Buhari not speaking in the language killer herdsmen understand—Soyinka

*Soyinka, Buhari

Carpets Mansur Ali’s unedifying comments on herdsmen attacks

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has criticised President Muhammadu Buhari’s abysmal handling of killer herdsmen wreaking havoc in some parts of the country.

Reacting to the recent herdsmen killing of no fewer than 100 persons, hospitalisation of more than 200 injured persons, and razing of more than 50 houses villages in Barkin Ladi, Mangu and Riyom local government areas of Plateau State, Soyinka said the president was yet to speak in the language the murderous herdsmen would understand.

In a statement entitled ‘On Demand: A language of non-capitulation, non-appeasement’, Soyinka said the president had yet to tell the killer herdsmen that: “Forceful seizure of land will not be tolerated in any part of a federation under his governance. That the temporary acquisition of weapons of mass elimination by any bunch of psychopaths and anachronistic feudal mentality will not translate into subjugation of a people and a savaging of their communities. That any such gains are illusory and temporary and will be reversed.”

Soyinka who called on the president to make killer herdsmen pay for their crimes also reacted to the president’s complaint that ‘it is unjust for the public to accuse me of being silent on the killer herdsmen’ saying the people’s perception was based on their observation of his (president’s) “erstwhile language of complacency and accommodativeness in the face of unmerited brutalisation.’’

He said certain unconscionable events had taken place in the country which could not be ignored, adding that entire communities had been erased from the national landscape, thousands of family units in mourning and survivors scarred and traumatised beyond measure.

He stated that famine loomed in many areas, even in those lodged in acknowledged bread baskets of the nation, adding that “impunity, gleeful and prideful impunity substitutes for decent self-distancing from once unthinkable crimes – let us not even speak of expressions of remorse and human empathy. The instigators, increasingly fingered as directors of human carnage are strutting around, defiant, justifying the unspeakable, daring a nation…’’

Noting that land-grab must be reversed, Soyinka said the restored would still require to be defended and aggressors also served a lasting lesson both from the manifested responsibility of governance, and the resistant will of the people.

“Accounting for crimes is also part of that responsibility, and such criminality must not be seen to be rewarded through idealistic solutions that paper over crimes against humanity. For that is the present actuality. Crimes against our humanity have been committed, and restitution must be made. Nothing less will restore confidence in a government, and reassure the people of its integrity, its commitment to equity in internal relationships and the rightful custodianship of ancient resources,’’ he said.

He also said the time for false pride “is over and if the nation lacks the necessary technical resources, then there remains only one blameless overdue recourse and it is for the President to ‘Get help.’

He recalled that five young men were recently sentenced to death by a high court for allegedly killing a herdsman stressing that though he was not condoning murder in any cause or by anyone, it is necessary to insist on transparent and impartial justice.

“The agitating question then is this: since this rampage began, has even one herdsman been brought up before those same courts on a charge of murder, much less sentenced to death at such lightning speed? Shall we wake up and find that they have been hanged? Yet Zamfara has lost hundreds to the homicidal orgy of these same herdsmen. There is a skewed application of justicial proceedings here that baffles many, this writer among them.’’

He revealed that when he visited the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, he (Ortom) bitterly lamented that security agencies had ordered his communities to surrender even the very machetes of routine use in farming.

Soyinka also said what he termed as ‘the Danjuma thesis’ that helpless Nigerians should defend themselves is neither new nor strange, but simply a restatement of the logicality of human response in the face of aggression.

On the provocative comments by Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) Soyinka said the pastoralists’ organisation which he described as ‘self-vaunting instigators’ in the nation’s herder colonisation was being promoted by the minister of defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, on behalf of the government.

Soyinka added that if an individual qualified to be the guinea-pig for testing the outrageous hate bill speech contemplated by the nation’s lawmakers, it is the “unedifying pronouncements of the minister of defence”, who “continues to defend the indefensible through his arrogant, provocative dismissals of an agenda of ethnic cleansing, dehumanising the victims anew, and camouflaging the failure of the government by his gratuitous blame-passing.”

Additional reports from Punch




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