By Jacob Akintunde, Akure
The Sultan of Sokoto and Head of Muslims in Nigeria, Alhaji Sa’ad Muhammad Abubakar has called on the traditional institutions, the custodians of culture and values together raise their voice against denigrating our diversity and criminalization of ethnicity.
Alhaji Abubakar made call in Akure, Ondo state capital at a public lecture held at the Auditorium of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, (FUTA) to mark the 2019 ‘Ulefunta annual festival’ in Akure.
The Ulefunta festival is the brainchild of the Akure monarch, the Deji of Akure Kingdom, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, who began a process of bringing Akure’s culture into modern remembrance, one of which is the Ulefunta which is now celebrated to impart its lessons on the modern world.
In his lecture, entitled, “Our diversity, a divine gift and blessing untapped: wrong path trodden and way to peace’, the Sultan of Sokoto said that diversity was not the problem but maintaining it is the problem Nigeria as a whole has saying that diversity is divine gift and it must be cherished.
“We must come out to acknowledge and celebrate this gift of God”, he said.
According to him, the most important thing was to focus on managing our diversity.
“We have no option but to work together to keep our globe safe and economically viable.
“As traditional leaders we are committed to support our political leaders to deliver on this important count”.
He also called on the governments at all levels to use its good offices, especially the media and the National Orientation Agency, which has presence in all the 774 local governments to embark on a massive campaign to enlighten our fellow citizens about the blessings of diversity.
While commending the Minister of Education for restoring History as a core subject in our secondary curriculum, Abubakar however called on him to take further steps to promote History by sponsoring more research and creating an annual national historical competition to give a new boost to history.
His words, “History is today a national security resource that can help clarify and inform the minds of our young people and protect them from the shallowness of the social media stuff which is ever circulating.
“It is the primary responsibility of our political leadership to design the programmes and allocate the appropriate resources for that.”
The Sultan of Sokoto also urged the media to avoid sensationalism and enlighten their readers and listeners and mobilize the nation for development and not conflict.
In his royal remarks, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi said ulefunta festival was a period to rest for him.
Oba Aladelusi said, “Seven days annual leave is not enough for me as a king. The ulefunta is a period to rest for me. Its our heritage and we have to promote it”.
In his closing remarks, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, urged Nigerians to look beyond their religious differences and give importance to the unity of this country.
The governor emphasised that religion should be seen as a unifying factor rather than a doctrine that is meant to divide us.
Akeredolu said he was glad that immediately the Sultan arrived the State Capital on Sunday, he held a meeting with the state religious leaders under the auspices of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council on the need to shun religious crisis.
According to the governor, “I must appreciate the fact that you had the opportunity, sir, to attend a meeting with our state religious leaders on how to form amity among religions because here, particularly in Ondo State, and most parts of the southern Nigeria, a number of families, if not most families, have Christians and Muslims co-existing as family members.
“Also, we have husbands and wives belonging to different religions. And usually, it is easier for us to point to our leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is an Alhaji and his wife, a Pastor in RCCG.
“When we were growing up here as children, we celebrate Muslim festivals with our friends. We would go to their houses and eat in the same bowl. During our own festivals as Christians, they would come to us and they would even sow dresses and we wouldn’t even know the difference.
“This has changed. But I am sure that we will get back sooner to embrace ourselves because we are one and religion should not divide us
“Hausa and our people have lived together for very long time. When we have one or two security problems, I am of the opinion that they are not with those who have been living with us.
“They are with those who are just strangers. Even those living with us don’t know them. Those living with us are peaceful and they have become part of us. Unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.”