Renowned playwright, Wole Soyinka, has spoken about how he alerted a former National Security Adviser on the potential threat posed by the influx of strange nomadic herders in Nigeria.
In his recent public comments, the professor of literature berated President Muhammadu Buhari over his controversial comment to ‘shock’ insurrectionists and vandals of electoral commission offices.
“Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” Mr Buhari said, while warning against vandalism.
The statement, which many suggested to be a subtle threat of ‘genocide’, has been deleted by Facebook and Twitter, two social media giants, who claimed it violated their rules.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the federal government on Friday reacted angrily by suspending the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.
Mr Soyinka, in his reaction, said the president should be called to order.
“When, however, a Head of State threatens to “shock” civilian dissidents, to “deal with them in the language they understand”, and in a context that conveniently brackets opposition to governance with any bloodthirsting enemies of state, we have to call attention to the precedent language of such a national leader under even more provocative, nation disintegrative circumstances.
“What a pity, and what a tragic setting, to discover that this language was accessible all the time to President Buhari, where and when it truly mattered, when it would have been not only appropriate, but deserved and mandatory!”
He also commented on prevailing security challenges occasioned by incessant killings and kidnappings.
Armed herders’ influx
Speaking on the alarming farmers-herders clashes rocking the country, Mr Soyinka recalled a meeting he had with a former security adviser in London warning him about ‘strange’ nomadic herders ten years ago.
The Nobel laureate did not mention any name in his statement.
But PREMIUM TIMES recalls that Owoeye Azazi and Sambo Dasuki served as NSAs during the tenure of former president, Goodluck Jonathan, the predecessor of Mr Buhari, at the period Mr Soyinka was apparently referencing.
While Mr Azazi served between October 4, 2010 and June 22, 2012, Mr Dasuki served between June 22, 2012 till July 13, 2015.
Mr Azazi died on December 15, 2012 along with ex-Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State in a naval helicopter crash in Okoroba Village of Bayelsa State while on their way back to the Port-Harcourt Airport from a funeral.
Mr Dasuki, on his part, was later arrested and detained by the State Security Service (SSS) for allegedly stealing $2.1 billion meant to fund Nigeria’s fight against terrorism.
He was accused of awarding phantom contracts to buy 12 helicopters, four fighter jets, and ammunition meant for Nigeria’s military campaign against Boko Haram insurgency.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Dasuki, who was detained for about four years, was eventually released by the SSS in 2019 after the Buhari government frustrated several bails granted the ex-official by the courts
Mr Soyinka, who deliberately left out the name of the official, said “it took him months to agree to meeting the ex-official in the United Kingdom”.
“It took that long only because I refused to meet him within the country, since it had become clear that the security forces, in addition to high levels of governance, had become infiltrated by the very vicious elements that have fully established and sustained a lethal dimension. I was not about to let myself be “sold out” to unseen forces in my eagerness to sound an oppressive warning.
“We eventually met in London. The records, I am certain, will be found in the National Security files and, in any case, I went accompanied.”
The don said his mission was to “let him (ex-NSA) know that the nation was under siege and that the nomadic herdsmen that then threaded the forests were of a different breed from those whom we normally encountered in that environment that was also close to second home to some of us.”
Speaking further, the playwright said “the military general assured him that the military was aware of it”.
“That National Security Adviser assured me that the military was aware of this, and that his mission to the United States was to negotiate the purchase of spotter planes to patrol the forest routes. I retreated, satisfied, to my normal preoccupations.
“No, not entirely true – I did take other supplementary steps internally, including meetings with high level state officials in the West.”
He, however, lamented that “the same official was later accused of diverting resources meant to equip the military”.
“Now comes the rub! Imagine the chagrin, this past week or two, as revelations emerged, ten years after that meeting, of humongous amounts from oil resources being found in the US off-shore accounts of that pivotal figure of any nation’s security architecture! Is that an exceptional tale?
“Not in the least! He is not the first multi-starred general to be thus exposed, some even brought to trial. While Boko Haram was consolidating, a Nation’s Security Czar was also consolidating his nest egg with funds meant for elimination of a national scourge…”
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