by Wole Soyinka
Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, has said that the nation is on a “terminal nose-dive” and President Muhammadu Buhari is “missing”.
Using an airplane analogy, he said: “Strangers are in control in the cockpit. Put simply, the captain is missing.”
Soyinka’s latest intervention comes on the heels of the increased attacked by Fulani herdsmen resulting in killings and displacements, especially in the Middle Belt. The attacks by the herders has also seen them occupy the land in some of the communities they have attacked.
Soyinka described the attacks by the Fulani herdsmen as “ethnic cleansing”.
In a statement released on Monday, Soyinka issued a test, a question and an agenda for President Buhari.
“I propose one simple test, couched in a handful of minimalist demands, for President Buhari, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Nigeria,” Soyinka said.
“Give a nation-wide order to all land-usurpers in the affected towns and villages across the nation to quit those forcefully occupied lands within a forty-eight hours deadline. Issue orders to the military and police that, wherever illegal occupiers are found, they should be meted the same treatment as are accorded terrorists. Instruct all agencies that, once cleared of usurpers, the rightful occupants should be escorted back to their farmsteads and villages and provided maximum protection. We must go beyond arresting a token handful of herders caught with arms – there are still hundreds of them in the forests. It is not enough to back the anti- open grazing laws, so late in the day, but we shall leave that for later.”
To succeed in this test, Soyinka said the government needs to do the following:
“What is a Minister of Defence, who openly justified the homicidal rampage of nomadic herdsmen, still doing in government?” Soyinka said.
Recall that Nigeria’s minister of defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, had earlier this year justified the killings carried out by Fulani herdsmen blaming the anti-grazing laws passed by some states for the violence.
According to the Nobel Laureate: “Right now however, the agenda has to be Restitution. Restitution to the displaced, the maimed, the traumatised survivors and the nation’s suppurating psyche. The torrent of Internally Displaced Persons is a national shame, and the growing number of the kidnapped an embarrassment. The plane cannot remain on auto-pilot as hitherto, while the pilot strolls up and down the aisle, assuring passengers that all is well.”