Nigeria’s Unity Must be negotiated without bias – Sultan of Sokoto

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III, has said that Nigeria’s unity is very important to all, adding that all deliberations about it must be harmonised without bias.

The sultan spoke through a representative yesterday at a two-day symposium organised by the Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria (SCSN) in collaboration with the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA).

Sultan Abubakar who urged Nigerians to refrain from bias in their contributions, said the symposium must be towards helping to bring progress and development to Nigeria.

The sultan who was represented by the Emir of Keffi, Dr Shehu Usman Chindo Yamusa, said: “The unity of Nigeria is very important to us and to our nation, and so all deliberations must be harmonised without bias.

“All discussions must be compiled without disparities.  All contributions that affect the ummah must be analysed in a way to bring progress and development in our country.”

A former chief of state to the senate president and spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed, in a paper titled: “The Nigerian Federation and the Management of Our Diversity: A Critical Evaluation,” said since a nation is made up of diverse peoples, citizens have identities which define them further.

He said the issue of indigene and settler is not in contention in Nigeria.

“The constitution mentions ‘indigenous’ only in reference to qualification for citizenship (Section 25(1). The indigene has acquired a profound presence in our lives and in the manner we organised the struggle for power and economic resources.  The elaborate constitutional provisions for the fundamental rights of the citizen had been blind to the indigene, or for that matter, the monster it has created.

“Chapter IV of the constitution outlines among others, rights to life, dignity of the human person, private and family life, thought, conscience and religion, expression and press, peaceful assembly and association, movement and acquisition of property to apply equally to each citizen,” Baba-Ahmed said, adding that a federal arrangement is primarily an acceptance that countries will be basically designed to accord recognition to cultural, spatial or even political pluralism, and sharing of powers between federating units and a centre which gives substance and meaning to identities, values and aspirations to all citizens.

“Significantly, federal systems define citizenship at the national level, and in various forms and scale, allow federating units the scope to design and determine how they organize governance and other matters which influence lives of citizens who live within them.

“Conflict over these attempts to create a state and a national citizen are endemic in all federal systems, and they have been resolved in most instances, by recourse to the judicial process and in many countries, by an alert agency which polices inter-governmental relations,” he added.

A discussant, Dr Auwal Abdullahi Aliyu who also spoke on the citizens/settlers dichotomy said it was unfortunate that no matter how long you live in Nigeria, you cannot become a citizen in that area even if you were born there.

He said issues of indigenes/settlers dichotomy had made Nigeria to lose a lot of people, adding that most deaths in the country were caused by ethnic, religious or even regional clashes caused by reckless comments and utterances of some leaders.

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