Given an opportunity to speak with President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof. Wole Soyinka would tell him: “Mr. President, I think you are under a trance.” The Nobel Laureate said this, yesterday, during a press conference titled: “Nomads and Nation: Valentine Card or Valedictory Rites” at Freedom Park, Lagos.
The sooner Buhari woke from the dream, the better for the nation, said Soyinka. Asked to explain the nature of the President’s reverie, Soyinka pointed at the missteps of the current administration.
“So many unforced errors. Take for instance the reinstatement of the fellow who was sacked from the National Health Insurance Scheme (suspended Executive Secretary, Usman Yusuf). He was reinstated by the President. What is that about? What is going on? It is like a certain kind of alienation from reality is going on,” said Soyinka.
“If the inspector general of police can sit in Abuja and say that an event that is happening under the jurisdiction of a governor in another state is just a communal clash, when people are being slaughtered and their villages are being occupied, it shows complete alienation.
“Then there is the authority of governors who have the ultimate authority for security. It is the governor who is supposed to be the chief security officer. We are now back to authoritative voices saying that the police need to be decentralised. We have been saying it and others have been saying for a long time. We are now getting back to the commonsensical issue that the nation cannot function under a single police command.”
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, ought to be relieved of his position, and Nigerians must meet attacks by armed herdsmen with organised resistance, he said, describing the cattlemen as a new breed of Boko Haram and internal colonialists.Asked whether a state of anarchy was brewing, he replied: “I don’t understand what you mean by anarchy. It is those who create the situation in the first place that are responsible for anarchy.”
He disclosed: “The security units have the responsibility to look at highly placed people. We might end up discovering that some of these highly placed people have an interest in ensuring that there is chaos in the country, especially as elections are approaching.”He challenged the Federal Government to set a date when herdsmen would be disarmed. People have two lines of action when they sight armed herdsmen: “Report to the police, then disarm the herder,” he said.
Soyinka nevertheless commended the Buhari administration for progress made in stemming the activities of Boko Haram. On restructuring, he said: “The parameters for restructuring are already laid out, yet the question thrown at you is, ‘What do you mean by restructuring?’ We must decentralise governance. The military came and distorted the internal relationship of the units that made up this country. They sit in one place and command all the resources as they wish. And anytime we talk about restructuring, you hear this gibberish about the sovereignty of Nigeria being compromised.”
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Bola Tinubu, meanwhile, has urged former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida to refrain from undue criticisms of Buhari.
In an exclusive interview with select journalists, yesterday, Tinubu said: “I don’t address those shadows. We should let our former presidents join retirees’ club and take pensions. They can participate in our politics if they are interested. It is a free world. But this freedom is not served à la carte. They should allow us to move our country forward. It is a challenge to every Nigerian.”
Tinubu, who expressed optimism on the chances of the APC in the 2019 elections, said: “We have a better chance and we are strongly determined to prosecute the election in a most transparent and democratic manner. And we will win.”