You Must Wield the Big Stick against Herdsmen, Soyinka Tells Buhari


President Muhammadu Buhari must raise the big stick against the herdsmen that have been rampaging the country and spreading death in the land through wanton killing of Nigerians, Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka has demanded, wednesday.

Soyinka, who, like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, took to his pen to write the president, wants him to impress it on the herdsmen, whom he accused of carrying out the orgy of killings in order to take away the land of their victims that whatever gains they made in that direction, would be reversed and such land recovered from them.
The literary icon, who saw the entire crisis as nothing more than a scheme aimed at land-grabbing, conveyed his position in the letter, entitled: ‘On demand: A language of non-capitulation, non-appeasement.’

Soyinka according to, counselled the President to stop complaining of the people’s misgiving about his treatment of the situation, saying he had not done enough to dispel their assumption of siding with the herdsmen.

His words: “When President Buhari complains – see today’s media report, June 27 – that it is unjust for the public to accuse him of being silent on the killer herdsmen, that is exactly to what they referred – the erstwhile language of complacency and accommodativeness in the face of unmerited brutalisation.

“Buhari had yet to speak in the language that these murdering herdsmen understand – simply, 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.

“The plaint of ‘injustice’ is a misjudgment of the injustice done directly to the victims, and vicariously to the rest of us who turn to the news with dread every day, wondering what new stomach-churning accounts of the gory agenda on their humanity will replace the normal concourse of humanity,” Soyinka said.

According to him, the present government, had given Nigerians reasons to conclude that “governance had indeed expired, its elected head in a trance. It is not that long ago when I demanded that this declaration of intent – the reversal of land expropriation through mass murder –be made, and that the triumphalist beneficiaries of such obscene occupation agenda be openly given a deadline to self-evacuate, or be forcefully evicted,” Soyinka added.
He stressed the importance of both enforcement and its tempo in handling the situation, whilst acknowledging some commitment, but called for a total remedial package.

“Statements of outrage, humane sentiment, empathy, even visitations to afflicted areas are natural expectations from government, and perfectly in order. They are essential indications of concern and solidarity, even of admissions of lapses.

“They offer glimmerings of eventual measures of equity and restitution – of which we must never lose sight – else community sinks into despair, or enters the interminable spiral of reprisals. Visible pragmatic measures additionally assist in bolstering the optimism of victims, enable them to feel that they have not been abandoned,” Soyinka explained.

“Such are the relocation of security commands to vulnerable zones, deployment of Special Forces and attack helicopters etc. etc. – yes – all these are mandatory measures, it is their absence that constitute unpardonable negligence. Long term propositions, such as establishment of ranches, restriction of cattle movements, cultivation of fast growth grasses and so on – they all indicate far-sighted planning. They deserve approbation, but they are not exclusively remedial,” he added.

“Certain unconscionable events have taken place, and cannot be ignored. Entire communities have been erased from the national landscape.

“Thousands of family units are in mourning, survivors scarred and traumatized beyond measure. Famine looms in many areas, even in those lodged in acknowledged bread baskets of the nation. 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 – there is no other word for it – daring governments and nation to attempt to reverse their categorisation of communities as culpable, sentenced and deserving of some of the most revolting, onslaughts of ethnic cleansing that this nation has ever undergone.

“Once, when we spoke of internal colonialism, we referred merely to the military seizure of a people’s political will. Today, that phrase has taken on a bruising physicality – seizures of a people’s land patrimony and the abrogation of their centuries old resource of material survival. What is the ultimate destination of these new imperators?

“The answer is unambiguous: Land. The seizure of land either for seasonal grazing, for the lordly passage of cattle, or for permanent settlement. The rights of passage no matter the cost. This is what makes noteworthy this new language of objective appraisal, one that is indicative of remedial action,” Soyinka said.