The Nation / Nigeria: Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka wants President Muhammadu Buhari to declare his health status immediately in order to put a stop to speculations and the attendant political manipulations.
“Why is the President hiding his state of health? He’s supposed to understand he’s public property. Me I’m still private property, that’s why I’m not in Aso Rock,” Soyinka declared yesterday in Lagos.
He spoke on the theme Sacred cow.
He added: “Once you are in Aso Rock, or you occupy a similar position, you have a responsibility to come out frankly to your citizens.
“Guarding your state of health like Donald Trump is guarding his tax returns is not what we expect from a Nigerian president.”
Presidency officials declined to respond to Soyinka’s call when contacted yesterday.
A Presidency source said it was not the first time Soyinka was making the demand and that since the Presidency didn’t react the first time, it would not react now.
The source, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said: “Your story can go without the reaction of the Presidency.
“The Presidency did not react the first time and may not react this time around.”
Soyinka also raised the alarm that the security of his Abeokuta country home was recently breached by Fulani herdsmen for the second time.
He branded the invasion as an act of provocation but said it had been reported to the police and the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo Adedotun.
According to Soyinka, the herdsmen who also invaded the farms of his neighbours recently, came right to his doorstep and a brand new way sliced into his sanctuary and ecological preserve.
He described the invasion as rampaging impunity, noting that “we are living in a very dangerous time. The herdsmen made me convinced that it is a deliberate act of provocation.
“I don’t believe in conspiracy theory but the incidences that have taken place in the sanctuary are very alarming. The police have the records,” he said.
He recalled clashes between the herdsmen and farmers in the area and said that each time the police chased the herdsmen away, they would find a way to return.
His words: “They do not have respect for human life. They used human beings for suicidal bombing. Why should they not use cows as suicide bombers?
“…I see no other interpretation to all of this than a movement to enslave the citizens of the country and show that they are masters of the land. They are camping not as peaceful neighbours but as conquerors. One has the right to assume that any cow that comes right to one’s doorstep is a suicidal bomber.”
Soyinka is unhappy that the security agencies are shirking their responsibility of protecting the citizens who are now left to look after their safety.
He asked Nigerians to wake up the nation’s leadership on life and death issues especially on one’s land.
He said: “Herdsmen are worse than Boko Haram. Some kind of action is required, maybe declare a day of beef boycott to compel the leadership to take holistic action.”
On the plan by the government to create a grazing corridor for herdsmen, he said:”Creating corridor for cattle grazing will compound the problem, I do not think that is the solution,” adding that creating ranches for the herdsmen could be part of the solution.
Herdsmen had last year attacked Soyinka’s home while he was away abroad.
He had said then that he returned from a trip outside the country only to “find that my home ground had been invaded, and a brand-new ‘Appian way’ sliced through my sanctuary.”
On his US green card issue, he said he is done with it and completed all formalities at the US Embassy, Lagos where he was issued a non-immigrant visa that enables him travel to US when he desires.
“Since October last year, I have been in and out of US six times using the non-immigrant visa,” he said.
The president’s health status featured at a separate forum in Lagos yesterday with his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity,Mr.Adesina saying :“There is no need for apprehension.”
Adesina spoke to reporters on the sidelines of the of the launch of the book Against The Run of Play written by Olusegun Adeniyi, chairman of THISDAY editorial board.
“God spared the president the first time. Remember he said that he has never been as ill as he was before,” he said.
“ The same God that spared him will also ensure that he returns to full health. Nigerians prayed and God answered, Nigerians are still praying and God will still answer.”
Asked to respond to calls by some Nigerians that Buhari should resign on health ground,Adesina said the opinions of a few people demanding the president’s resignation could not, in anyway, override the verdict of the 15million Nigerians that elected him into office.
But he conceded while the Buhari should resign agitators have a right to their opinion.
“Saying the president should resign is an opinion but don’t forget that 15 million people elected the president so if one or two people express their opinion, will their opinion override that of 15 million people that voted for him?” he said.
“Those who are expressing their opinion have rights to their opinion.”