Understanding VP Shettima: The Sokoto government on dancing to the sultanate


By: Dr. James Bwala


I do not think those trying to escalate the statement attributed to Vice President Kashim Shettima over his comments at the North-West Peace and Security Summit in Katsina State have a full understanding of the issues surrounding the relationship between the Sokoto state government and the Sultanate, which also informed the needs that brought to note the larger scale of the vice president's message to the Sokoto state government. 


It is not that the Vice President is trying to meddle in the affairs of the state of Sokoto but simply cautioning on the political moves from a question raised between the Sokoto state government and the Sultan, which is becoming sensitive to peace and security not only of Sokoto and the Northwest region but also Nigeria on a larger scale as the sultanate is a reflection of religion not only to the people of Sokoto but to every Muslim, which I believe is the fear raised by Professor Isiaq Akintola, the Executive Director of the Muslim Rights Council (MURIC). 


Another concern that informed Kashim Shettima's massage directed at the deputy governor of Sokoto state for the government is for the government to understand that if there are any such moves, it will not only end in the Sokoto enclaves but will affect every citizen of Nigeria, whether Muslim or Christian, because the experiences in Kano state are already a pointer to say "NO" to another traditional seat dragging and for Sokoto it is not going to be about that traditional institution but a drag that may temper a religious institution, which the country cannot afford any act of violence in that direction that will further stretch the federal government efforts towards peacebuilding. 


From the statement of Professor Isiaq Akintola, the Executive Director of the Muslim Rights Council (MURIC), the political play that want to unveil in Sokoto for whatever position in the government understanding of the wake in new relationship between the government and the sultanate—the pointer was never to malign the governor's position as the chief executive of the state but certainly to advise the government that certain actions may not end in his control alone, as such it is not heroic to pull triggers that will engulf the nation in violence as 

Nigerian Muslims would strongly oppose any attempts to depose the Sultan, particularly after the state governor, Ahmed Aliyu, deposed 15 traditional rulers over political alignment, according to reports circulating. 


So, the vice president was looking largely at the efforts the federal government is already putting in place, one of which calls for the North-West Peace and Security Summit in Katsina State. Shettima stressed that the Sultan transcends his role as a mere monarch, embodying a significant concept. He highlighted the necessity for the Sultan and other traditional leaders across the nation to vigorously protect, promote, and sustain the advancement of the country. 


According to the VP, when it comes to all matters concerning the progress of our nation, we must recognize and appreciate the role played by His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, as a symbol of guidance and influence among all the royal figures gathered here. “To the deputy governor of Sokoto, I have a straightforward message: the Sultan is not just a regional ruler but an embodiment of an important idea. He represents an esteemed institution that requires our diligent protection, advocacy, and preservation for the enhancement of our national development.” 


So, what is wrong with the VP's message here? The Sokoto governor's spokesperson, Abubakar Bawa, hinted in a response to the ongoing airings that the governor said Shettima should have contacted him to verify the news that made the rounds on the purported plan to depose Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar before going public. According to him, there was never any attempt to sack the Sultan. But it was not only Kashim Shettima who heard about the brewing political new relationship in Sokoto that is dancing towards the sultanate. 


And if indeed, the VP is all ears about what is happening across the country, It is not about issues to verify because Professor Isiaq Akintola, the Executive Director of the Muslim Rights Council (MURIC), could not have come this far, and this is also not about the Sultan enjoying all the powers he is entitled to and that the state government has never denied him any of his freedom or rights. But this is about stepping on the smoky grass in the winter. The VP acted in good faith and spoke well with a defined message. Nigeria cannot afford another shaky situation around the peace and security of its citizens. 


* Dr. James Bwala, PhD, writes from Abuja.


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