Nobel laureate, Prof. Wọlé Soyinka in an interview over the weekend with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) pidgin warned that the conflict between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in different states of the federation can degenerate into civil war if the federal government fails to properly handle it.
Soyinka also 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, torturing and by occupying lands that do not belong to them.
You would recall that amid the increasing herdsmen violence in the South-west, Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu had directed all Fulani herdsmen living in any part of the state’s forest reserves to leave within seven days.
In Oyo State, a Yoruba youth leader, Sunday Adeyemo (a.k.a Sunday Ighogho) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Fulani community in Igangan, Ibarapa North Local Government area of Oyo state, over allegation that they are responsible for the rising insecurity and kidnapping in the area
However, a human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana noted that the order Akeredolu issued that herdsmen should leave forest reserves within seven days was legal.
Condemning the alleged killing and raping by Fulani herdsmen nationwide, Soyinka said there “is a need to ensure that the matter is settled amicably.”
He said: “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.”
He further tasked the president “to address the nation. He should 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.