Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Friday blasted President Muhammadu Buhari for evoking the bitter memories of the country’s civil war that ended 51 years ago.
The President had in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle earlier this week threatened to treat troublemakers in the country “in the language they understand.”
He wrote: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
The tweet was later deleted by Twitter for violating its rules.
Soyinka, who reacted to the President comments in a statement titled: “Off to Shock and Awe,” said it was funny that Buhari never sounded tough over the killing of innocent people in Benue State but was quick to evoke memories of the civil war whenever the South-East was involved.
He stressed that Nigerians had moved on from the civil war and wondered why President Buhari still spoke about it with nostalgia.
The playwright said: “When, however, a head of state threatens to ‘shock’ civilian dissidents, to ‘deal with them in the language they understand’, and in a context that conveniently brackets opposition to governance with any blood thirsting enemies of state, we have to call attention to the precedent language of such a national leader under even more provocative, nation disintegrative circumstances.
“What a pity, and what a tragic setting, to discover that this language was accessible all the time to President Buhari, where and when it truly mattered, when it would have been not only appropriate, but deserved and mandatory!
“When Benue was first massively brought under siege, with the massacre of innocent citizens, the destruction of farms, mass displacement followed by alien occupation, Buhari’s language – both as utterance and as what is known as ‘body language’ – was of a totally different temper. It was diffident, conciliatory, even apologetic.
“The evocation of the civil war, where millions of civilians perished, is an unworthy emotive ploy that has run its course. In any case – and this has been voiced all too often, and loudly – the nation is already at war, and of a far more potentially devastating dimension than it has ever known.
“Every single occupant of this nation space called Nigeria has been declared potential casualty, children being pushed to the very battlefront, without a semblance of protective cover. We have betrayed the future. We need no breast-beating about past wars. The world has moved on, so have nations.”