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When our royal fathers misspeak

Miscue. Misspeak. Goof. Faux pas. Slip of the tongue. Whichever you wish to call it, two of our most important institutions, were guilty of this.…

Miscue. Misspeak. Goof. Faux pas. Slip of the tongue. Whichever you wish to call it, two of our most important institutions, were guilty of this. They are the traditional institution, custodian of our customs and values.

Now, our revered royal fathers whose words are usually considered as the gospel truth not only goofed in Zamfara state but also recanted. Under the aegis of the Zamfara Council of Chiefs, the traditional rulers had accused the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) of killing ‘innocent civilians’ during its operation Diran Mikiya meant to flush out bandits that had been terrorizing the state. The air force high command denied this, whereupon the royal fathers through the Emir of Bungudu released names of 11 ‘innocent citizens’ bombed to death by the NAF fighter jet and helicopter gunship.

However, speaking to a team that was sent by the Chief of Air Staff to investigate the claim, Emir of Anka who is Chairman of Zamfara State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Attahiru Muhammad Ahmad, reportedly said, “I apologise over whatever embarrassment the statement may have caused and from now on, we have drawn a line, there won’t be anything like that again… out of the 17 emirate councils that we have in the state, mistakes occurred in only four and the submissions we made were gathered in the last two years. I also want to state that nothing happened on innocent citizens in the last six months in the state. The Emir of Bungudu is not the spokesman of the Council even though he read our press briefing that day. The list of victims that he released to the press on a later day did not emanate from me nor was I aware of it as the chairman; I will only take responsibility because I am the chairman”. What are we to make of this recant, that the Emirs’ earlier statements were a slip of the tongue? They misspoke?

Oh, I have just learnt as I was about to submit this piece that His royal highness, Emir Ahmad has denied recanting. He reportedly said that he only used “words of respect” as demanded by custom and tradition in addressing the Chief of Air Staff’s team that paid him a courtesy call in his capacity as the state’s Council of Chiefs’ chairman.  In his latest remarks he was quoted as saying, “As the Council of Chiefs, we did not intend to smear the hard-earned reputation of the Nigeria Air Force; we only cited the killings of innocent people as an example in a reaction to the claim by the Minister of Defence, Brigadier-General Dan Ali who on baseless reasons, accused traditional rulers of aiding banditry activities in the state”.

What is clear is that there is disagreement between the royal fathers and the Defence Minister who happens to be an indigene of Zamfara. The rift should be settled in a dignified way, not through the current back and forth spats between both parties. The Council should call their son, their subject, Dan Ali to the palace for a heart to heart talk, behind closed doors. This accusations and counter accusations distracts from the kernel of the matter which is curbing the high incidence of banditry in Zamfara state for which all hands should be on deck, from the traditional rulers and other influential citizens to the masses.


Victoria Ngozi Ikeano, Lafia, Nasarawa State

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