Soyinka slams Buhari, El-Rufai over southern Kaduna killings
Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka yesterday criticised President Muhammadu Buhari’s and Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s handling of the southern Kaduna crisis. “If you ask why Gen. Buhari did not act fast enough when these events took place, which degrade us as human beings, it was perhaps he had been waiting for the governor of that state to send money to the killers first for them to stop the killing,” Soyinka said.
This was the first time that Soyinka who supported Buhari’s bid for the presidency last year would openly criticise him. This shows how the president’s handling of the crisis over which he did not comment for a long time despite the carnage is alienating him from his support base.
Soyinka said at the launch of a book, Religion and the Making of Nigeria in Abuja yesterday that he was not astonished by the admission of El-Rufai that he paid out money to foreigners to stop the carnage on Nigerian soil.
“There was nothing new about it. Has appeasement to religious forces not become a Nigerian face of justice and equity? First lethargy and then appeasement. Was Boko Haram’s Muhammed Yusuf not a beneficiary of appeasement in a similar fashion?
“What, however, concerns the rest of us, no matter the internal wrangling, rivalries or controversies within any religion, is that the innocent are often those who pay the highest price. The non-adherents to one line of belief or another,” Soyinka said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was also at the launch lamented the hypocrisy displayed by Nigerians on the issue of federal character, wondering why cases related to religious violence were not brought to a logical conclusion.
His words: “Very few people have been prosecuted for religious violence but none has ever been brought to conclusion. Why is it that such cases are never concluded? Too many cases of high-profile murders that are not concluded in this country.
“National character is very hypocritical. When we are playing football, we all clamour for the best legs because we want to win. We don’t ask how many Muslims or Christians are on the team. When you are sick, nobody asks the religion of the doctor, we only ask about competencies.”
Meanwhile,π Buhari yesterday met with security chiefs over the prevailing insecurity in southern Kaduna, the Niger Delta and other parts of the country.At the meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Minister of Defence, Mohammed Dan-Ali, disclosed that troops had been moved to southern Kaduna while negotiations were ongoing to end the killings in the area.
The military also said it had concluded an arrangement to launch an operation as part of measures to completely restore peace in the wake of the insecurity in the area.The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, who gave the indication at the end of the security meeting, yesterday disclosed that the exercise would also cover some parts of Plateau and Kano states. He said the operation was akin to the other military endeavours in the Niger Delta, among others.
In another development, there is fear in Itiam Etoi community in Uyo Local Council and Akwa Ibom State capital following clashes involving Hausa/Fulani scavengers and local residents alleged to be ‘area boys’ from the community.
It was alleged that no fewer than three persons were feared killed in the incident leading to the heavy presence of security operatives around the community.
Eyewitness told The Guardian that the problem started on Tuesday night when a Hausa scrap dealer carrying a generator in a wheelbarrow was accosted around the Udo Udoma area of Itiam Etoi by some local residents.
“They asked him for settlement , and when he refused to pay, the youths resorted to confronting him. The minor misunderstanding led to a brawl and forced a reprisal attack from the Hausa/Fulani settlers in the area,” he said .The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Cordelia Nwawe, confirmed that there was a crisis but denied that there were casualties.