Professor Wọle Soyinka has warned that the conflict between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the country could lead into another civil war.
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) pidgin, Soyinka called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation and dissociate himself from the activities of those who run their businesses by displacing, killing, raping, torture and by occupying land that does not belong them.
He accused Buhari of being complicit in the spate of killings by Fulani herdsmen, which has escalated in all parts of the country since his coming into power in 2015.
He expressed concern over the way government was handling the situation while accusing some security operatives of taking sides.
While condemning killing and raping by Fulani herdsmen, Soyinka said there “is a need to ensure that the matter is settled amicably.”
“My fear is that it could degenerate into violence that ends up in— hate to use the word—a civil war unless we take action. I am glad that governors are already dialoguing with groups like Miyetti Allah (cattle breeders),” he said.
“I am also glad that they are already discussing agreeing to obey the rules and that other groups are already liaising. I think we need to ensure they reach a consensus that will be fair to all parties.
“We are struggling against an enemy that believes in acting the way he pleases. They believe they have immunity or that nothing can happen to them. That is why, in my own state, you find a soldier taking the side of an enemy.
“They actually escort killers, rapists, raiders while flogging the victims. That wouldn’t happen if the people are conscious of the nature of their enemy and are encouraged to collaborate with the security forces.”
Soyinka noted he once observed the level of damage done to farmlands by herders while hunting with his colleagues, stressing the need to encourage dialogue between the locals and security forces towards ending the crisis.
He urged Buhari to address the nation in unambiguous terms. Say openly that “I know I am the patron of Cattle Rearer Association of Nigeria. Cattle rearing is a business and I rear my cattle on a business term”
“I do not run my business by killing people. I do not run my business by raping, by displacing or by torture.
I do not run my business by occupying land that does not belong to me,” Soyinka tasked the president to dissociate himself from the nefarious activities of Fulani herdsmen.
He said the current crises could escalate into a new phase of serial skirmishes, where the people would become violent and the government, less focused, a situation that would ultimately swell into a civil war and a very untidy, messy one at that.
Unless action is taken, I’m very glad the governors are coming together and discussing in all seriousness, I’m very glad that they are pulling in renegade groups like Miyetti Allah, for instance and obviously talking sense into them.
“I notice that their spokesmen, leaders and representatives, I notice that they’re now talking about accepting the decisions of the governors and agreeing to obey rules – very different from the defiant and arrogant language they were using in Benue. It was a totally unconscionable language.
On Sunday Igboho, Soyinka, said contrary to media reports, the two of them had never met, neither did him depict him a hero, but on the other hand, but admitted that the Yoruba militant leader was responding to the current situation at hand.