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Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature, says the incessant killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen across Nigeria could be likened to the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994.
In a statement he issued to mark the 2018 May Day celebration, Soyinka called on President Muhammdu Buhari to provide the nation with maximum protection by ordering the Nigerian armed forces to treat all those carrying out the killings as “terrorists”.
Soyinka stressed that the best way to describe the carnage playing out in several states across the nation is “ethnic cleansing, and we must not beat about the bush. The shade of Rwanda hangs over the nation”.
President Buhari must “issue orders to the military and police that, wherever illegal occupiers are found, they should be meted the same treatment as are accorded terrorists”, Soyinka stated.
“Instruct all agencies that, once cleared of usurpers, the rightful occupants should be escorted back to their farmsteads and villages and provided maximum protection.
“All available forces should be deployed to right a hideous, unprecedented wrong that has left the nation drowning in blood – we simply cannot continue one day longer to endure this forceful feeding of human blood.
“The plain expression is ‘ethnic cleansing’ and we must not beat around the bush. The shade of Rwanda hangs over the nation.”
Soyinka also said that questions should be asked of the federal government’s sincerity in tackling the menace of herdsmen killings. One of the questions is: “What is a Minister of Defence, who openly justified the homicidal rampage of nomadic herdsmen, still doing in government?”
Most importantly, Soyinka said the government must focus on “restitution to the displaced, the maimed, the traumatised survivors and the nation’s suppurating psyche”.
“The torrent of Internally Displaced Persons is a national shame, and the growing number of the kidnapped, an embarrassment,” he said.
Soyinka described the situation in Nigeria as the ill-fated Aeroflot Flight 593 that crashed on September 28, 1994, due to the obvious carelessness of the pilot who left the plane in autopilot, with his family members in the cockpit, and was conversing with passengers in the cabin.
“Aeroflot Flight 593 of Sept. 28, 1994 was such an event, a flight in which all occupants of that plane perished,” Soyinka said.
“The captain was not even in the pilot’s seat – others were! They were the pilot’s family – mostly his children. The pilot’s seat had been turned into a family game of musical chairs.
“Where was the Captain? Somewhere along the aisle, saluting the passengers – all quite proper, and indeed encouraged by regulations. He had placed the plane on auto-pilot – just as this nation has been for some time.
“The ‘black box’ – or flight recorder – indicates that the pilot never even got round to shouting ‘May Day’ over the radio – he was too busy struggling to restore the plane’s technical functions, shout instructions, pull the plane out of a nose-dive, and attempt to right the craft – too late!”
Connecting the story to the Buhari administration, Soyinka opined that “Strangers are in control in the cockpit. Put simply, the captain is missing.”