Zamfara State Imposes Arabic Language on Christians
Governor Thanks Saudi Arabia for Its Support

July 26, 2002
by Obed Minchakpu

GUSSAU, Nigeria (Compass) -- In a controversial step sure to inflame religious
tensions in Nigeria, the governor of the northern state of Zamfara, Ahmed Sani,
a Muslim, announced the enforced use of the Arabic language by all residents of
the state, including Christians.

Sani, who introduced sharia, the Islamic legal code, to states in northern
Nigeria in 1999, said he will enforce the teaching and usage of Arabic in order
to enhance the Islamic faith among the people, regardless of their religious

The governor disclosed his plan on Thursday, July 25, in a speech to
participants of a five-day workshop for Islamic clerics held in Gussau, the
Zamfara state capital. The Saudi Arabia Embassy in Nigeria organized the event,
which took place at the Jibrin Bala Yakubu Secretariat.

The governor said that enforced usage of Arabic would foster the relationship
between the residents of the state and the Arab world. He said arrangements
have already been completed to organize education programs.

"Very soon we shall organize a course for Arabic language so that we don't have
to speak in Hausa if we are communicating with you," he told the officials from
the Saudi embassy. "We will do our best to make sure that we understand and
speak Arabic."

Sani explained that the state government had already made the language
compulsory in its schools from primary to the secondary level, adding that what
was left was to organize lessons for adults to learn Arabic.

While thanking the Saudi authorities for their support of his administration in
the state since the implementation of sharia, Sani noted that God has entrusted
Saudi Arabia with the responsibility of taking care of the Islamic religion. He
commended them for being faithful in the task of ensuring the progress of Islam
around the globe.

Sani thanked Nigerian Islamic clerics for their unity, which resulted in the
successful implementation of the Islamic legal system, and urged the leaders to
continue in their work of entrenching Islam in Nigeria. He also expressed
happiness that other states now look up to Zamfara for direction towards the
total Islamization of Nigeria.

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