Elder statesman and playwright, Prof Wole Soyinka, has said the country is more divided as never before under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Soyinka, in a statement signed from his Autonomous Residence of Ijegba, Idi-Aba Estate, Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Tuesday titled, “Between ‘Dividers-in-chief’ and Dividers-in-law,” said though not a fan of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, he embraced the responsibility of calling attention to any accurate reading of the country.
Obasanjo last week said the country was slowly becoming a failed state and more divided under the Buhari regime. But the Presidency reacted to the comment by describing the ex-president as a ‘Divider-in-chief.”
But on Tuesday, Soyinka stated, said, “I am notoriously no fan of Olusegun Obasanjo, General, twice former president and co-architect with other past leaders of the crumbling edifice that is still generously called Nigeria. I have no reasons to change my stance on his record. Nonetheless, I embrace the responsibility of calling attention to any accurate reading of this nation from whatever source, as a contraption teetering on the very edge of total collapse. We are close to extinction as a viable comity of peoples, supposedly bound together under an equitable set of protocols of co-habitation, capable of producing its own means of existence, and devoid of a culture of sectarian privilege and will to dominate.”
The Nobel laureate stated that in May he called the attention of the current government to the “self-destruct” turn that the nation had taken.
He said, “That advice appears to have fallen on deaf ears. In place of reasoned response and openness to some serious dialogue, what this nation has been obliged to endure have been insolent distractions from garrulous and coarsened functionaries, apologists and sectarian opportunists.
Backing Obasanjo, the playwright said, “We are close to extinction as a viable comity of peoples, supposedly bound together under an equitable set of protocols of co-habitation, capable of producing its own means of existence, and devoid of a culture of sectarian privilege and will to dominate .
“Nigeria is a suppurating slaughter slab, and it boggles the mind that supposedly wise and lettered men, sheltering under any religious mandate, would go into a solemn huddle to ‘legitimately’ augment the toll of mindless killings that now plague the land.
“The nation is divided as never before, and this ripping division has taken place under the policies and conduct of none other than President Buhari – does that claim belong in the realms of speculation?
“Does anyone deny that it was this President who went to sleep while communities were consistently ravaged by cattle marauders, were raped and displaced in their thousands and turned into beggars all over the landscape? Was it a different President who, on being finally persuaded to visit a scene of carnage, had nothing more authoritative to offer than to advise the traumatised victims to learn to live peacefully with their violators?
“Across this nation, there is profound distrust, indeed abandonment of hope in this government as one that is genuinely committed to the survival of the nation as one, or indeed understands the minimal requirements for positioning it as a modern, functional space of productive occupancy.
“Are pensioners still considered human, deserving the rewards of labour without further labour? Many collapse from that extended labour of recovering routine entitlements.
“Even routine access to that basic human requirement – food – is now under question, as farmers are chased off their farms in large numbers. Instead of timely action – urged stridently by beleaguered governors and of course by ‘professional agitators’ – appeasement of the violent food saboteurs was the preferred route to food security – operating under fancy names like RUGA.”
The playwright wondered how graduates and young school leavers would thus be persuaded to try farming instead of flooding urban centres looking for non-existent white-collar positions?
He noted, “To get killed and dismembered? And what is the score within those much-coveted urban precincts? Lop-sided appointments to crucial positions in civil service and parastatals! Consider the prime economic cash cow–petroleum – exposed a few months ago as a reeking cesspit of nepotism. Who is the Minister of Petroleum under whose watch such an unprecedented contempt for geographical parity – uncontroverted till today – became entrenched? That happens to be none other than the nation’s President – and he did make a show of astonishment at the gross disparities, promised to subject the anomaly to immediate enquiry. May one ask what action has been taken to rectify that presumably “nation-unifying” compilation? ,,
“It all casts a long, unedifying shadow backwards to those days of agitation by Tai Solarin and the mercuric engineer, Awojobi when the same Buhari took forceful charge of that ministry, promised to get to the root of the flying charges– anyone still recall the saga of the missing millions? He made a beeline for the home of a prominent political leader and carted away loads of files in his illegal possession. In vain the nation awaited enlightenment – Nothing!”
Saying inequity reigned and solutions trivialised, Soyinka stated that several times voices were raised to urge the dismantling of a crude, militarised centralist contraption– repeatedly exposed in illegalities– and substitute with a more efficient governance system, decentralised, providing broader access to opportunities.
The elder statesman noted, “All such efforts are turned into opportunities for legislative junketing and budget padding. Legislators watch with indifference in this day of human advance, as individuals are sentenced to hang for expressing their views on the relative apprehension of religious avatars, not a squeak emerge from such lawgivers.”
Explaining plots against the country by some powerful Nigerians, Soyinka cited revelations made by a former Ambassador, Bola Dada, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH a few years ago.
He stated, “Archives remain ever obliging. They avail us vivid material to decide whether or not a sinister script is being acted out today with copious libations from Nigerian blood. I think, in public interest, The PUNCH should re-run that interview, most especially in view of recent claims by a columnist in The Nation – Femi Abbas September 4 — regarding how and by whom Nigeria was corralled into the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries).”
In his interview with Saturday PUNCH on April 12, 2014, Dada said he was chased out of Sudan when he raised the alarm about Boko Haram.
He stated, “There was a covenant between Sudan and Libya to destabilise Nigeria to promote Islamisation. So, what is happening to President Goodluck Jonathan now may have something to do with that pact. They call it Afikaya.”|
Also on Tuesday, the Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Toby Okechukwu, advised the Presiden to take the advice Obasanjo and not attack the ex-President.
Okechukwu, in a statement issued on Tuesday, urged the Presidency to take the issues recently raised by Obasanjo seriously, saying it was wrong and unwise to discard both the message and messenger.
Also, the President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, in an interview with The PUNCH, supported Soyinka and Obasanjo.
He said, “The statement by the elder statesmen is correct. The President needs to heed to the wise counsel of General Obasanjo in order to save the country from total collapse as anarchy looms. God save Nigeria.”
On his part, the spokesman for the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said, “The great teacher (Soyinka) has come to give a lecture on nation building. It is only doubtful if these pupils are ready or teachable.
“We will not be surprised if they resort to abusing the great professor the way Garba Shehu did some weeks back that he is just a playwright.”
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said nobody should insult Obasanjo for saying the truth.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Chief Chuks Ibegbu, who spoke to one of our correspondents stated, “Nobody should insult him for saying the facts as they are.” – Punch.