Prof. Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian Nobel laureate has wondered what is President Muhammadu Buhari still doing in Office while his government has been marred with ruthless killings by Fulani herdsmen across the nation.
The outspoken playwright spoke in Lagos on Tuesday at a press conference titled, ‘Nomads and nation: Valentine card or valedictory rites.’ He, however, described Buhari as a President in trance.
This is just as herdsmen struck again in Osun and Ondo states, sacking a council secretariat and burning a farm settlement.
Soyinka said he came to his conclusion based on “unforced errors,” adding that the President’s body language had aggravated killings by herdsmen in the country.
Soyinka, while reacting to a question on the three things he would tell the President if he met him, said, “I will say Mr. President you are in a trance.”
He noted that the sooner the President got out of the trance, the better for the nation.
Asked the form of trance the President was in, the respected playwright said, “I don’t know. So many unforced errors; take for instance, the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf, that was reinstated by the President.
“What is that about? What is going on?”
Recalling that the menace of the killer herdsmen started about eight years ago, he said the current administration’s body language aggravated the situation.
He called on hunters, vigilance and voluntary groups to disarm the killer herdsmen if police refused to check their activities.
He noted that hunters in Ogun State had joined forces to protect the state from the killer herders.
Soyinka said, “I am urging voluntary organisations to ask themselves when and how armed herdsmen would be disarmed. They need to ensure that anytime they see armed herdsmen, they report to the nearest police station. But if at some point, the police have not taken action and the armed herdsmen are not disarmed, these voluntary organisations should move into the places and disarm them.
“I mention this deliberately because I don’t want anybody to get the impression that war is being declared. No, no, no. We have not reached that stage and I hope we will not get to that stage.”
He also said Nigeria was in a new form of internal colonialism with the activities of the rampaging herdsmen.
Soyinka urged the police to watch individuals who might be profiting from anarchy.
He said, “I think the police have a responsibility to look at highly placed people in whose interest anarchy can be fostered. We might end up discovering that some of these people – I don’t care whether they are politicians or civil servants – have interest in ensuring that there is chaos from Maiduguri to Lagos.
“We sometimes talk about corruption, but we don’t know how far it can destabilise the polity. When you think of the amount of money that has been stolen in this country…, then you know there are enough illegal funds to destabilise the nation completely.”
Stating that clashes between farmers and herdsmen were not expected, Soyinka decried the way the situation had been handled.
He said, “And also the lies from servants of the public; the cynicism remarks which have been uttered. Can you imagine a minister of defence (Mansur Dan-Ali) opening his mouth to utter obscenities such as, ‘What do you expect the herdsmen to do if the path of their grazing route is blocked?’
“We are talking about the phenomenon of human butchery. We are talking about the villages which have been depopulated…Why is this man still in office? What sort of government tolerates that kind of callous individual within its ranks?”