Prof Wole Soyinka doesn't think President Buhari is doing enough to check activities of killer herdsmen.
In an essay titled: ‘impunity rides again through killer herdsmen’, Soyinka called out the Muhammadu Buhari administration for not doing enough to tackle the killer pastoralists.
Here are 7 take-aways from Soyinka’s piece:
According to Soyinka, the Boko Haram insurgents were first seen as a harmless bunch of rag-tag persons fed up with the system.
"Boko Haram was a product of social inequities, they preached – one even chortled: We stand for justice, so we are all Boko Haram! We warned that – yes indeed – the inequities of society were indeed part of the story, but why do you close your eyes against other, and more critical malfunctions of the human mind, such as theocratic lunacy? Now it is happening again. The nation is being smothered in Vaseline when the diagnosis is so clearly – cancer!” Soyinka wrote.
The Nobel Laureate called on the government to go hard on the killer herdsmen.
Here is how Soyinka puts it:
“We have been here before – now, ‘before’ is back with a vengeance. President Goodluck Jonathan refused to accept that marauders had carried off the nation’s daughters; President Muhammed Buhari and his government – including his Inspector-General of Police - in near identical denial, appear to believe those killer herdsmen who strike again and again at will from one corner of the nation to the other, are merely hot-tempered citizens whose scraps occasionally degenerate into “communal clashes” – I believe I have summarized him accurately.
“The marauders are naughty children who can be admonished, paternalistically, into good neighbourly conduct. Sometimes of course, the killers were also said to be non-Nigerians after all. The contradictions are mind-boggling”.
There were stern words in his piece for Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
Soyinka thinks that like Buhari, El-Rufai has been making excuses for the herdsmen; most of whom have been identified as kinsmen of both leaders.
Read below and see for yourself:
"First the active policy of appeasement, then the language of endorsement. El Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, proudly announced that, on assuming office, he had raised a peace committee and successfully traced the herdsmen to locations outside Nigerian borders.
"He then made payments to them from state coffers to cure them of their homicidal urge which, according to these herdsmen, were reprisals for some ancient history and the loss of cattle through rustling. The public was up in arms against this astonishing revelation.
“El Rufai’s comment then was: No life is more important than another. Today, that statement needs to be adjusted, to read perhaps – apologies to George Orwell: “All lives are equal, but a cow’s is more equal than others.”
Miyetti Allah is the umbrella organization to which all cattle herders belong.
Soyinka thinks the group should be proscribed like the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB).
“This question is now current, and justified: just when is terror? I am not aware that IPOB came anywhere close to this homicidal propensity and will to dominance before it was declared a terrorist organization. The international community rightly refused to go along with such an absurdity.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me state right here, and yet again, that IPOB leadership is its own worst enemy. It repels public empathy, indeed, I suspect that it deliberately cultivates an obnoxious image, especially among its internet mouthers who make rational discourse impossible.
“However, as we pointed out at the time, the conduct of that movement, even at its most extreme, could by no means be reckoned as terrorism. By contrast, how do we categorize Miyetti? How do we assess a mental state that cannot distinguish between a stolen cow – which is always recoverable – and human life, which is not.”
Ogbeh came in for criticism for saying that the herdsmen crisis boils down to Nigeria’s inability to develop livestock farming.
After calling Ogbeh his “good friend”, Soyinka writes:
“No, no, not so, Audu! It is true that I called upon the government a week ago to stop passing the buck over the petroleum situation. I assure you however that I never intended that a reverse policy should lead to exonerating – or appearing to exonerate – mass killers, rapists and economic saboteurs – saboteurs, since their conduct subverts the efforts of others to economically secure their own existence, drives other producers off their land in fear and terror”.
Here are his words:
“The warnings pile up, the distress signals have turned into a prolonged howl of despair and rage. The answer is not to be found in pietistic appeals to victims to avoid ‘hate language’ and divisive attributions. The sustained, killing monologue of the herdsmen is what is at issue. It must be curbed, decisively and without further evasiveness.
"A peace meeting was called, attended by the state government and security agencies of the nation, including the Inspector General of Police. This group attended – according to reports - with AK47s and other weapons of mass intimidation visible under their garments. They were neither disarmed nor turned back. They freely admitted the killings but justified them by claims that they had lost their cattle to the host community".
According to Soyinka; “Yes, Jonathan only saw ‘ghosts’ when Boko Haram was already excising swathes of territory from the nation space and abducting school pupils. The ghosts of Jonathan seem poised to haunt the tenure of Mohammed Buhari”.
In December 2017, a section of Nigeria's online community criticized Soyinka for not being as outspoken on Nigeria's challenges as he was during the Jonathan era.