By Richard Elesho/ Lokoja
Like other states in the north, Sokoto has endured her share of security problems. For sometime, the peace of the caliphate has been rustled by tales of banditry, kidnapping and killings. But, on Sunday, April 4th, it was as if the elements went to sleep from their nefarious activities, as men and women, both old and young walked the streets freely and joyfully.
That day, the ancient seat of the caliphate came alive as one of Africa’s most respected traditional leader and the spiritual head of all Muslims in the country, His Eminence, Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III conferred a chieftaincy tittle on an elder-statesman and former Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris.
People congregated on the city from far and near to witness the turbanning of Idris as Jakadan Sokoto (i.e royal Ambassador). Among the congregants were the Governor of Sokoto Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal and Capt. Idris Ichalla Wada another former Governor of Kogi State. Some members of the National Assembly, technocrats, businessmen and politicians were also among the witnesses.
Dressed in a flowing white robe laced with a golden design, Idris caught the picture of piety and leader of a religious society. Once, he was turbaned, the Jakadan released the names of thirteen persons that will serve in his council. The choice of his title was deliberate. Born as an Igala in today’s Kogi State and raised in Onitsha by his trading parents, Idris have spent the better part of his working career in Sokoto.
He arrived the city around 1970 shortly after it became capital of Northwest State. He unfurled his talents and successfully established many business ventures under the Ibro trade name. His footprints were in hotels, furniture making, construction, pharmaceuticals and general merchandise. He raised many of his children in the city and they grew up to know the place as home.
Even when the expansion of his business compelled him to stay more time in Abuja, the nation’s capital and destiny later placed on him the leadership of his home State for nine years, Ibrahim’s attachment to Sokoto were unshaken. It was partly a proof of that attachment that his three daughters miraculously survived an air crash that claimed 103 lives while returning ‘home’ to Sokoto from Abuja in 2006.
As a man committed to community service and charity, Ibrahim does not despise his roots. During his stewardship in Kogi State, he was among the first chief executives that associated with the sultanate at every moment of need. For instance, about a decade ago when the main market in Sokoto went up in flames, Ibrahim did not hesitate to identify with the state. He paid a deserved visit to the market and announced a generous donation towards it’s reconstruction.
Ibrahim said his turbanning is a call to more service. He recalled that the Sokoto State Government once granted him a loan to reposition his business. “They have always shown me love without discrimination. To whom much is given, much is also expected. I know I cannot pay for the love. I will however, continue to seek the peace and development of Sokoto and by extension, Nigeria.” He said at the reception that followed in the sprouting Grand Ibro Hotel, Sokoto.
It was not only in the Sultanate that the former Governor have commanded attention in recent times. Indeed, it has been a season of unending ceremonies. Two days after the Sokoto outing, he played host to friends and family members in a low key birthday celebration.
The razzmatazz climaxed with the commissioning of a nearly 2,000 sitting capacity ultramodern central Mosque in Anyigba on Saturday, 10th April, donated by the former Governor.
Apart from its expansive auditorium the edifice comprises of 30 female and 20 male toilets and a beautiful premises. The mosque also came with a value added gift of a BMW car for the Chief Imam of Anyigba.
The Sultan was on hand to Chair the Mosque dedication ceremony. He disclosed that the Anyigba Mosque would be the third he was commissioning for Idris.
He was elated at the presence of Christian clergies and members at the occasion. In fact, the Catholic Bishop of Idah, Most Rev. Anthony Adaji gave a goodwill message in which he commended the zeal with which Ibrahim was contributing to the works of God.
Indeed, when it comes to religious interventions, Ibrahim’s giving knows no bounds. For instance, he gives generous rebates to churches and other groups whenever they use his facilities at Grand Ibro Hotels for religious functions. Some times, the facilities are given free of charge. The Septuagenarian has also donated vehicles and other materials to churches across the country.
The Jakadan Sokoto has either through solo effort built or contributed to the building of religious houses in places like Ejule, Abejukolo, Idah and Lokoja among others. The questions on the minds of most of his admirers and critics alike as he continues on the path of religious piety and charity are what does Ibrahim Idris wants? Why is he building mosques and churches?
They don’t have to go far for answer. “I am not doing this because I am the richest or I have so much money to throw about. No. I am prudent with what I have. God has been good to me all through my life. I know I cannot pay him for his superlative mercies to me. I am grateful for what God has done for me. In fact, God loves me so much that I believe he loves me more than everybody. I’m not saying he does not love others, but I know he loves me more.I feel there is no better way of thanking him than to provide a place where others can come and worship him,” he said.