Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka on Saturday called for the use of “soldiers of fortune”, also known as mercenaries, to tackle the growing insecurity in the country. Soyinka, who appeared on a one-on-one interview session on Arise News Television Network, however, warned government against negotiating with bandits, saying it is impossible to appease evil.
The literary icon cautioned governors of his native South-west to consciously guard against a possible transmutation of the regional security outfit, Amotekun, into a security menace, like the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). He said to curtail the growing threat to security of life and property in the country, “The government should be willing to pay people to come and help us.”
But the foreign military contractors previously engaged by Nigeria during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan to combat insurgents have vowed never to return to Nigeria. They based their decision on the way the President Muhammadu Buhari administration treated them and their Nigerian counterparts.
Apart from paying the soldiers of fortune to come to Nigeria’s aide, Soyinka called for national mobilisation to combat insecurity. He condemned governors, who engaged in negotiations with bandits and criminal elements terrorising the country.
According to him: “You don’t appease evil. We are dealing with evil. There is no other word. We are dealing with the proliferation, the enthronement of evil in the society. And, unfortunately, we have encouraged its manifestation, its proliferation, its entrenchment.
“So, let them get away with the issue of sovereignty. If they have to pay people to come and help us, then call them whatever you want. Please go ahead, because we’ve reached that stage of desperation.
“But I will prefer a general mobilisation in which people are trained, farmers especially, are trained to work with the hoe in one hand and the gun in the other hand, ready to protect their lives, their harvests and the rest of us. We are not unique. History is full of those situations. I will like to see a national mobilisation. Let’s be practical.”
Soyinka warned South-west governors to be wary and watchful against the use of the Ametokun security outfit in terrorising society, just like the disbanded SARS. He called for proper training, particularly on ethical standards, to avoid such conversion.
“I have told them anytime you want us to come and assist, we will come, even if it is just on the ethical session, so that as you are training them to defend us, we are also training their minds so that Amotekun does not become another SARS, very important. We must do everything together,” he said.
There have been renewed calls on the federal government by North-east governors to engage foreign mercenaries to help in routing Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa forest and other enclaves.
During the Jonathan administration, Nigeria had brought in “military-technical advisers” – widely believed to be mercenaries – from South Africa and parts of the former Soviet Union to take on Boko Haram ahead of the 2015 general election. Several regional security, defence and diplomatic sources were aware of the development at the time. There was a tacit confirmation by Jonathan that two companies were providing “trainers and technicians” to help Nigerian forces.