By Femi Abbas
Nights are pregnant. They give birth to wonders in the days. The paradoxical issues between days and nights are like those of the cloudy sky which is earnestly expected to pour down rain water for crops to grow. If rain falls, it is not because of any expectation. Rather, it is because the Almighty Allah has a message to pass to a section of the world through the rain water. After all, the cloudy sky could have throbbed through the environment either with a wild storm or a devastating tempest, if not for Allah’s mercy.
As human beings, we do many things without noticing the role of a third eye around us. It is only when the effect or outcome of such a role is pronounced to the hearings of the world that we try to adjust, either by increasing the tempo, for posterity sake, or by relenting, out of complacency. Two remarkable events came up during this week, each of which warranted profound appreciation to people who played distinguished roles in them, directly or indirectly.
One was a special prayer which the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (USWEN) organized for the success of a trusted brother, Barrister Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, the Chairman of National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), in piloting the affairs of Hajj operations in Nigeria and in ivoking the mercy of Allah to bail out Nigeria from the malti-faceted calamity that is currently threatening her corporate existence as a united and indivisible country.
The second event was the recognition of yours sincerely as the ‘Nigerian Muslim Media Person of the Year 2020’. The selection of yours sincerely for that spectacular recognition was done by a foremost Nigerian Muslim Social Media called ‘The Muslim Media Faculty’ in collaboration with the Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN). The latter is the highest professional ‘Muslim Media’ body in Nigeria. Although both events came up during the days of Sunday, February 7, 2021 and Monday, February 8, 2021, respectively, the ratification of their conceptions had been done in the serenity of the preceding nights. The details of the two events will be published in this column, in a foreseeable future in sha’Allah.
The Third Eye
Who could have thought that the paltry messages dished out to the world from this column every Friday has been attracting the attention of some observers with a mark of notice?
Last Monday, February 8, 2021 was a rare day of a uniformed message from various countries around the world. And, the message had only one tone: CONGRATULATION!
That message was in reaction to the fortuitous announcement of the name ‘Femi Abbas’ as ‘Nigerian Muslim Media Person of the Year 2020’. The announcement was made through the blog of ‘Muslim Media Faculty’.
The magnitude of the barrage of congratulatory messages that bombarded me through the throbs of android phones, the Gmail and Social Media, generally, from all parts of the world, cannot be vividly described here. Although I am personally averse to conferment of awards, as a matter of principle, the fact that a fast growing Muslim Media outfit like ‘Muslim Media Faculty’ came up with such recognition could not be ignored if only to encourage excellent media work by Muslim professionals. It had always been my fervent wish and prayer to see a well groomed, vociferous media outfit like ‘Muslim Media Faculty’ to come up as a competent and surpassing successor to ‘The Message’ column. Thus, when ‘The Muslim Media Faculty’ emerged with an incredible ability to keep the flag flying, I considered it as an act of ingratitude to Allah not to acknowledge the laudable activities of that outfit with a befitting appreciation. After all, it takes only a sound performer to recognize good performance in other people. And, in journalism, it is your work, rather than your boastful words of mouth that shows who you are in meaningful terms.
Growth of Ability
Ability to speak or write is a special gift from the AlmightyAllah. With time, such ability may grow to become a hobby which may be developed into a specialized skill. And, with further training and advanced experience, the skill may become an appreciable profession that will be emulated by thousands of others.
Speaking, no matter how eloquently it may be, cannot be as important as getting audience for it. A speaker can be classified as an orator only by his audience. Radio and television broadcasters as well as public motivational speakers can testify to this assertion.
The similitude of an orator, on a radio or television station, is like that of an author of books or a weekly columnist in reputable newspapers or magazines. Thus, as a writer, he/she can be celebrated or denigrated only by his readers. However, any writer who takes his readers for granted can only do so at his/her own peril. Such a writer may not be qualified for an author or a columnist.
Ever since the privilege of writing this column (The Message) came to yours sincerely, in The Nation newspaper, in September, 2006, no week has passed by without receiving a barrage of reactions from many countries. Even on some occasions, when the column was not published, for one reason or another, reactions never ceased to come in torrents.
The reason for this was not just because I called the column a participatory one in its maiden edition but mostly because some ardent readers who had long been familiar with it, since its inception, in the now defunct Concord newspaper, in 1982, appreciate its quality and acknowledge the methodology with which it is presented to showcase Islam, to the world, every Friday. For instance, on a particular article entitled: ‘NO! MR. PRESIDENT, NO!’, which was published in this column, on February 2, 2007, when a onetime Army General, (Chief) Olusegun Okikiolakan Aremu Obasanjo was at the twilight of his second tenure of four years in office, as a Nigerian President, and, he was alleged to be clandestinely planning for an unconstitutional third term in office, I received 189 phone calls, 107 text messages and 143 written comments through the e-mail, all in one day. That was about five months after the commencement of this column in The Nation newspaper, in 2006.
After I left Concord newspaper, in 1989, most readers of this column followed it to other newspapers such as Tehran Times, Vanguard, the Monitor and ‘The Nation’. Some even followed it to some foreign magazines such as The Inquiry, Al-Afkar, Africa Now, At-Tawheed and a host of others including academic journals. Thus, questions, observations and comments were consistently coming into the column from various parts of the world in form of reactions.
This is a confirmation that it is only a bad writer that will close his ears or eyes to readers’ comments, even if such comments are reprobative.
It should be noted that the few reactions received over some publications, more than a decade ago, and published here below were randomly selected from the piling chunk in my kitty at that time. Those reactions were, however, not necessarily better or more important than many others which were not published then.
While thanking all the readers of this 39 year old column, particularly those who have been reacting to it from home and from abroad, since its inception, for their encouragement and well wish. I pray the Almighty Allah to appreciate their good intentions and encouraging spirit, as He (Allah) alone, can reward them abundantly.
First Meeting With the Sultan
It came as an undreamt surprise when my telephone rang at exactly 11.50 am on the first Sunday in February, 2007. My first reaction after picking the call was: “who is on the line, please?” especially when the call came without a recognizable identity. In answering my question the caller only identified himself as SA’AD ABUBAKAR. I immediately searched my brain for a possible familiarization with that name. But while doing that, I did not know that I was repeating the name ‘Sa’ad Abubakar’ in a seeming soliloquy until His Eminence said: “Ah! Don’t you know anybody bearing that name?” And, in my reaction, I said “well! the only person I can think of, that bears that name is the new Sultan”. It was then that His Eminence said: “alright, this is the Sultan”. At that moment, I became so dumfounded that I did not know what to say again. The only clear words that I could utter were “Your Eminence!” before I went stammering. I was simply overwhelmed. In that telephone conversation,
His Eminence expressed deep appreciation of my writings with a tone of royal commendation saying he had been reading my column since its days in the now defunct Concord Newspaper. He counseled me never to relent, especially in calling a spade a spade as I had been doing. And, as the Commander of the Muslim faithful, (Amirul Muminin), he showered me with royal prayers and promised to be calling again in future.
That was one telephone call that made, not just my day, but probably my year. It was one reaction that confirmed my observation expressed in this column about this new Sultan shortly after his installation in 2006.
By that surprise call alone, the new Sultan added to the chain of “FIRSTS’ which I had listed in the mentioned article. In my 25 years of experience in journalism, as at that time, I could not remember an occasion when any public figure of Sultan’s status ever made a similar call to any ‘common journalist’ except when seeking a media favour.
A Lunch With His Eminence
About two weeks after the above narrated encounter with him, His Eminence called again to invite me to Kaduna from Ibadan for a launch with him. And, at his palace in Kaduna, This great Sultan sat down with me on bare carpet where we took a special launch together. That was my first experience of royal conduct in Nigeria’s Sultanate.
By his conduct and actions so far, since he came to the exhalted throne, Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, has shown, by all means, an exemplary leadership for other Nigerian leaders or aspiring leaders to emulate. With him, we are being reminded of the Caliphate time of Umar Bn Khattab and Umar Bn Abdul Aziz as a confirmation that leadership is neither by vicious display of force nor by crude bully and animalistic brutality. May the Almighty Allah be merciful to Nigerian Muslim Ummah by preserving the life of this Sultan for the good of this world and that of the Hereafter. We also pray that the flame of His Eminence’s crescent glows brazenly for a long, long time to come without experiencing an eclipse. Amin.
Femi Abbas! It is unimaginable that a one time obscure Arabic pupil who never had the opportunity of a secondary school education could become suca global tutor of knowledge and discipline as you are today. I remember how we used to make jest of you by calling you Alfa. Our thought then was that going to Arabic school was the dead end for anybody to achieve anything through education in life. How I wish we could realise our folly then. Your case has further confirmed that greatness in life is never tied to Western type of literacy. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) never attended any school at all. Neither was he literate in any language. Yet he became the greatest teacher that the world has ever seen. Who can thwart the work of Allah? Femi, all my friends and I read The Nation every Friday because of you and it is as if we are back in the classroom. It was Yakubu Oorelope, I hope you still remember him, who drew my attention to your column. You are doing us proud. Please, teach on. You have students in us. One day we shall meet again and compare notes. I am sure none of us will have the courage to call you by your first name that day. God give us life and time. I hope you can still remember Taoreed Adeshina Aderibigbe, the stubborn goal keeper at Ogba, Agege stadium in the hopeless days of the late 1960s? Until we see physically let me continue to see you in The Nation.
‘Shina Show’, Agege, Lagos.
I can no longer be surprised by your standard in writing. You have proved your mettle as you once told me that you dropped Foreign Affairs job for Journalism after the NYSC service, to prove a point. And, indeed, you have done that beyond any reasonable doubt. I only wish to remind you once again that you should compile all these invaluable articles into a book form as an indelible legacy. May God help you.
Idris O. Gasper, Abuja.
“Femi, thank you for your brilliant Friday sermons, coming up in form of a column. Without a gun or sword, you have voluntarily chosen to be the people’s soldier defending us fiercely against the raging tsunami of the satanic forces who, unfortunately, happen to be our rulers today. I particularly enjoy your writing on Mr. President’s perception of national security and of course, the one on EFCC. If columnists like you were many, who can call a spade its real name, perhaps Nigeria would not have slipped into the hands of devils. Please fire on. Your pen is mightier than their missiles”. Bayo Jemitan, Ilorin .
6″Hello! Femi, Reading your column every Friday is like drinking cold, fresh water after a long trek in a hot desert. I am not a Muslim, but I see your column as one for all good Nigerians and not Muslims alone. With your article: ‘NO! MR. PRESIDENT, NO!’ published on February 2, 2007, you have endeared me to The Nation Newspaper. If what you are doing in that column is what Muslims call Jihad then I am for it. Don’t rest on your oars. May God strengthen your fortress in all directions?” James Ahamisu, Asaba.
“Thank you for reminding us of the late great leader, General MurtalaMuhammed, in your article of last Friday titled-‘EFCC: LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD’. If anybody is qualified to be called the father of modern Nigeria it is General Murtala Muhammed and not the leopard called Obasanjo, now parading himself as such. Through your article, we still remember that great leader (MurtalaMuhammed)’ revolution, reformation and reorientation of Nigeria within six months of his governance. Murtala was an impartial creator and executor of ideas. He was an exemplary leader who started reformation of our society with himself. He surrendered his personal property to the state because he believed that he wrongly used his office to acquire it before he became Head of State. And, he never sold any state property to himself at give-away price. Neither did he flout the law of the land despite the fact that he was a military Head of State. That was a leader by all standards. He, and not an impostor, self-styled messier, should be called and recognized as the father of modern Nigeria” .Ademola Atolagbe, Owu, Abeokuta .
“Hello! Femi, you are not alone in your opinion on President Obasanjo’s misconception of national security. Having moved from the prison to the Presidency without rehabilitation and reorientation, the man lost touch with modern reality and ruled with a prisoner’s vision. He has forgotten how Abacha started and ended. Such is the characteristic of African leaders. By the time he leaves the office very soon, and joins the league of former Presidents, God willing, his eyes will be open to the reality of what Nigeria is. Those who refuse to learn from history will surely bear the brunt of history”.