By Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani
The Emir of Muri, HRH Alhaji Abbas Njidda Tafida OFR, as it is the tradition, delivered an Eid ul-Adha speech to his subjects to celebrate the event. As it is the norm, the Emir does so in both of the Eids in his palace, in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital. Accordingly, the people of Muri Emirate every year eagerly look forward to attending his court to listen to his Eid speech for the contextual significance of such addresses.
The last one which was delivered, after the Eid prayers, was not overly different from any he had made before in terms of the tone except for those, who had not been following the Emir’s activities, especially Sallah speeches. Sarkin Muri Alhaji Abbas Njidda Tafida OFR has been known to have a reputation for blunt speaking, fearlessness, and daring to a fault. He has indeed followed in the footsteps of his famous forefathers, Hamman Ruwa dan Usman, Abu Bakar dan Hamman Ruwa, Muhammadu Nya dan Abi Bakar, and his grandfather, Muhammadu Mafindi dan Muhammadu Nya and indeed, all other emirs of Muri emirate whose place in history has long been cemented for bravery.
The names mentioned above are not the chronological representation of the noble people who have ruled Muri, the Emirs of Muri or rightly Lamibe Muri in Fulfulde. Instead, this is just a sample of the historical antecedents of the current Emir, which is apparent to many. So, this digression towards memory lane is for the consumption of those who barely know him.
Lamido Abbas Njidda Tafida OFR has never been known to mince words. He spoke and spoke truth to power without any element of fear, which for me is the hallmark of a good leader. When I saw the video clip of the said speech the next day after Sallah, I listened to what I thought my leader or leaders anywhere should speak to a large extent in this highly demanding moment in our history as an independent entity. Nigeria is on the edge of the precipice. I have always believed that the avalanche of security challenges bedevilling this country makes every contribution towards getting us out of the woods worth considering before making decisions.
I believe the Emir of Muri was disappointed, appalled, and outraged at the spate of insecurity confronting his emirate in particular and the nation as a whole, which led him to deliver the speech. He acted as anticipated of leaders, especially of his nature, the traditional rulers, whom so many have opined to understand better their domains than any other constituted authority of whatever magnitude. Whereas this may not be applicable in all places, it is to a large extent.
Yes, His Royal Highness, Lamido Alh Abbas Tafida OFR made some rather harsh points, which I understood as someone speaking from the point of view of a leader enraged by hardened criminals who have held our people to ransom. So, he made comments which were largely misconstrued or deliberately taken out of context to suit a specific agenda, script, or scheming of those who don’t mean well for anyone. Some tabloids, blogs, newspapers, etc., reported that the Emir of Muri had given a 30-day ultimatum to Fulani to leave his emirate or be evicted, eliminated, and all sorts of strong, wordy, and sensational headlines that are in line with what they perhaps want, which are all false.
For some, it doesn’t matter the fact that the Emir of Muri himself is Fulani and could not have issued an ultimatum to all Fulanis, which will include himself. He won’t do that and not for any sentimental reason. But for equity and justice. He certainly won’t issue an ultimatum to any other tribe. However, this doesn’t matter to some, who are hell-bent on making the Fulanis scapegoats for every misfortune that befalls them.
Of course, some so many kidnappers are Fulani by tribe, so many bandits are Fulanis, and indeed other criminal activities, which the Fulanis engage in. I can’t write any percentage here because I don’t know the percentage. However, it is also true that all tribes are involved in all of these acts of criminality. In light of this, I will concentrate on what directly connects to the speech made by our revered leader, the Lamido of Muri. It won’t be wide of the mark if the Fulanis are said to be the majority embroiled in all these. I think it is the crux of the matter being discussed, the Emir of Muri’s Sallah day speech.
As a royal father, especially the overall leader of all Fulanis in Taraba State, it is only right that he spoke his mind and made it vivid that he is disappointed with those Fulanis who engage in these nefarious activities. This is the right step to take, and he boldly took it. But, unfortunately, it is left for others who prefer to play politics with everything to proceed when their houses are not just literally on fire but also their entire emirates, chiefdoms, kingdoms, local governments, states, or even the country as the case may be, is sitting firmly on a powder keg.
If there is any moment to act, it is at this decisive moment. Any other moment we aren’t guaranteed. If the sight of a hapless woman running and leaving her children despite the well-known affection that exists between children and mothers, don’t throw you into inconsolable grief then, I am sure the sight of any of those condemned criminals harassing your loved ones while asking you to raise ‘astronomical figures’ in currency, at a time when feeding any meal at all three times a day is fast becoming the exclusive of a few: this is the height of callousness and should be collectively confronted by all citizens without adding any ethnic colouration to it.
Criminals, as I have always maintained are nothing, but criminals. Any other thing is secondary. You may not understand this now. However, I pray you never have to face them, but asking anyone who has been a victim of kidnapping, banditry, or even terrorism knows for a fact that there is no special treatment for victims based on ethnicity, faith, or region, at least to the best of my knowledge based on my interactions with some victims and the literature I have consumed in that regards. Unique treatments are the only figment of the imagination of some of us law-abiding citizens, who those contemptible people haven’t caught, but sit behind their keyboards, write columns, or even go to national television to eulogise those criminals because of their ill-thought-out affinity with these beasts. When you are caught, God forbid, everything will be crystal clear. I hope it doesn’t get to that.
It is not enough to merely hope. We are doomed if the only thing we could do is hope without holding our government accountable so they can do even more to win these wars. The worst mistake we could make is paying lip service to this predicament because our kinsmen are involved, some adherents of our faith are part of it, or to achieve a sinister motive. There is only one result coming our way with this mindset, a certain outcome of unimaginable proportion: by then, the deed would have been done, and we cannot turn the tide.
We must unite, cooperate with security personnel to arrest the array of security challenges we are battling with; when we fail to do so because we fear for our lives, we shouldn’t live under any illusion that we are secure with that miscalculation, for no one knows the next victim. But one thing is sure we will all die one day, for some of us, we believe at the appointed time. The bandits and terrorists that sack villages and go about maiming, eliminating, or leaving deep scars on us have one life too. However, with more beneficial civil-security relations and a better understanding among all Nigerians, we stand a tremendous chance of getting the right result.
The Emir of Muri as a sage has come out to take practical steps. Where he erred in that speech by resulting in generalisation, the Emir has already made amends. He summoned a meeting of the Fulani leaders where he admonished them using verses from the Holy Qur’an and other sources of knowledge for the benefit of what we all seek, peace. For his intentions from the get-go were clear.
The speech was delivered to find lasting solutions and should be firmly situated in its context bearing in mind that we are on the verge of self-destruction as a nation. Therefore, it was done to seek the return of peaceful, serene, and lively emirate where people will go to sleep with their two eyes closed, where our widow’s mite would not be used to settle some kidnappers even when we are barely surviving, where criminals would not be given any breathing space because they are our relatives, purportedly share the same faith with us, or for whatever reason. I long for this day when criminals will be criminals and rightly dealt with as such.
It should be noted that the vast majority of the Fulanis, like all other ethnic groups, are law-abiding citizens. Therefore, it is up to all Fulanis, the security personnel, and Nigerians, in general, to work amicably to return Nigeria to the path of sanity, meaningful life, and mutual respect for one another. May the reign of Emir of Muri, HRH Alh Abbas Njidda Tafida OFR belong, as he recently clocked 33 years on the throne of his forefathers. May his Emirate continue to prosper, and may the good triumph over evil everywhere.
Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani wrote from Tukari B, Jalingo, Taraba State. He can be reached via email@example.com.