Mnguember Vicky-Sylvester, Professor of Literature and Gender Studies at the University of Abuja, has faulted the lax way security agents are responding to conflicts in the country and government’s moves to create cattle ranches across the country, at the tenth Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series held in Lagos on Friday 13 July, in commemoration of the 84th birthday of Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature.
Mnguember, a literary historian, expressed concerns over the Tiv people, about whom her book ‘Long shadows’ was written, who according to her, are being sacked out of their villages in Benue State, Taraba State and Nasarawa State by unknown armed men.
Lamenting the situation, she said: “The security people are not doing anything. Government should show concern. You meet police men by the roadside and you ask them, “I want to go to this village”, they will tell you it’s not safe to go into. Why? What makes that village not safe?”
Concerning government moves to create ranches across the country, Mnguember said: “Feedlots can be given all over the place if you talked to animal scientists. We don’t need to have cattle roaming around. If they are in feedlots, they don’t move around. They feed them with silages or hay, which can be planted around the environment, harvested and kept for feeding the animals; and we have lots of land from Kano to Bauchi, you have Tudun Wada area, which is an empty land, and Sambisa Forest. Why can’t government make feedlots or ranches in these areas for those who want to use them?”
Noting the need for journalist to show courage, be objective and pay attention to details in conflict situations, she said journalists should investigate and make recommendations on the cattle ranch creation, cattle rustling and killings in conflict areas of the country.
She further called for sincerity on the part of government in finding solution to conflicts in the middle belt of the country. She said: “If government is not sincere and small arms are moving all over the place, and they are not saying who is moving these arms around, then how can we get solution? Is it too much for government to trace these places where these arms are kept and how they are coming in?”