Despite being a veteran politician, Senator Bello Maitama Yusuf, the Sardauna of Dutse, has an amazing leaning to Islam which to some extent made him an expert in Islamic field. Abdul Rauf Musa, explores different dimensions of the man’s life in this interview.
You are an Islamic scholar, a politician and a philanthropist, how were you able to combine these contrasting endeavours?
Well, I can say that it is by determination and ambition. Everything depends on what you intend to do and if you have a clear direction, clear mind, clear heart, then you can embark on not only two or three issues which you have already mentioned, but you can embark on as many as possible and it is possible to be accomplished in them all. So it depends, honestly, on the charisma, objective of the person who wants to do whatever he wants to do. For me, in order to achieve something, you have to show what you do and what you are going to do for the benefit of human race. You need also to extend hands of friendship and hands of generosity to your fellow human beings.
Let me tell you, if you happened to be a rich man which comes from God you must know that whatever you get is not meant for you alone. You are just a custodian. If you have money, the money does not belong to you, it belongs to God. He can leave it with you or He can take it any time he wants to. But in essence, it is for you and for the people.
Recently, I watched a DVD of you and how you went to some various Islamic sites around the world. What was it all about?
This is a project of over 32 years, and I am able to accomplish it this year. I had started visiting these sites since before I become a minister. When I become a minister, any time I had an opportunity I made sure that I went to one of these places. I am a Muslim, so as far as Muslim or religious sites are concerned, they are very important to me. You will find them in Palestine and Saudi Arabia, Jordan and to some extent Iraq, Syria and Jerusalem in Israel. These are all the areas where all the Prophets of God lived. When you are looking for the grave of any prophet you wouldn’t tell me that you will go to Brazil. You can’t tell me that you are going to South America or Jamaica. So I am opportuned to visit all these places. I am very happy for what I did. And I am very happy to release it for the benefit of Muslim brothers and sisters.
This is a project of more than three decades. How did you manage to record, compile and package all the DVDs?
Well, I told you earlier that, when you have an ambition, you pursue it to the last. All along, I had wanted this. I had wanted to see what is in it that the Qur’an has said, so I did the best I could to visit the places. For example, God Has spoken to Moses at the Mount Sinai. I went to the place and I saw how it is. And about the burning bush, I went to the place also, and I saw how it is.
There is a place in the DVD where you talked about a mysterious tree.
Yes, the tree is on your way to Damascus. From Madina you come to Tabouk, from Tabouk is in between that area, up to the border. This is a tree which I told you is wonderful. When the Prophet was young, he went and slept under it. A Jew told Abu Talib that he should be careful with this young man, because only Prophets can come here and sleep, so he should take care of him that if the Jews saw him, they would kill him.
There are some Ulama and important Muslim personalities from, let’s say, Asia, were you able to venture into that area, especially the famous town; Bukhara which was said to be around Russia?
Yes, Imam Bukhari was born in Russia. And Salmanul Farisi was also from Iran, but Asia is where the prominent ones are. The one who took Islam to India/Pakistan for example, was a king from India. He saw the miracle of the moon and heard about the Prophet Muhammad and he came to Mecca, met the Prophet and converted to Islam. Before, he was following Hindu religion. So after accepting Islam, on his way back home, unfortunately, he died in Oman. His grave is there in Oman. People visit him there because he is a Sahabi (a companion of the Prophet).
Do you intend to widely circulate the DVD and to have a book version to enable the general public and schools benefit from the wealth of knowledge in it?
I have started. I have one thousand Hadith on various subjects which are in print now. During the period of about 25 years, I have been doing tafseer (exegesis of the Holy Qur’an) here and I have been giving du’a. So the tafseer which runs for about 90 hours is coming in DVD. I am also getting the du’as (Falalar Addu’a) which I have been giving people in a book form and I am coming out with a book on the story of the Prophet Abraham.
Let’s go back to politics, since Second Republic you have been part of the political arena in Nigeria, how can you differentiate the polity in Second Republic and what we have today?
I think both periods are challenging. I believe there was more dedication then than now. People want to make money now. In the Second Republic we didn’t see politics like that. We saw it as an opportunity to serve the people and we served them diligently.
There is this perception that during your time as a legislator, there was more maturity than now in terms of awareness and the work of legislation. What is your take on that?
Well, it depends on time. I cannot judge myself, it is the public that will judge us and judge the rest.
During your time, people like Jibril Aminu, Iya Abubakar, Arthur Nzeribe, Uche Chukwumerije and your likes were more matured and experienced . . ..
(Cuts in) That is the ‘Juggernauts,’ the ‘Timber and Caliber’ (laugh). Yes, yes they were there. I don’t know who is there now. But the current leadership of the Senate is capable, especially the Senate President David Mark who has been around since 1999 and he is giving the Senate a good direction and purposeful leadership.
What is your opinion on the crises that has been bedeviling the North?
Any nation which wants to be anything in life has to suffer. I can say that we are moving forward. I don’t believe that the crises are all happening in the North alone. Kidnapping is also happening in the South. Killings are still there, even before it started in the North. It is a Nigeria’s problem. As a nation, as a federation, we should work together. We are all the same in same country.
What about the Boko Haram issue?
I did answer you about everything. I told you we will overcome all these problems as a nation. What you need to deal with all these is justice and fair play. Everybody should feel belonged to a country called Nigeria. Provide employment and provide opportunity for people to be employed. And once you get that, people will eat three square-meals. And that can only be possible if you harness agriculture seriously. Before, it was agriculture money that was feeding the country and also stands as source of the country’s main economy, all of a sudden things went bad. So I assure you things will come to pass the way they have been passing before. This is not a new thing.
What is your opinion on the PDP convention that was held recently which saw the emergence of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the chairman of party?
Well, Tukur is a capable hand. He is a man who is highly principled, well talented and I believe he will steer the party thoroughly. All that he needs are support and cooperation. Given that, am sure, he will sail through and he will take the party to the promised land.