– The Sultan of Sokoto is in Benin, Edo state for the annual general meeting of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs
– He decided to visit Governor Adams Oshiomhole where he had the opportunity to speak concerning the September 10 governorship election
– Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III warned politicians in the state to carry on with the consciousness that the electorate remain important
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has called on political parties and their candidates in the September 10 gubernatorial election in Edo state to place the interest of the voters above all other considerations as they campaign for votes.
Alhaji Abubakar, who is in Benin to attend the annual general meeting of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, made the call during a courtesy visit to Governor Adams Oshiomhole at the government house.
Though 18 candidates and political parties are in the race, the election is believed to be majorly between Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He also cautioned them to avoid any act that could lead to violence before, during and after the election, noting that campaigns are supposed to be issue-based, and not opportunity to confuse the people.
He said: “Please, put the interest of Edo state first and foremost.
“There should not be any violence and when elections do hold, it should be free, fair and credible and whoever the people decide to elect to replace the governor, we should put hands together and thank God for His choice and work with whoever God puts in this government house, come the few months after you leave office.
“We must, as leaders, put the interest of the people first. God gave us leadership not to lord it over others but to serve people. We must always put the interest of people first before any other thing.”
The Sultan who is also the president-general of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, noted that leadership is all about consultation, while consultation is the height of good leadership demonstrated by any person.
He added: “because when you do good things, people will be happy with you and thank you and urge you go on to continue to do good things.
“Therefore, we must always consult with people before we take actions on their behalf. When policies are made for people, they are meant to serve people.
“But when people cry and complain about certain policies, there is no harm in a leader reviewing those policies, retrace his steps and make things better than they were.”
Cautioning politicians against engaging in violent campaigns, the revered traditional ruler pointed out that campaigns are meant to be issue-based rather than an opportunity to confuse the electorate.
He said: “We do not know who that person is; only God knows. There are so many contenders but only one will occupy this seat and there is nothing anybody can do about it. God knows who it is going to be; we do not know.
“That is why you find so many of politicians roaming around the state looking for votes from people because if we had known who would be here, you just sit down and sleep. But God, in his infinite mercy, said: ‘No, you must work for it’.
“So please, carry out your campaigns in peace and harmony, of course, issue related campaigns, because everything is on the ground. Convince people, do not confuse them to vote for you.”
Commenting on the current security challenges facing the country, the Sultan said it required collaborative efforts from all leaders, irrespective of religious or ethnic affiliation.
“Let us work towards eliminating crime amongst us; there are so many criminal activities going on all over the world. Nigeria is just experiencing this.
“But Nigeria is much better than so many countries, when it comes to criminal activities.
“It is only what you hear on the radio or watch on television or read in the papers that will disturb you. But those countries that are much worse than us, you hardly hear of such things.
“But we have our own problems; let us put hands together, let us put heads together, irrespective of religion and ethnicity, and salvage the situation in our country, make the economy work, make people feel free, have three or four square meals a day, go to schools in a very good atmosphere and feel free to come out at 3am, 4am.
“That is the country we are praying for; that is the country we must work for. We cannot sit down and think things will work out right.
“We must work for it and that is why we call on all leaders to always come together and work for the people,” he admonished.
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The Sokoto monarch also expressed concern over the poor living condition of many Nigerians and the increasing rate of crime across the country and urged individuals saddled with the different responsibilities to cater for the needs of the people and work together towards finding a lasting solution.
“I am very delighted with the comment the governor made some few days ago about the minimum wage and payment of salaries and that is one of the things that have been bringing so many criminal activities. Workers are not paid and they cannot go to the market because there is no money and there is hunger.
“So when you are hungry, definitely as we know, a hungry man is an angry man. So, we know the problems in the country. So as leaders, let us put our heads together and see how we can resolve them.
“Nobody should blame whoever over what. Let us stop the blame game and face the reality and come together, irrespective of party affiliation, and move this country forward,” the Sultan who was former chancellor of the university of Benin, said.
He commended Governor Oshiomhole for his performance since he assumed office in 2008 and expressed hope that his successor would build on current level of development in the state.
“While we wish you all the best in your future endeavour, we want to use this opportunity to call on all of you, as politicians in Edo state, as you are preparing for your election next month, to put the interest of Edo state first and the common man who leaves in Edo state because without people, there cannot be leaders.
“Throughout your campaign and subsequent election and swearing in of a governor, you will still need people.
“We are very proud of your achievements in the last eight years and we call on whoever God chooses to replace you to continue to build on the legacies you are leaving behind,” he said.
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In his response, Governor Oshiomhole, commended the Sultan for his contributions to peace and stability in the country, adding that the forthcoming election centres on people-oriented issues rather than religious or ethnic sentiments.
He disclosed that his administration plans to recruit new teachers who would inculcate religious values in children and train future leaders for the development of the state.