The Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, has denounced the tendency to ascribe violence perpetrated against agrarian communities to Fulani herdsmen, noting that such perpetrators masquerading as herdsmen should simply be treated as criminals.
Speaking as guest lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Founders’ Day Dignity of Man Lecture, Sultan Abubakar III frowned at religious extremism of all forms and called on Nigerians to shun divisive rhetoric and work towards achieving a more tolerant society. “Our real enemy is not the other tribe or the other religion; our real enemy – indeed, the enemy of the dignity of man is ignorance. We must all rise to eliminate ignorance.”
He recalled his early career days spent in Nsukka as a young military officer, how he forged a close bond of friendship with people of diverse tribe and creed and how those experiences strengthened his conviction that “we have a lot more that unites us than divides us”.
Quoting Shehu Uthman dan Fodio in his lecture titled “Restoring the Dignity of Man: Education as a Veritable Tool,” Sultan Abubakar III said further: “One of the swiftest ways of destroying a state is to give preference to one particular group over another, or to show favour to one group of people rather than another, and draw near those who should be kept away and keep away those who should be drawn near.”
The Dignity of Man Lecture, the ninth in the series, drew a large audience comprising guests such as the Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, Professor Chukwuemeka Ike and Professor Uche Azikiwe, wife of Nigeria’s first president and founder of the university.