*President’s ill health identified as his main obstacle in 2019 presidential poll
*Dangote, Mo Ibrahim, Liverpool’s Mo’ Salah, Paul Pogba and Zidane also on list
For the third consecutive year, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Saad Abubakar III, and the infamous Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, have been listed among the most powerful Muslims in the world.
This is contained in a Muslim publication, The Muslim500 in its 2019 edition, an annual compilation of the good, the bad, and the ugly in the Islamic world.
Billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Aliko Dangote, also made the list. Others are one of Africa’s richest men, Mo Ibrahim; Egypt and Liverpool’s star player, Mohammed Salah, who was ranked 46th; former Real Madrid coach, Zinedine Zidane; and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba.
According to the publication released on Muslim500 website, Buhari has achieved much progress in the areas of corruption, economy and security in Nigeria.
President Buhari, who has always been accused by his critics of being a religious bigot, was described in glowing terms in the Muslim500 report.
The publication said of the President: “Buhari was the first chairman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and was the mastermind behind the construction of 20 oil depots throughout Nigeria, a project involving over 3200 kilometres of pipelines. Both the Warri and Kaduna refineries were built under his leadership. He also established the blueprints for the country’s petro-chemical and liquefied natural gas programmes.”
It, however, noted: “Buhari has confirmed he will seek a second 4-year term in the presidential elections scheduled in February 2019. Buhari’s ill-health and an opposition coalition of more than thirty parties will be his main obstacles.”
Yet, it is the view of many Nigerians that Buhari’s erratic health status pales into insignificance when compared with the threat former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s presidential ambition poses to the incumbent.
While commenting on the influence the Sultan wields in Nigeria, the Muslim500 report noted: “As Sultan of Sokoto, he is considered the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s 85.5 million Muslims, who account for roughly 50 percent of the nation’s population. Although the position of Sultan of Sokoto has become largely ceremonial, the holder is still a central figure for Nigerian Muslims. Seventy million Muslims look to His Royal Eminence as their spiritual leader.”
Buhari and the Sultan were ranked 17th and 21st, respectively among the top 50 Muslims in the world.
It explained that Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, had carried out a number of atrocities, adding that Shekau speaks “Hausa, Arabic, and English and claimed to have undergone theological training.”
Another Nigerian who made the cut of 500 most powerful Muslims is Yakubu Musa Katsina.
Describing him the publication said: “Sheikh Yakubu Musa Katsina is a popular preacher in Nigeria.
He is also the leader of the Izala revivalist sect in Katsina.
The Izala, or Jama’at Izalatil Bidiawa Iqamatus Sunnah (Movement Against Negative Innovations and for Orthodoxy) is an activist Sufi brotherhood that calls for a return to the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a true practice of Islam. Hailing from Katsina, the predominantly Muslim city in northern Nigeria, Sheikh Katsina is outspoken against corruption in the country.”
JAMB registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede and former Justice Minister, Prince Bola Ajibola, who were on the 2018 edition of the publication, however, had their names omitted in the 2019 edition.