The Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar said on Thursday that the killings and bloodletting in the country are now getting out of hand.
He decried “too much bloodshed” and the rising cases of thuggery, terrorism and armed banditry.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, on his part, criticized the “monetization of politics”, which he said is adversely affecting the nation.
Both traditional leaders spoke at a National Stakeholders Summit on the 2019 election’s Integrity and the unveiling of the “let the votes count, rig no vote” campaign organized by the Youths off The Street Initiative in collaboration with the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council.
According to the Sultan, Nigerians cannot continue to go about killing and spilling blood in the name of religion when both Islam and Christianity preach the sacredness of life which should be respected by all.
He said: “As Christians and Muslims, we know the sacredness of life. We cannot go about killing innocent people and claiming to be doing so in the name of religion. This is not right and must be condemned and must be removed from our communities. All of us must rise up against those people.
“There is too much blood shedding in Nigeria. The blood of innocent people who do not even know what is happening or what is governance. This is happening across the country and if we don’t stop this and recognize the sacredness of human life, we cannot see peace, we cannot have peace and development in any place.
“Nigerians must wake up and know that we must come together because our religion does not allow us to kill people, but preach peaceful co-existence, loving your neighbour as yourself and things like that. So, when people spread a different notion about what Islam or Christianity said about loving your neighbour by killing him or abusing him every day and calling him all manner of names, I don’t know.
“The CAN President speaks for the millions of Christians in the country and I speak for my own brothers and sisters who are Muslims. You don’t have to bring everybody. You just need to bring the leadership to a room to discuss, but we must discuss what we believe in and what our religion orders us to. Once we go out, we can through the media spread that campaign.
“It is one thing to come to a meeting and say one thing; it is another to go out and implement those things we agreed on. In Islam, for you to do what you don’t believe in is very bad and so, you cannot say one thing and do another. So, we must do what we say and work with what we believe in.
“People see politics as do or die. We should not see it that way. That is why we tell our politicians always that they should not feel they must be in a particular office always. You can contribute to the development of the country or your community by being an independent person. It is not by force for you to go into a public office.
“If you know the consequences of holding a public office when you are going to face the Almighty God, you will not want to hold a public office. People feel you just come into public office, take whatever you want to take, go about in convoys. That is not leadership.
“If you are elected by people, let them come near you so that you feel their pains. You can’t be in an office and nobody comes close to you. A leader must take decisions concerning his people by consultations. You don’t just wake up and enact a law that is totally against my freedom.
“These are things that we must continue to speak out as religious and traditional rulers. There is nothing to fear about because if we don’t tell the truth, it will one day work against you and you will find yourself in a bad place and you will be struggling to get out of it and you won’t be able to.”
In the Sultan’s view, the country has a leadership problem that should be addressed. He said: “If you hear so much cry, then something is wrong with the leadership and that leadership must take correction so that we see how to get things right. As religious leaders we must come together and realize that there are so many things we have in common than the few things that will lead us astray and those few things can lead you to hell fire as religious leaders.
“We must be very serious about how we do things as religious leaders and if we want to have a country. We must be serious about the cry of the common man who is crying daily for one thing or the other. We think that things are right. Definitely, things are not right and when you know that there is a problem, then it is half solved. We must agree that there is problem so that we now know that we have half of the solution. The more we come together and talk, the more we come closer to the solution.
“Now, we have a very common problem of thuggery, violence, terrorism, shedding innocent blood, among others. We must come together and solve this problem and when we take decision on this, please let us go back and implement those decisions.”
The Oni of Ife said: “This country is growing every day and nobody is talking about birth control. The population of Nigeria now is between 190 and 200 million while the leadership demography of this country is less than 1 per cent. They have been ruling us since 1960.
“Let us compare notes and be realistic and face the fact that there is a problem in this country. Let us not hide under any color. The active population of this country is about 150 million people with a bleak future.
“The young men that were apprehended and paraded for kidnapping the Chibok girls are below the age of 30. They thought they were doing business because they are very ignorant of what they were doing.
“There is problem in this country. What are our leaders doing to orientate them? How are we orientating our youths? Anytime we want to destroy this country, we go to this set of Nigerians, give them money and the whole problem will start and the leaders won’t be able to handle it.
“The oxygen of ideal politics is the people, but in Nigeria, the oxygen of Nigerian politics is money, see and buy. What a nation? We are not all safe. It is about time for us to know that the leaders of this country are not safe, same thing with the followers because a lot of the youths of this country are ignorant. What they want to do is sustain themselves and they need basic things to do that. Are we going to fold our hands and keep talking and not walk the talk? The problem is our problem.
“Election is coming now and we are talking about one man, one vote. We can do all the talks forever, but what are we doing? There is true leadership and true followership. We all know that oxygen is life and the oxygen of Nigerian politics is money.
“But everybody that is in leadership position should know that man made money and it has expiration date. Where is the sense of integrity and content of your character? What are our religious leaders doing? How well are we installing values in people that are so low to us.
“Leadership is examination and you will not hear the result of your examination when you are still a leader because people will be hailing you. When you leave that position, your phone will stop ringing and they will move to another leader. When are we going to have a very strong character and moral in our society?
“The problem is not just our leader, but all of us. It is very important for us to invest in Nigeria youths because the oxygen of politics is money. This country belongs to all Nigerians and the welfare of every Nigerian must count. The same way the votes of Nigerians will count individually, the welfare must also count. We are going into the next political dispensation, let us talk to ourselves.