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Herders-farmers crisis could lead to civil war if we don’t act -Soyinka

Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, has warned that the conflict between herders and local communities across the country could degenerate into a civil war if not properly addressed.

Tension has been running high in recent weeks over the allegations that herders are responsible for killings and abductions in the south-west.

Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo governor, had in January ordered herders to leave the state’s forest reserves.

In the same vein, Sunday ‘Igboho’ Adeyemo, a youth leader, had asked herders to exit Ibarapa local government area of Oyo, where attacks also occurred.

In a recent chat with BBC Pidgin, Soyinka said there is a need to ensure that the matter is settled amicably.

“My fear is that it could degenerate into violence that ends up in—I hate to use the word—a civil war unless we take action. I’m glad that governors are already dialoguing with groups like Miyetti Allah (cattle breeders),” he said.

“I’m also glad that they’re already discussing agreeing to obey the rules and that other groups are already liaising. I think we need to ensure they reach a consensus that will be fair to all parties.

“We’re struggling against an enemy that believes in acting the way they please. They believe they have immunity or that nothing can happen to them. That is why, in my own state, you find a soldier taking the side of an enemy.

“They actually escort killers, rapists, raiders while flogging the victims. That wouldn’t happen if the people are conscious of the nature of their enemy and are encouraged to collaborate with the security forces.”

Soyinka noted he once observed the level of damage done to farmlands by herders while hunting with his colleagues.

He stressed the need to encourage increased d between the locals and security forces towards ending the crisis.