Presidency: He lacks broader perspective of event
Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is under a trance and that the sooner the president gets out of that trance, the better for the nation. He also expressed frustration about the ‘unforced errors’ of the Buhari administration.
The Nobel Laureate called on relevant authorities to check the wave of attacks being perpetrated by armed herdsmen across the country, which he described as new breed of Boko Haram. Soyinka, who spoke yesterday at a press conference in Lagos, also called for an organised resistance to the menace, describing the armed herdsmen as a new breed of Boko Haram and internal colonialists. When asked what he would tell Buhari if he met with him, Soyinka replied: “I would say: Mr. President, I think you are under a trance.
The sooner he gets out of it the better. “So many unforced errors are going on,” he added. When was asked the form of trance the president was in, Soyinka cited Buhari’s recall of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, after he was suspended for alleged graft as an example of the ‘unforced errors’ that has characterised this administration.
“There are so many unforced errors. Take, for instance, the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf, reinstated by the President. “It is like a certain kind of alienation from reality.” He noted with concern that “we have undergone internal colonialism by the military. We have undergone and resisted internal colonialism of Boko Haram. Now we are being subjected to another form of colonialism of herdsmen.”
Soyinka expressed support for the call for state police and restructuring of the country, which he said is overdue. He said the phenomenon of herdsmen and farmers’ clashes is not new, but that the issue has graduated to an alarming state in the last eight years.
“Clashes between farmers and herdsmen are not unusual; what is unusual is the use of sophisticated weapons, the rhetoric and statements by those in governments. “On the 27th of January this year, the herdsmen invaded a place in Sagamu and destroyed over 20,000 tree seedlings. The police succeeded in arresting one of the cows which they handed over to the nearest police station. We have written letters to the Governor of Ogun State and the police in the state. “One thing is that this is not new; this has been happening. But this is the first time that tree seedlings are eaten by cows. I am worried that it has got to a stage where tree seedlings are being eaten by cows. Cows are infiltrating and now seeking for space with humanity,” he said.
He added: “The important thing is the consciousness of a need for organised resistance against the incursion of cows. “In Ogun State, we have formed a sort of informal organisation called OSHA (Ogun State Hunters Association) and we intend to collaborate with similar movements, the police and the military.” He also said that state governments, who have set up organisations to protect their citizens from attacks by the armed herdsmen, need to take the organisations seriously and make them well equipped to successfully disarm the armed herdsmen and prevent recurrent invasions. Soyinka also called for concerted effort, particularly support from voluntary organisations such as OSHA, OPC, Vigilante, and others to join hands in the fight against herdsmen by collaborating with security agencies. “Hunters associations should, anytime they see armed herdsmen, call the nearest police station.
If they find the same herdsmen armed again, then these organisations should move in to disarm the herdsmen. Long term planning has got to go hand in hand with the security of lives and property.” Building of ranches, he said, is the way every other society has solved the herdsmen/farmers’ clashes. “Setting up ranches has got to be accelerated.
We used to have functional ranches. What happened to them?” he asked. On the issue of state police and restructuring of the country, the erudite scholar and activist said: “We need to decentralise the police in a nation like this. We need to restructure this country.”
He, however, expressed satisfaction with the efforts by the military to curb the menace of Boko Haram terrorists. “We must commend the progress being made by the military in the war against Boko Haram. Enormous progress has been made.” But the President has stated that Soyinka’s view lacks broader perspective. Speaking on Channels TV last night, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Soyinka’s view was not a gospel truth. His words: “The Nobel laureate is somebody that we respect so much. He is one of the most noble people we have in the country.
He is one of Nigeria’s greatest gifts to the world. We respect him. But then, despite all that, his opinion would still be his opinion; his opinion would not constitute the gospel truth. “And don’t forget that Professor Soyinka is coming from one perspective. You know he is not in government. If he is in government, he may have a broader view; he may see the different sides of the coin. So, I will just say he is talking from one side of the coin that he knows. But he is an illustrious Nigerian and he has my respect.
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