Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to address Nigerians and make it known publicly that he does not support the criminal activities of some herdsmen in parts of the country.
Soyinka spoke in an interview with BBC News Pidgin.
He warned against another civil war if nothing was quickly done to address the herdsmen crisis rocking the nation.
Soyinka said, “We may enter a phase of serial skirmishes which may get more and more violent and develop – I hate to use the word – may develop into a civil war and a very untidy and messy one at that. That is my biggest fear.”
Oyo and Ondo states have been in the eye of the storm lately over security challenges and the moves to check the activities of killer herdsmen.
A popular Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo, well known as Sunday Igboho, had issued a seven-day notice to quit to herdsmen accused of crimes in the Ibarapa area of Oyo and enforced same.
Governor Rotimi Akerdolu of Ondo State also said herdsmen must register with the state government or vacate the state forest reserves.
Commenting on the herdsmen crisis, Soyinka said there should be civil mobilisation now that the herdsmen crisis is at the doorstep of the people of the South-West region.
He said, “If we keep waiting for this to be centrally handled, we are all going to become, if not already, slaves in our land. That for me is intolerable and unacceptable.”
“We are here to live in dignity (but) right now, our dignity is being rubbished,” he lamented.
On what should constitute the speech of the President to the nation on the herdsmen crisis, the Nobel Laureate said Buhari should “address the nation in very stern, unambiguous terms”.
He said the President should say openly:
“Yes, I know I am the patron of the cattlerearers association etc. I’m a cattle rancher myself, it is a business and I run my business on business terms. I do not run my business by raping, by displacing, by torturing.
“I do not run my business by occupying lands that does not belong to me and I am warning all business people in the food commodity, all you cattlerearers, whatever comes to you for illegal occupation or trespassing on other people’s property is your business.
“And I am ordering the army, all the security forces to back citizens’ efforts in flushing you out. I expect nothing less, even at this stage, it is very late but this is what I expect from President Buhari and as long as that language does not come, I must consider him quite complicit in what is going on because the buck stops at his desk.”