Your Eminence,
Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar IV,
the Sultan of Sokoto,

Assalaamu’alaikum warahmatullaahi wabarakaatuh. I offer you greetings on the holy month of Ramadan; may Allah fill our hearts with courage and make our way closer to the victory. May Allah always be with us.

Your Eminence, it is no longer news that there is a new virus ravaging the world and our dear nation, Nigeria, has not been left out of its pernicious grip, this I believe you are aware is the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the lethal disease referred to as COVID-19.

The numbers of infections keep rising by the day, and we are constantly losing loved ones to this disease, which has become a pestilence and global pandemic. Yet, it is true that “Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even if you should be within towers of lofty construction.” (Holy Qu’ran, 4:78) and Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.

…I beseech you to step in at a critical time like this; one in which purveyors of fake news are taking advantage of our religiosity and spirituality to perpetrate evil by confusing many Nigerians, including the Islamic faithful, and giving them false confidence about the severity of the pandemic.

However, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, also said: “If you hear that there is a plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it (plague) visits a land while you are therein, do not go out of it”, [Book 76, Hadith 43].

It is rather unfortunate that a lot of Nigerians are still in denial of the existence of this virus and pandemic, and this is where we must all come in as well-meaning citizens of this country, and most especially leaders of uncommon calibre as Your Eminence.

The cases in Kano, Lagos, and Abuja, alongside all other parts of Nigeria, where little is still known about the extent of infection due to the paucity of coronavirus testing, I must confess, truly worry me, as well as many other people across the world, and I am fairly certain that these worry you as well. But like we all know, worry has never solved any problem. This is why I have sought to reach out to you through this public channel.

As the spiritual leader of Muslims in Nigeria, who make up about half the population of the country, I beseech you to step in at a critical time like this; one in which purveyors of fake news are taking advantage of our religiosity and spirituality to perpetrate evil by confusing many Nigerians, including the Islamic faithful, and giving them false confidence about the severity of the pandemic. Either that there is no pestilence of the coronavirus/COVID-19; that it is an affliction of only the evil ones among us; or that the faithful are safe from it. It is at a time like this that we all yearn to hear from the mouths of our leaders, who can offer critical enlightenment about the reality of this pandemic, the dangers we all face from it, and what we all need to do in order to keep safe.

…speak to us on the true nature and existence of this deadly virus; speak to us on the need to join forces with frontline workers and the government to flatten the curve of infections and disease, and save more lives; speak to us on why we need to obey movement restrictions and other issued guidelines, as the Holy Book instructs…

Your Eminence, it is only the shepherd who speaks the language that the flock understands; I strongly urge you to speak to the people who look up to you, on the need for us to protect ourselves in this most hazardous of times; speak to us on the true nature and existence of this deadly virus; speak to us on the need to join forces with frontline workers and the government to flatten the curve of infections and disease, and save more lives; speak to us on why we need to obey movement restrictions and other issued guidelines, as the Holy Book instructs, “O ye who believe! obey Allah, and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority over you”.

I am certain that with this, there will be a significant change in our responses to this ravaging pandemic.

Once again, my greetings to you and all the faithful on this holy month; Ramadan Kareem.

Allah ya sa mu dace. Amin.

Sincerely

Chiamaka Okafor

Chiamaka Okafor is with the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), Abuja.

Picture credit: Wikipedia.