By Peter Duru, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Davies Iheamnachor & Ibrahim HassanWuyo
Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Middle Belt Forum, MBF, and Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, yesterday rose in support of Nobel laureate , Professor Wole Soyinka, asking President Muhammadu Buhari to act fast on the herders’ crisis to avert another civil war in the country.
Prof. Soyinka had, in BBC Pidgin Service on Saturday, urged the President to tackle the activities of herdsmen across the country to stave off a civil war.
”We may enter a phase of serious skirmishes which get more and more violent and may develop into civil war and a very untidy mercy one. That’s my biggest fear,” the nobel laureate had told the President.
Aside from calling on members of the international community to be interested in the herdsmen crisis and intervene to salvage the country from the present mess, National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said while featuring on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ yesterday that the group was in support of Soyinka’s declaration.
Asked whether the Nobel Laureate and others with similar comments were beating the drums of war, Odumakin said: “The Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, is (well-) known. You cannot say that he is beating the drum of war or he is an alarmist.
”People are painting the reality that is on the ground. If what is happening in the South-West today, let’s say some Yoruba boys had gone to do one per cent of that in the north, there would have been a war in this country by now.
“So, when Professor Wole Soyinka is warning President Buhari now that if you don’t speak up now, what is going on will lead to civil war, he is not just talking in vain.”
Odumakin said President Buhari was maintaining ‘civil silence’ over the heinous crimes committed by killer herders, while the Presidency continues to act as the mouthpiece of the herdsmen.
“But the world and the international community should be interested in Nigeria at this moment and get Nigeria out of this mess.
“It is clear now that the possibility of internal solutions is getting limited, we don’t have an authority in leadership that can get us out of this mess. And the implication of a war in Nigeria for the rest of the world is very serious.
“Therefore, they should get on their feet now and begin to get interested in Nigeria to get us out of this mess that we are in,” he said.
Reacting in a similar vein, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, did not only throw its weight behind Soyinka’s call on the President but also said it had actually, before now, made a similar call on the President to act fast.
National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, said: “We made a similar call on January 23 this year on the President and the governors of the South West to act swiftly on this issue to avert a civil war. The call by Prof Soyinka is just a re-echo of what we did almost two weeks ago.”
Also reacting yesterday, the National President of Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu said Prof. Wole Soyinka’s warning was timely and perfectly correct.“Speaking in Makurdi, Dr. Pogu cautioned that the unity of the country would be threatened if armed herders were allowed to continue their attacks on a monolithic South West and urged the President to listen to the voice of reason and act fast.“He said: “Prof. Soyinka’s call was timely and perfectly correct. These armed herders did the same thing unchallenged in the Middle Belt and nothing happened despite the accusations of collusion with the security forces.
“Now they have gone to a monolithic group, which is the South West, and in such a monolithic group, they are no match to the structures on ground.
“If they continue the attacks the way they have been going about it in the Middle Belt and other parts of the country with impunity, certainly a civil war will erupt and it is going to be an unfortunate situation. ”So it is high time President Buhari woke up to address the issue unless he never cared in the first place.
“But a President who cares, seeing the clear handwriting on the wall, coupled with the escalation we are witnessing on daily basis, as we move forward, will address the nation and do something very quickly.“
“It is unfortunate but it is good that people like Prof. Wole Soyinka are speaking on the matter, at least the man might listen to the voice of reason, seek wise counsel and save the country from going down the drain.
“The warning is timely because a civil war in the country now would mean total balkanization of this country. May God help us.”
Put sentiment apart, treat killer herdsmen as terrorists, PANDEF tells Buhari
Similarly, the Pan-Niger Delta Elders Forum, PANDEF, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to shun sentiment and treat killer herdsmen as terrorists.
National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, urged the President to be firm in taking decisive action against the killer herdsmen.
He said: “It is not far from the truth because the ramification of a group of persons forcibly occupying other persons’ land and forests will definitely bring up reactions as we are beginning to see now. And when people begin to react, it is possible that there could be counter reactions in other parts of the country and that could snowball into large scale ethnic crisis in the country.
“PANDEF and other well meaning individuals in the country have been calling on the President to be firm with the issue of these herdsmen.
“We understand that the President was or is a patron of Miyetti Allah and he himself is also a cattle rearer, I think his own cattle is not roaming about and occupying other people’s land.
“He should be firm and put sentiments apart and stop this soft approach on this people who are marauders.
“They are not herdsmen, they are terrorists, they are killers. So why are we dealing with them with soft gloves? Drastic actions should be taken against them.
“Of course, we do not also support a situation where people in the guise of protesting these herdsmen do things that are unlawful.”
In his reaction, elder statesman and prominent Igbo leader, Mbazulike Amechi, called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to ignore the call by Prof. Wole Soyinka to avert civil war in Nigeria and the country’s disintegration due to herdsmen crisis.
Amechi specifically told the President that if he continues to ignore the calls made by Wole Soyinka and other statesmen who are not politically motivated by their calls, advise and admonitions, he is putting a stop to Nigeria, which he will stand to regret.
He said: “You know that Prof. Wole Soyinka has been a crusader of justice in Nigeria. When the crisis started in Nigeria, when the Biafran War was about to start and other crisis that led to the Civil war, he told the government the truth at that time and they arrested him and clamped him into the prison, they punished him for telling them the truth.
“He is not a man that will be silenced; he is doing the same thing he did to government at that time by telling them the truth of the possible things that will happen in the country if the government fails to address the herdsmen crisis and caution the Fulani herdsmen and their Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association if Nigeria, MACBAN, handlers, and their patrons. “President Buhari should do that now. I fully endorse what Soyinka said; yes, Soyinka is right and you will recall that I have been making similar calls for peace to reign in the country, and if Buhari continues the way he is going, he is putting a stop to Nigeria.
“Politicians will not like to tell him the kind of truth people like us will always tell him; we are not asking him for anything, we only want him to hold the country together and not to allow it disintegrate under his watch.
”I have made the call last week and I am making it again that the country should not disintegrate under his watch, the politicians are not interested is saving the country with him, they are only interested in the money they make from his government and what they will gain from his administration.”