares amongst all the potentates of the Islamic world!
“Men” sounds much better than “boy”; thank you, Daddy.
Just go on, my son.
I’m still doing the math but it is already conceivable that Sa’ad Abubakar is the Islamic ruler with the greatest number of subjects in world history!
You don’t say!
In which case and in terms of actual demographics as opposed to mere notional prestige, Sa’ad Abubakar III comes highly recommended and his potential in terms of those particulars ought not to continue to count for far less than they would seem to have managed thus far.
Yet I have a nagging suspicion that the Sultan might had capitulated in the face of what can only be the potentially debilitating challenge of socially reengineering a world as fixed in the past as his realm would appear to have chosen to stubbornly remain.
Perhaps only a suspicion except that what is a suspicion to a lawyer other than that which may be confirmed or dispelled?
And true enough is the fact that we must all agree that there just is simply too much potential in the North that any sustenance of its present condition can only amount to an insult to God who put that potential there.
True enough, indeed.
For me, leading his subjects in an entirely new direction is the one and only job of Sa’ad Abubakar III.
I guess I must concur.
It is his mandate from his God and the reason why He put him there as Sultan or as we would say in Christianity, it is the cross God has placed on his shoulders and he must carry it through because if it was a cross impossible for him to bear, God would never had saddled him with it in the first place.
Indeed, now that you brought it up, it occurs to me that perhaps Sa’ad Abubakar has something to show us, a point to prove, even yet.
Or, indeed a legacy, even one unprecedented, to bequeath.
And wouldn’t that be something?
If he fully embraces the path God has obviously chosen for him – the very path I suspect that he himself suspects God has chosen for him – I wager that he will be remembered as Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar the Great, a position in history in which he may yield precedence to no other than Dan Fodio, himself!
If you chanced to meet the Sultan first thing tomorrow morning, what would you tell His Eminence, my son?
I guess I would surely remember to say “if you could get the men of the Hausa-Fulani to let their women earn an income and you could induce your subjects to embrace the Western Education of their children as an inescapable mandate from God, their Creator, you would have recreated the North overnight and written your name into the immortal history of mankind”.
Onokpasa, a lawyer, wrote from Warri.