Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to treat the issue of herdsmen killings being reported all over the country with kid gloves, saying the herdsmen are becoming more deadly than the highly dreaded Boko Haram sect.
Soyinka, who stated this while fielding questions during a press conference at the Freedom Park on Lagos Island, Lagos said wanton insecurity that has engulfed the nation, especially the herdsmen crisis seemed to have plunged the president into a state of trance.
He said the sooner the president got out of the trance, the better for the nation, lamenting that the president was committing lots of unforced errors and could not imagine why Buhari should reinstate the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Umar Yusuf, who was suspended over questionable circumstances and was being investigated.
Dwelling on the herdsmen crisis in the country, Soyinka decried the onerous and total failure of the Federal Government to protect the lives and properties of the masses as herdsmen had gone on killing spree across the country.
He described as unacceptable and irresponsibly the nonchalant attitude of the government in handling the herdsmen crisis, saying that it had reached a point where the people would have to protect themselves.
Soyinka also decried series of cow invasion of his premises and some other parts of the Southwest State, saying that he had reported to the police several times but warned that next time cows invaded his territory, there might be suya feast.
The Nobel laureate called for organised resistance against herdsmen invasion in territories in order to avert the wanton killings that occurred in Benue State and some other states in recent times.
Soyinka urged voluntary organisations and associations like hunter associations to form themselves into groups to disarm any herdsmen found with arms.
According to him, once a herdsman was found with weapon, the police should first be reported to for prompt action and that if the police failed to act, the voluntary organisations, such as Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, hunter associations and others should move in to disarm such herdsman or herdsmen.
He charged the various associations to intensify surveillance to nip in the bud herdsmen invasion in their communities in the Southwest if the police could not do their jobs properly, leaving the people with no choice than to defend themselves.
Soyinka further said the crisis between farmers and herdsmen was not new, noting that the way the crisis had been ignored in recent times had created problems.
“We need to understand that the confrontation between farmers and the cattle rearers are not new. But the issue of concern is the way the attack had been handled by the government and the lies that followed after the attacks, especially from remarks from the public officeholders, especially from the Minister of Defense.
“Can one imagine the minister of defense opening his mouth to utter words in support for the attacks perpetrated by the herdsmen across the country? With those words, why is that man still in office? What sought of government is that?”
Soyinka also kicked against the proposed establishment of colonies as a way of solving the herdsmen/farmers crisis, saying that ranching was preferably as it was being done in other parts of the world, adding that no business should warrant killings of people for whatever reason.
“Establishment of ranches is the solution that many countries have adopted to prevent clashes between these two set of people. There is something I called governance body language. The body language of the government is sad and it has allowed the attack to continue for long. The long term planning proposed by the Federal Government has not gone hand in hand with the security necessity,” he stated.
The Nobel laureate also said there were lots of stolen money in the system which disgruntled elements could use to destabilise the nation, especially when the 2019 elections were around the corner.
Soyinka also backed the introduction of State Police, saying it could help in solving the herdsmen crisis, adding that a situation where there is centralise police system had not helped the system.