His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar: A Sultan For The Times

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This week, the fifth anniversary of the coronation of His Eminence, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar III, is being commemorated. There has been an outpouring of commendations to celebrate five years under a sultan, who has that remarkable ability to reach different segments of an increasingly fractured nation. The sultan is lucky to have been born, cultured and educated within the sureties of sultanate power and influence in the days when society seemed to have its moral compass properly functional and things seemed to have work reasonably well. As a soldier, he traversed his country in the troubling years of military dictatorship, but those postings helped to build a network of relationships which enabled his understanding of the complexity of the Nigerian condition. These relationships took an international dimension when he ploughed through the maze of diplomacy in troubled regions of the contemporary world. Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar’s whole life seemed a backdrop to the multi-dimensional functions he has been called upon to perform as Sultan of Sokoto.

These are very difficult moments in Nigerian history. Traditional sources of power are losing legitimacy; the population is very young and do not see the old loci of power as representative of their hopes and aspirations, while the political elite is far too lost in heist and irresponsibility. If ever there was the need for a Sultan who straddles the various currents of our recent history and able to navigate these currents with surety, that Sultan is Sa’ad Abubakar. The epoch found its Sultan; no wonder, he has hardly found respite in the past five years: admonishing; lecturing; travelling; calling up old contacts; re-inforcing tradition and finding relevance in modernity.

It is not easy, but he could not have wished for a less active period to be Sultan. The old Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus, said you cannot step into the same river twice. Moments in history evolve, and it is elementary wisdom, that we must be in tune with our times. That is what Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar has tried to do over the past five years. I wish Your Eminence more years of useful labour to our people; our country and all of humanity!



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