By Obinna Achi, Enugu
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has urged Nigerians to unite irrespective of religious and tribal differences to build a prosperous nation.
Abubakar made the appeal on Tuesday at the awards/reception ceremony for Rangers International FC of Enugu players organised by the state government.
The Sultan said that the country’s unity should be manifested beyond football or sports competitions.
“There is no country in the world where the vast majority of Christians and Moslems or various tribes co-exist than Nigeria; so we must build on this strength in diversity.
“A Nigerian is supposed to live happily and freely in any part of the country he resides; we, Nigerians, must stand together and not allow politicians to use religion or tribe to separate us.
“We have been co-existing for over 200 years now going down to the pre-amalgamation days; and we should continue to live as one,’’ he said.
On the issue of killer herdsmen, he said that it was not only Fulanis that were herdsmen, adding that anybody caught killing another or committing a criminal act should be treated as a criminal.
“A criminal is a criminal no matter where he is coming from. So, we must unite to track down and apprehend these unscrupulous elements that kill under the guise of rearing animals.
“We should work closely with each other, especially among the well-known northerners who have lived all their lives in the South-East to apprehend these criminals and bring them to book,’’ he said.
Abubakar said that in Sokoto State free education was given to all Nigerians irrespective of religion or where they come from.
“The same attitude I would love to see here. First, that everyone should be treated with justice and given equal opportunity as the resources of the state can take for us to build one united and prosperous nation,’’ he said.
On Rangers FC, Abubakar said that as a young army officer posted to Nsukka about 36 years ago, he usually come to commission football matches then.
“From then, I have been following the progress of Rangers and some other notable football clubs within the South-East.
“I am happy that Allah graciously crowned your effort to clinch the 2015/2016 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) trophy after 32 years,’’ he said.
Speaking, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, attributed the success of the club to God’s grace, adding that most of his predecessors had tried earnestly to win this trophy but to no avail.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank Enugu State people and football fans that have prayed, supported the club financial and morally to achieve this success.
“I want to thank Rangers’ players, management board, supporters club, the state sports ministry and host of others for making this possible,’’ he said.
The Commissioner of Sport, Charles Ndukwe, commended the governor for his support to the club as well as for galvanizing other philanthropists to donate to the club.
In an address of welcome, the Acting Chairman of Rangers’ Board, Steve Oruruo, thanked the state government for the reception and honour accorded to the club.
“I will assure you that the club will do well in the 2016/2017 NPFL and Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League as well as Federation Cup tournament,’’ Oruruo said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the club was presented a cheque of N41.5 million by the state government as well as the players given a plot of land each at Rangers Estate, Enugu.
Emmanuel Okala, Dominick Nwobodo and Christian Chukwu, all ex-Rangers’ players, also received honours from the Sultan.
Four Rangers players also received award for outstanding performance in the 2015/2016 NPFL season.
The Best Player of the 2015/2016 NPFL went to Obinna Nwobodo; Best Behaved Player of the 2015/2016 NPFL went to Okechukwu Odita, while Most Constant Player of the Year went to Christian Madu and the Highest Goal Scorer of the Season went to Chisom Egbuchulum.