Posts Tagged ‘wole soyinka’

Why Wole Soyinka is angry with Buhari over Fulani herdsmen killings

Image result for wole soyinkaAccording to Punch, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Wednesday knocked President Muhammadu Buhari for doing little to stop killings by herdsmen amid the general insecurity in the country.

Obasanjo, who paid a condolence visit to Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State on Wednesday, said the magnitude of security challenge the country was experiencing under Buhari’s watch was on the high side when compared to what happened during his tenure.

However, Soyinka noted that killings by herdsmen had been persisting because the Federal Government under Buhari had been treating killer herdsmen with kid gloves.

Obasanjo challenged the federal and state governments to identify the root cause(s) of insecurity and deal with them so that people would get a reprieve from the incessant violence in the country.

Obasanjo admitted that although there were problems during his time in government, “but not in this magnitude.”

“Even in my time, we had problems but not in this magnitude; we thought we were dealing with them as of that time but the earlier we deal with it, the better. I believe we can find solutions, we must find solutions,” he emphasised.

The former President, however, expressed optimism that solutions could be found to address the challenges and extended his condolences to the bereaved families.

Obasanjo said, “I’m here (in Jos) to express my condolences; what happened is very sad that in this day and age, this type of barbaric act is taking place in our country. I have suggested and I will say it again that we should find out the root cause of this problem and deal with it.

“There must be the remote and immediate cause, if we deal with it; we are not going to be multiplying condolence visits. I believe that any human problem has human solutions, I do hope and plead with the government at the federal level, those of you in states and even local government level, to join hands even at the community level to find the causes and deal with them permanently. We offer our condolences to the bereaved families, all we can say is that God knows the best.”

In his response, Lalong appreciated Obasanjo for the visit, saying that a phone call would have been okay.

He said, “Insecurity is not new to me, we thought we could handle it. When we came in, we quickly put up a team including Berom and Fulani. They came out with a road map to proffer solutions, we adopted the recommendations and have implemented some and was in the process of implementing the remaining ones. We have done our best, we have learnt our lessons. We will be very firm.”

But Soyinka in a statement titled, “On Demand: A language of non-capitulation, non-appeasement,” urged President Buhari to make killer herdsmen pay for their crimes to send a strong warning that his administration would not tolerate forceful land seizure anywhere in Nigeria.

The Nobel laureate said Buhari’s claim that it was unjust for the public to accuse him of being silent on the killer herdsmen’s activities was based on their observation of his “erstwhile language of complacency and accommodativeness in the face of unmerited brutalisation.’’

He added that Buhari had yet to speak in the language that the “murdering herdsmen” understand by exhibiting that forceful seizure of land would not be tolerated in any part of a federation under his governance.

Soyinka said, “That the temporary acquisition of weapons of mass elimination by any bunch of psychopaths and anachronistic feudal mentality will not translate into subjugation of a people and a savaging of their communities.’’

The playwright noted that certain unconscionable events had taken place in the country which could not be ignored, adding that entire communities had been erased from the national landscape, thousands of family units in mourning and survivors scarred and traumatised beyond measure.

He stated that famine loomed in many areas, even in those lodged in acknowledged bread baskets of the nation, adding that “impunity, gleeful and prideful impunity substitutes for decent self-distancing from once unthinkable crimes – let us not even speak of expressions of remorse and human empathy. The instigators, increasingly fingered as directors of human carnage are strutting around, defiant, justifying the unspeakable, daring a nation…’’

Noting that land-grab must be reversed, Soyinka said the restored would still require to be defended and aggressors also served a lasting lesson both from the manifested responsibility of governance, and the resistant will of the people.

“Accounting for crimes is also part of that responsibility, and such criminality must not be seen to be rewarded through idealistic solutions that paper over crimes against humanity. For that is the present actuality. Crimes against our humanity have been committed, and restitution must be made. Nothing less will restore confidence in a government, and reassure the people of its integrity, its commitment to equity in internal relationships and the rightful custodianship of ancient resources,’’ Soyinka said.

The playwright said it was a time of far-reaching, yet immediate decisions, because the nation was dying.

According to him, the time for false pride is over and if the nation lacks the necessary technical resources, then there remains only one blameless, overdue  recourse and it is for the President to ‘Get help.’

Soyinka, who bemoaned the recent attacks on Barkin Ladi council area in Plateau State, noted that five young men were recently sentenced to death by a high court in Zamfara State for allegedly killing a herdsman.

The playwright stated that though he was not condoning murder in any cause or by anyone, it was necessary to insist on transparent and impartial justice.

He said, “The agitating question then is this: since this rampage began, has even one herdsman been brought up before those same courts on a charge of murder, much less sentenced to death at such lightning speed? Shall we wake up and find that they have been hanged? Yet Zamfara has lost hundreds to the homicidal orgy of these same herdsmen. There is a skewed application of justicial proceedings here that baffles many, this writer among them.’’

He revealed that when he visited the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, some weeks ago, he bitterly lamented that security agencies had ordered his communities to surrender even the very machetes of routine use in farming.

Soyinka also said what he termed as ‘the Danjuma thesis’ that helpless Nigerians should defend themselves was neither new nor strange, but simply a restatement of the logicality of human response in the face of aggression.

He told the President that he strongly believed that the recent planned massacre had a numerical target which was the formal annunciation of a new law.

The playwright stated, “From now on, for every missing, maimed, even legally seized cow-perhaps for trespassing and damage-one human being shall die, and the commensurate land shall be forfeited. Make no mistake, that is the message! Berom or Ondo, Tiv or Efik. Egba or Igalla — it makes no difference — this is the language, and if your government does not understand it yet, we, whose field is language, both spoken and symbolic, must decode it for you.’’

Soyinka said he also learnt that a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, whose ordeal of being kidnapped by the “marauders was still fresh in the nation’s mind,” was still under siege by the same forces as neither he nor his workers could routinely attend to the farms.

“An aggressor who sniffs, however faintly, the permissive air of immunity, is near totally beyond recall. Only the stern language of reprimand, manifested in act, will deter him,’’ he stated.

He noted that the language of the leaders of Myetti Allah whom he described as ‘self-vaunting instigators’ in the nation’s herder colonisation was being promoted by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, on behalf of the government.

Soyinka added that if an individual qualified to be the guinea-pig for testing the outrageous hate bill speech contemplated by the nation’s lawmakers, it was the ‘unedifying pronouncements of the Minister of Defence, who “continues to defend the indefensible through his arrogant, provocative dismissals of an agenda of ethnic cleansing, dehumanising the victims anew, and camouflaging the failure of the government by his gratuitous blame-passing.”

According to Soyinka, the language of the Dan-Ali is a language that is now being contradicted by the meaning of ‘land grabbing shall be reversed.’

Trending: Obasanjo is a national nuisance- Abdullahi Adamu

Image result for Abdullahi AdamuIt is really getting hotter due to the negative comment former President Olusegun Obasanjo made about Buhari administration.

It has been revealed that for advising President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek reelection and initiating the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), former President Olusegun Obasanjo came under attack yesterday.

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka dismissed the CNM, saying he would need to have his head examined should he identify with the Obasanjo-inspired group.

Former Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Adamu warned the ex-President that he might soon become a national nuisance, with the way he had refused to allow his predecessors run the country.

Sen. Abdullahi Adamu said Obasanjo cannot dictate to Nigerians who to vote in 2019.

He also described Obasanjo’s CNM as a red herring which cannot influence the outcome of the next election, adding that the former president’s statement was in bad taste.

According to him, Obasanjo ought to have been put on trial for corruption.

Prof. Soyinka spoke in an interview with BBC Yoruba. Adamu spoke at a news conference in Abuja.

Soyinka said: “Me? Obasanjo would establish a group and I will become a member of such group? That means they should get a psychiatrist to examine me.”

Biafra not been defeated – Wole Soyinka

  July 6, 1967, civil war broke out in Nigeria between the country’s military and the forces of Biafra, an independent republic proclaimed by ex-Nigerian military officer Odumegwu Ojukwu on May 30 of that year. The war killed more than 1 million people, many of whom died from starvation. It ended in January 1970 with the reintegration of Biafra into Nigeria. Malnutrition, Red Cross, kwashiorkor, relief flights, genocide, the Uli airstrip used by Biafran planes to elude the Nigerian blockade, mercenaries, the Aburi accord that broke down and led to war—these are some of the memory triggers of the Nigerian civil war of secession that we would like to re-assign. Over a million lives perished—a shameful proportion of them children—mostly through starvation and aerial bombardment. The Nigerian federal government, committed to the doctrine of oneness, had boasted that the conflict would last no longer than three weeks of “police action.” We had learnt much from the politics of other nations, but apparently not from history; the war lasted more than two years. Noble Laureate, Prof Wole Soyika Tormented by the image of a herd of human lemmings rushing to their doom, as a young writer, I made the “treasonable” statement warning that the secessionist state, Biafra, could never be defeated. The simplistic rendition of that conviction in most minds—certainly in the minds of the then-ruling military and its elite support—was that this applied merely to the physical field of combat. Thus it was regarded as a psychological offensive against the federal side, an attempt to demoralize its soldiers while boosting the war spirit of the enemy. That “enemy” had also boasted that no force in black Africa could defeat them. My visit to the Biafran enclave in October 1966 resulted in arrest and detention. During interrogation, I insisted that my statement was meant as a counter to the surge of emotive nationalism and a slavish sanctification of colonial boundaries. Biafra was therefore an expression of that rejection and its replacement with a people’s self-constitutive rights. This specific challenge owed its genesis to memory at its rawest, the memory of ethnic cleansing, whose remedy could not be sought rationally in a campaign of subjugation against an already traumatized community. One question, rhetorical in tone, stuck in my mind for long afterwards. It went thus: “Why should you take it on yourself to make such a statement? Is it because you’re a writer? Who are you to take a contrary stance to the government?” I replied to myself that I had learned to listen. The young man countered that he was on the side of history, and Biafra would be crushed. Not quite, as it turned out. Image result for biafran flagThe Biafrans were indeed defeated on the battlefield, but crushed? Today, most Nigerians know better. Biafra has not been defeated. If anyone was left in any doubt about this, the last work of my late colleague, Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country, has left us re-thinking. New generation writers, born long after that brutal war, have inherited and continue to propagate the Biafran doctrine, an article of faith among the Igbo populace, even among those who pay lip-service to a united nation. Millions remain sworn to uphold it.   Many have died at the hands of the police and the military as succeeding guardians of that legacy troop out to reclaim it in defiant manifestations. Amnesty International estimated that at least 150 pro-Biafra activists have been killed since August 2015. Some of their leaders, including the director of their official mouthpiece, Radio Biafra, remain on trial for alleged subversion and treason. Others have gone underground. The war is not over, only the tactics have changed. One could claim that a project of internal secession is unfolding, one that skirts the peripheries of Nigerian laws, testing what they permit, and daring what they do not. As for the victorious side, analysts continue to cite the lingering consequences of the war of secession among the main causes of the nation’s instability, alongside contemporary factors such as mismanagement of petroleum resources, corruption, visionless leadership, etc. Today, secession simmers openly, and is moving steadily beyond rhetoric. It has already taken on a dangerous complement—ejection. A number of combative youth organizations in the northern part of Nigeria recently called for the expulsion of the Igbo from their lands for daring once again to talk about secession. Mainstream leaders have disowned them, but some support has been voiced by individuals within the same adult cadre, including its intelligentsia. Debate is intense, often acrimonious. Sadly however, one is left with a feeling that most participants in this discourse shy away from a fundamental component of nation being, one that transcends the Biafran will to corporate existence. That principle virtually gasps for air under the wishfully terminal mantra that goes: “The unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.” I have never understood how this is supposed to differ from the dogma of certain religious strains that declare conversion from faith to be an act of apostasy, punishable by death. Nationality, like religion, is only another construct into which one is either born, or acquires by accident or indoctrination. Those who insist on the divine right of nation over a people’s choice seem unaware that they box themselves into the same doctrinaire mould of mere habit, just like religion. In the Nigerian instance, however, the matter is even more troubling. Since the absolutists of nation indivisibility are not ignorant of the histories of other nations and are immersed daily under evidence of the assertive factor of negotiation—be it in the language of arms and violence or the conference table—since they know full well that this process straddles pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial histories, such speakers unconsciously imply that Africans are sub-citizens of the real world and are not entitled to make their own choices, even in this modern age. This smacks of an inferiority complex, if not of a slavish indoctrination, when we additionally consider how today’s Africa came to be, a land mass of constitutive units that were largely determined by alien interests, and thus, hold possibilities of fatal flaws. Also requiring contestation is the implicit equation of supreme sacrifice with supreme entitlement: Those who say, “We have shed our blood for Nigerian unity, and will not stand by and watch it dismantled.” My observation is that in civil warfare—indeed in most kinds of warfare—civilians pay the higher price in lives, possessions and dignity. We need therefore to eliminate the distracting lament of professionals of violence and confront, in its own right, the issue of the collective volition of any human grouping. This leaves us with the other line of approach, the line of frankly subjective or reasoned, pragmatic preferences. It is a positioning that admits, quite simply, I am a creature of habit and prefer things as they are. Or: I like to be a big frog in a small pond, and allied determinants. Such individual and collective preferences for nation validation offer sincere basis for negotiation and resolution. Once conceded, we proceed to invoke the positives of cohabitation that render fragmentation mostly adventurist and potentially destructive. Habit is a great motivator, but it should not be permitted to transform itself into categorical controls that make any existing condition “non-negotiable.” Independence surely means more the severance of ties with an imperial order. It need not go so far as to dictate the dismantling of its bequests but certainly leaves open the option of placing it in question. Propagators of the inflexible “nationalist” line unabashedly attempt to shut down this questioning. They distort even the stance of those whose preference is that the nation remain one, but base their pleading strictly on a pragmatic platform, not as the manifestation of a divine will. The unity of any nation is not only historically subject to negotiation; nation is itself an offspring of negotiation. So what is so exceptional about those who inhabit the Nigerian nation space? Nothing. Except we wish to situate them outside history. Should Biafra stay in, or opt out of Nigeria? That is the latent question. Even after years of turbulent co-tenancy, it seems unreal to conceive of a Nigeria without Biafra. My preference for “in” goes beyond objective assessment of economic, cultural and social advantages for Biafra and the rest of us. Today’s global realities make multi-textured nations far more compelling, not only for outside investors—tourists included—but equally inspiring to the occupants of any nation space. The West African region is marked by an intersection of horizontally and vertically-formed groupings and identities, the result of colonial intervention in the race for territory. The result has proved often dispiriting but just as often stimulating. It has gone on for long, with developmental structures whose dismantling strikes one as being potentially perilous even for the most resilient and endowed of the resultant pieces. Among many analogies, I have heard and read Nigeria described as a ticking time-bomb. Ironically, I see in this very fear a strong argument for remaining intact. An explosion in closed space is deadlier than in a wider arena which stands a chance of diffusing the impact and enabling survival. My preference for remaining one is thus reinforced by that very doomsday prediction, not by any presumptive law of human association. Among the lessons learnt today is that changing the content of geography texts does not obliterate the fundamental attachment to an idea. The Bight of Biafra was renamed during the civil war—to expunge the secessionist consciousness—but that ruse has clearly failed. Orders from a section of Igbo leadership for restoration of the original name is a warning that the Biafran narrative has not ended. When added to the widely spread observance earlier this year of sit-at-home protests to mark Biafra Day on May 30, it would be wise to respond with a fresh understanding to the pulsation of the new Biafran generation. Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian playwright and poet who was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Soyinka asks Buhari to reveal health status, throws wait behind Nnamdi Kanu

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, 74, to reveal the condition of his health after spending nearly two months in Britain on medical leave. Soyinka, who spoke in an interview with AFP at Paris Book Fair weekend, also said indigenous people had a right to assert themselves as a distinct people, even within a political and geographical zone anywhere in the world. “He’s ill, there’s no question, and I wish for heaven’s sake that people in public positions would just be honest. “Illness is part of our existence. Buhari owes it to the nation and I don’t know why he and his advisors are being so coy about it,” Soyinka said. Soyinka, who also noted that US President, Donald Trump, exploited “latent xenophobia” to reach the White House, said a people had a right to agitate for self-autonomy within a geographical expression. He was obviously reacting to the agitation for declaration of independent state of Biafra in the South East of Nigeria. He said: “It’s not the real estate for me that defines a nation or a people, no, it’s a history, a culture. What is a crime  within an artificial entity like Nigeria?  You have states being created which are not viable.” Biafra unsuccessfully fought for independence in a brutal three-year civil war — during which Soyinka was imprisoned for nearly two years over allegations of espionage. Separatist sentiment has grown since the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, was arrested in October 2015, sparking bloody clashes with security forces. The military denied an allegation by Amnesty International in November that security agents killed some 150 Biafra protesters in the past year. Soyinka said: “I cannot accept the notion that people have a right to kill other people because they want to assert their identity… It doesn’t cost anything to recognise it.” Ironically, IPOB threw its support behind Trump’s presidential campaign in the belief he would recognise their independence movement. Soon after Britons voted to leave the European Union in a referendum last July, the group pushed for its own version of “Brexit” from Nigeria that it dubbed “Biafrexit”. He said President Donald Trump, exploited “latent xenophobia” to reach the White House, decrying the erection of walls, especially in people’s minds, anywhere in the world. He said: “He played to a latent xenophobic streak which exists in all societies including mine,” said Soyinka, who renounced his US green card upon Trump’s victory in November over the Republican’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. When I see that kind of conduct… to gain power, I’m completely revolted.” Soyinka, who was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1986, said further: “To me a horrible moment was to watch hundreds of thousands of people actually applauding when (Trump) uttered these sentiments” during the election campaign. “I’m against the erection of walls, especially in people’s minds,” the white-haired professor added. I’ve never made any bones about it, whether it’s happening in Nigeria” or elsewhere.” Soyinka recalled when in 1983, faced with a steep drop in oil prices, the Nigerian government, “to cover up all its problems, decided to expel aliens”. Some two million undocumented immigrants — mainly from nearby Ghana — were given a few weeks to leave the west African country, whose economy is driven by vast oil resources. “There were hordes of refugees in ramshackle lorries going back to their home countries. Ever since, the chequered jute bag used by travellers throughout west Africa has been known as the “Ghana Must Go bag,” Soyinka said.

Cancelled protest: A national shame, embarrassment – Soyinka

 In a an article shared on Shararepoters, Wole Soyinka said that he had written a letter to the Inspector-General of Police, through the Commissioner of Police, Lagos state demanding that the protest be allowed so as to respect and safeguard the constitutional rights of Nigerians.

The media offered the nation a space of relief when it carried the expected news of a mutual accommodation reached by the organizers of the demonstration planned for tomorrow Monday February 6th. The theme in summary: public discontent with the state of the nation and its governance. From the beginning, the organizers had cited quite an extensive list of such areas of concern and demands for urgent attention. To my personal consternation, today’s (Sunday) the same media countered that announcement with a stiff repudiation from the apex of the Police command – the office of the Inspector-General. It is such a huge disappointment, and a disservice to the cause of democracy, tolerance of dissent, and principle of inclusive governance. An unnecessary but important reminder: the battle for the right of lawful assembly of citizens in any cause, conducted peacefully, has been fought and won several times over. It is time that this contest is gracefully conceded. It must be consolidated by its routineness as a choice of action at the front of any people’s democratic participation. This battle has been won legally, constitutionally, and even morally. It enjoys near global acceptance as one of the means of actualizing the protocols of a people’s Fundamental Human Rights. It comes therefore as a deep embarrassment and a national shame that this latest attempt at denial of these protocols rears its head at a time when one of the largest gatherings of humanity is taking place in one of the former totalitarian states of Eastern Europe – Romania. Its size has been assessed as the largest in former Eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin wall. It was triggered by the state attempt to water down the criminal code against corruption and has brought out hundreds of thousands of people into the streets and stadia, day after day, until the much-awaited announcement of the withdrawal of the obnoxious decree. This should resonate within the current Nigerian governance that has made the anti-corruption crusade its mantra. The Police attempt to reverse the hands of the democratic clock is even more appalling at a time when open demonstrations are taking place all over the world against the policies of a recently elected president of the United States, whose democratic formula this nation allegedly serves as Nigeria’s adopted model. Across numerous states of that federated nation, ongoing at this very moment, is the public expression of rejection of a president’s policy that has also pitted the Executive against the judiciary. We have heard of no preventive action by the police, nor arrests of demonstrators. Again and again, efforts, both under military and civilian orders have been made to stifle the rights to freedom of expression by Nigerian governments – Buhari, Babangida, Obasanjo, Abacha, Jonathan….and now again, Buhari? These efforts have been, and will always be resisted. It is a moral issue, as old as settled humanity. It has been settled in other parts of the world. Nigeria cannot be an exception, not as long as her citizens refuse to accept the designation of second, even third-rate citizens. I have sent a message to the Inspector-General of Police, through the Commissioner of Police, Lagos state, urging both to respect and safeguard the constitutional rights of the people. I hope that, even at this eleventh hour, legality and the democratic imperative will prevail. Finally, I shall be less than honest if I do not add the following, mostly directed as a warning to the very polity on whose behalf the democratic war is joined, again and again: Dear Nigerians!!! Due to security concerns and public safety consideration. I hereby announce the cancellation of the planned March. A video posted by Innocent Idibia (@official2baba) on Feb 4, 2017 at 1:59pm PST Minus a minuscule but highly voluble minority, mostly of pitiably retarded polluters of the common zones of public interventions, I do not know of any citizens of civilized community who do not subscribe to the fundamental Right of the Freedom of Expression in any form, as long as it is peaceful, and non-injurious to humanity. I would hate to conclude that the security agencies, or the government they serve, at this stage of national development and recent history, would choose to align themselves with such an unteachable minority.

Wole Soyinka

Video: Wole Soyinka BBOG Campaigners

Soyinka Denies praising Tinubu, Says Tribute Concocted

 

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has denied a report attributed to him extolling the virtues of a former governor of Lagos State and chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, Bola Tinubu.

A recent online report had quoted Mr. Soyinka as admiring the former governor’s maturity and political sacrifice for “saving Nigeria from the danger of falling into one party state”.

The online report also quoted Mr. Soyinka as saying, among other things, that Mr. Tinubu had “nurtured many renowned national successors” and surrendered his ambition for President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

“Political juveniles believed that APC won because of the votes from the North. No!!!, APC’s victory was cemented the day Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu resolved to work together,” the false report said.

According to the concocted report, the Nobel Laureate said, “Tinubu has the option of joining the PDP elites to hold us hostage for another decade but he gave his all to the masses to dethrone the elites.”

But Mr. Soyinka, a professor emeritus, in an e-mail sent to Premium Times on Thursday, refuted the entire report, saying he had never said what was attributed to him.

“It is difficult to prescribe for the sort of mind that finds itself so inadequate that it must foist its opinions on others, and with such confident sense of impunity. Kindly assist me in letting the public know that I am not in anyway connected with the publication that has just been forwarded to me…

 

“I can only yet again recommend my recent “occasional” publication – The Republic of Liars – to the public as a cautionary tract, while the growing population of victims await the routine descent of the full operational wrath of Internet policing on all impudent impersonators,” Mr. Soyinka said.

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