An Open Letter from the Tangale Community Overseas To the Sultan of Sokoto, Following His Recent Visit to Gombe State
His Eminence, Alh Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III,
With a great sense of deep respect, we undertake to pen this letter to a religious and community leader of your caliber in Nigeria. We wish you good health, long life, and wisdom as you lead your people all over Nigeria. We were pleasantly surprised to hear of your recent visit to our home state. We are sure that your stay was reassuring to the many Muslims who were fortunate to catch a glimpse of you. Therefore, we want to use the opportunity to draw your attention to a few matters of concern because of your position.
First, we are grateful and acclaim your visit to our state. The summit on peaceful coexistence and nation-building, organized by Dawah Coordination Council of Nigeria (DCCN), is eye-opening. The task of nation-building is the responsibility of all citizens, and leaders such as governors should lead the way. Strategies for enhancing peaceful coexistence among citizens naturally flow from visionary leaders whose goals include ensuring the stability of traditional institutions. As you noted in your speech, we are in desperate times, and such times call for strong leaders of integrity. You also said we, the followers, should tell our leaders where they go wrong. However, your visit also came at a time of angst and dismay in Gombe state. Perhaps your statement is a veiled caution to the current state of affairs in the state. The governor of Gombe state has paraded himself as an Emperor who tramples on the rights of minority citizens of the state. Unfortunately for him, a governor’s job in a democracy is simply what the name implies: govern a people by a delegated authority as enshrined in the nation’s constitution. In this respect, we have several reasons to question the bad judgment of Gov. Inuwa because he has endorsed the wanton destruction of human lives and properties.
The statement, “Nobody should force you to vote for the person you don’t like,” is attributed to you by Sola Shittu of the Nation online paper (https://thenationonline.net August 6, 2021). Sir, no statement is more accurate than that. Yet, the paradox is that you were standing next to the very culprit who subverts and bastardize the law. He acknowledged it when he said that “the leaders caused three-quarters of the problems in Nigeria.” Yet, the likes of Gov. Inuwa hide behind the façade of religion and ethnicity to cause disarray and hinder a peaceful coexistence among the people. While those words were coming out of his mouth, he was suppressing justice and truth in Tangale land at the same time. Sir, we hope you know the Mai Tangle stool crisis invented by Gov. Inuwa in February. His callous subversion of the law led to Tangale women’s two-day peaceful protest, which led to the shutting down of the federal highway in Billiri. The national news drew the attention of the president of Nigeria, whose only comment was to call for the end of the protest. We did not fault him since it was a state matter. However, in your case, having been fully aware of the aftermath of the crisis, we are concerned that any praise of the governor would imply a subtle endorsement of his disregard of the law and traditions of the Tangale people. Since you are a wise leader, we hope you have corrected him privately and nudged him to revert his decision and do what is right.
Second, in light of the history of emirates, kingdoms, and chieftaincies in northern Nigeria, one would expect that a fatherly figure would reflect on and warn against the dangers of one domain seeking to uproot another in the year 2021. Sir, you understand there are hundreds of independent nations or tribal entities within Nigeria, many of which have withstood wars and attempts to overrun them for years until the coming of the British colonial government. The Tangale nation is one of those whose ancestors fought tooth and nail to preserve its identity, and your ancestors accepted that position for years. Hence, your recent visit to Gombe had left many people asking if you were giving your blessings to the governor’s actions when you rewarded him with a title of his choice from your stool, not a small feat, one may add. While we acknowledge your friendship with the governor, we want to distance you from his actions or lack of foresight. The people of Gombe city have themselves tasted and experienced the pains of living under a dictator called Inuwa. Ask them about his attitude towards civil servants. Ask them about his brutality in his relationship to the masses who object to his mini-monarch, mini-dictator approach to leadership. And finally, ask them if they would want him another four years. These sentiments are felt all over the state.
Third, we have watched with great concern the role of the state and the heavy-handedness of some misguided political leaders who dared to interfere in the selection/election/appointment process of an Emir or Sultan. We, the tribal nations, have sought to defend the rights of an emirate to choose its Emirs according to its customs and traditions. You, of all people, should know the blatant injustice when an elected state officer decides to dethrone one Emir and install another at the expense of the people’s choice. Imagine in the future, some president of Nigeria from another part of the country chooses to dethrone a Sultan!
Lastly, you have asked us to speak truth to power. Therefore, we cite the words of Gov. Inuwa, “This fight is everybody’s fight. We must come together. We must join hands. The origin of all these problems is tied to the elites, both traditional and political. The whole of the North is now in a crisis that if we are not very careful, it may consume all of us” (Nigerians hungry, say Sultan, Gombe governor – The Nation News Nigeria (thenationonlineng.net). Once again, the audacity of saying one thing and doing the opposite! Gombe state is in desperate need of leadership. However, we can genuinely change our state’s destiny if the masses hear our urgent call to find leaders who believe in justice and not dictators.
We wish you good health, a long life, prosperity, and peace in your reign.
Long Live Dr. Musa Idris Maiyamba, Long Live Tangale, Long Live Gombe State, Long Live Nigeria
Lamela Umaru Lakorok
Tangale Community Overseas