Concerning the video making the rounds on social media and speculations that His Eminence HRM Alhaji Saad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, snubbed the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Babajide Sanwo-Olu at an event, I don’t think that’s what really happened. The Sultan I know does not insult or disrespect people in any way. In fact, he doesn’t give room for anything like that around him. I see this whole episode as people reading unnecessary meanings into the video clip and blowing things out of proportion for cheap publicity.

The Sultan of Sokoto that I know, personally, is one of the most humble, approachable and sociable traditional rulers we have in this country today. If you look at the video, you will notice that he wasn’t going about looking for people rather people were approaching him on their own, because he is a very approachable, welcoming and hospitable person. He is the kind of person that people naturally love to associate with. There are so many people in this country that people do not associate with because of the way they carry themselves. The Sultan is not like that. The Sultan is not in the category of persons that disrespect or disregards others because of his position. He respects everyone. He is a down-to-earth leader who has the rare ability of being able to carry everybody along regardless of status or personality. He doesn’t assume any airs, whatsoever. I have dined with him, from the same plate, on different occasions. I have visited him at different times, both home and abroad, and each time he personally walked me and my aides to our vehicles to see us off.

His warm and hospitable nature is also why he has been able to successfully bring the people of the Northern region of the country – Christians and Muslims, politicians and nonpoliticians – together to address issues affecting the North and Nigeria in general. His ability to reach out to people, regardless of their status, tribe or religion is what has given him the popularity he enjoys among Nigerians today and endeared so many of us to him. He is a man who understands the secret of life and knows what it takes to earn respect from people. He doesn’t lobby for loyalty from those that know him, but earns their loyalty by the way he respects himself and respects others.

His ability to mix freely with everyone is one reason why the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, which he co-chairs with the Ooni of Ife, has become the focal point of national integration in recent times. In the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, he is on record for saying that “Kings are equal, regardless of the classification of their stools, whether first class or one-hundredth class”. In one of our meetings at the National Council of Traditional Rulers, he came down from the high table set aside for the leaders of the body and said there shouldn’t be any high table because all the traditional rulers are equal. You cannot identify that kind of man as a person who would intentionally snub or embarrass someone else, talk more of snubbing a person in the calibre of the Governor of Lagos State.

Besides, when you look at the video in question, it is easy to infer that both men had probably met in the waiting room before being ushered into the auditorium for the programme. They would have had long periods of interaction before coming out. That can explain why, again looking at the video, the Sultan did not look at Governor Sanwo-Olu’s hand to know whether or not the Executive Governor of Lagos State was offering his hand for a handshake, because that was likely not their first meeting of the night. Again, Governor Sanwo-Olu, being very respectful of traditional rulers, would have merely folded his hand and bowed in that form of greeting that is common for elders and traditional rulers in the West and North of the country. You can see them clearly chatting in the video, despite not shaking hands.

Both men are national leaders and nationalists, I am sure they will have more opportunities to meet in the future. It is only where the Sultan refuses the governor’s handshake at such future meetings that we can begin to wonder whether something is amiss. For now, I think people should stop making unfounded speculations about the video. As nationalists, both men know that what we need the most in Nigeria, right now, is for our leaders to share a single vision for national progress and prosperity, by working towards peace, security and unity of the nation. I urge both leaders, especially His Excellency the Governor of Lagos State, not to be distracted by the side comments of arm-chair analysts with nothing better to do than look for a way to drive a wedge into the obviously good relationship existing between him and the Sultan.

HRH King Appolus Chu
Oneh-Eh Nchia X
And Egbere Emere Okori
Eleme Kingdom
Rivers State

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