Soyinka advocates creation of volunteer groups to tackle armed herdsmen

Wole Soyinka [Photo: dailytimes.com.ng]

A Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has called for the creation of volunteer groups in states of the federation to monitor the activities of armed herdsmen.

Mr. Soyinka made the call during a press-briefing in Lagos, which he titled: “Nomads and Nation: Valentine Card or Valedictory Rites.”

Mr. Soyinka said since the security agencies are displaying “a kind of paralysis” in dealing with armed herdsmen who have been blamed for killings and destruction of farmlands across the nation, the people have to organise some kind of internal resistance.

Mr Soyinka, who pegged his statement with a fable from his primary school textbook, about ”an ungrateful camel which kicked its benevolent owner, Bedouin, out of his tent after allowing the animal to share his tent with it”, said cows are now infiltrating and competing for space with people.

He said the government has to first set a deadline for herdsmen to be disarmed.

“They (the volunteer groups) need to ensure that anytime they see armed herdsmen they should report to the nearest police station. But if at certain point the herdsmen are not disarmed, then these groups should move and disarm them, “he said.

He however explained that his call for the groups to disarm the herdsmen, ”is not a call for violence.”

“I mentioned this deliberately because I don’t want anybody to get an impression that war is being declared. I hope we will not get to that stage.

“These hunter associations will now intensify their surveillance anytime they see armed herdsmen. These associations: OPC, vigilante, hunters, if at certain time the police have not disarmed the herdsmen, these volunteer associations should move into these places.”

Mr. Soyinka thanked state governors that have already set up such groups of volunteers, as he was advocating, to watch herdsmen in their states.

The Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, was the first governor to employ the services of local hunters to check the excesses of herdsmen. Similar groups have also been set up in Benue State.

Internal occupation and colonisation

Admitting that the conflict between armed nomadic herdsmen and communities did not start now, he blamed the government for failing to nip the issue in the bud before it went out of hand.

He also said the ‘body language’ of the present administration shows that it was not ready to give the issue the attention it required.

He said the problem has now snowballed to such an extent that it could be described, ”as an internal occupation and colonisation.”

“They have reached a stage of impunity that they ambushed a group of farmers who were meeting to discuss the protection of their farmland.

“The character of those who we are meeting have changed drastically. I am talking of a phenomenon of internal occupation before Boko Haram exploded,” he said.

Corruption-fuelled conflict

Mr. Soyinka also opined that the herdsmen conflict and killings may be sponsored by people with access to ill-gotten money bent on causing anarchy in the country.

“I think the police have a responsibility to look at highly-placed people in whose interest anarchy can be fostered.

“We might end up discovering that some of these people; I don’t care whether they are politicians or civil servants, have an interest in ensuing that there is chaos from Maiduguri to Lagos.

“We sometimes talk about corruption, but we don’t know how far it can destabilise the polity. When we think of the amount that has been stolen in this country…then you know that there is enough illegal funds to destabilise the nation completely,” he said.


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  • Lanre

    Prof. Soyinka. Thank you for coming out and forcefully speaking. However, is there any thing wrong in demanding for a restructuring of the country into regions (like we had in 1963). Despite your faults, you are one of the major, moral voices of conscience left in Nigeria and who can still speak truth to power. The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali (who technically should not be speaking on this Cattle Herders Crisis since we have a Minister of Internal Affairs and an Inspector-General of Police) has already given a carte blanche to the terrorists. By saying that there were routes for herdsman in pre-colonial times to Bayelsa from Fouta Djallon or Gobir, Criminals are emboldened to kill in Saki, Iseyin, Guma and Enugu.
    Muhammudu Buhari is not only in a trance but also very irresponsible. I am going to leave you with one last piece. There are some human beings in this world that do not know their limits. They will cross the line with you until you stand up to them. One such person was Adolf Hitler. Another was Sani Abacha. We are seeing the same thing again with Cattle Herders and the support from prominent government officials. The extinction / subjugation of certain nationalities is never a mistake.

  • CEO

    If Wole Soyinka now feels that the government he ardently campaigned for, and helped to be istalled in power is no longer what he sold to the country, would he not first eat his humble pie by clearly apologizing to the country? Is this the time for another wild goose chase? Would he be the leader of this volunteer group he is now proposing? What is Wole Soyinka trying to achieve here, another farce like his “wole exit”? Life is not all about conjecturing and rationalizing. It helps to face the facts.

  • thusspokez

    Mr. Soyinka said since the security agencies are displaying “a kind o paralysis” in dealing with armed herdsmen who have been blamed for killings and destruction of farmlands across the nation, the people have to organise some kind of internal resistance.

    This is most irresponsible and indeed an incite to violence. You would think that a man in his position would be circumspect in his statement or avoid making reckless statements, but no, he is, in effect, advocating for local militias – which is a recipe for anarchy. Shame of him!

    • Bigtin

      Circumspect with a docile President and a rampaging enemy of occupation …..I pray to God the Terrorist herdmen visit you, your family and community with Violence, Killings and butchery as they’ve done elsewhere.

    • KELLOGGS

      You’re a knucklehead!

    • Friday femowei

      So what’s your recommendations.

    • Otile

      Dementia is setting on in your life. Nonsense

  • Solomon Brown

    Professor Soyinka is spot on with his
    analysis on how to tackle this issue of barbaric herdsmen. I’d go a step further by calling for the forming of a well regulated militia led by retired military personnel from areas prone to this type of violence, to take the fight to these blood sucking parasites. Someone has to be able to pay them back in their own coins, as the only language they understand is violence. Enough of trying to be the better person.

  • Nigbati

    My posistion on this will be to do a head count of cows in each local government of every states that have these animals. The head counts will tell us the true identities of the owners, then we can say what is going on. Hey i don’t know much about herdsmen, and their beasts, but the doctors says RED MEAT is bad for you, that much I know.