Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on Thursday warned that Nigeria was on the brink of another civil war and called for concerted actions to prevent the disaster.
Soyinka, who spoke at the 5th Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Colloquium in Lagos, also chided President Goodluck Jonathan for failing to address the deteriorating security situation in the country.
Themed: A national movement for change. A new generation speaks,” the colloquium was held at the MUSON Centre, Lagos.
He said: “Let us face it; this nation is on the brinks. Those who do understand it, I feel very sorry for them because they will one day wake up and find out that we have fallen as a nation. This is not what we envisaged when we struggled for independence. This is not what we envisaged when we struggled to overthrow military dictatorship and restore the rights and dignity of human beings. But whether we like it or not, it has come upon us.”
Chides Jonathan on insecurity
Berating President Jonathan for the worsening waves of insecurity, he said: “My problem with the government, especially the president of this nation is that he does not seem to realise, he has not taken into consideration, into cognizance that by now the president should be addressing the nation, giving details explaining why this nation is at war.”
To avert a second civil war, Soyinka said Nigerians should not see the Boko Haram insurgency as a regional problem, but as a national one.
He said: “Certain things have to be done to ensure that this nation is pulled back from the second round of what is leading towards a civil war. By now, we should be tightening our belt, we should not see what is happening in the North as being confined to the North; it is obvious all along that this is not a northern affair. No! We heard that recently that some cells have been found in Lagos, that is not new, it started years ago.
Boko Haram, a national problem
“Everyone should understand that the problem we are facing right now is not regional it is national and a human problem. It is called Boko Haram. That is the kind of language I believe the leadership of this nation should be imparting on Nigerian citizens.”
The Nobel Laureate, while commending the youths for utilizing the platform to make known their ideas said, “I was delighted when I learnt that the younger generation wanted to use this platform to voice their ideas. I want to thank the younger generations for utilizing whatever platform to reinstate our consciousness by speaking, I expect more, beyond politics, beyond mergers, beyond political parties, beyond partisanship, beyond regionalism and Roll call of personalities
Notable persons at the event included Governors Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Lagos; Ibikunle Amosun, Ogun; Rauf Aregbesola, Osun; Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti; and Adams Oshiomhole, Edo.
There were also Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; National Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Chief Bisi Akande; Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, Senators Remi Tinubu, Chris Ngige, Annie Okonkwo and Buka Abba Ibrahim.
Others were Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola, Chief Tom Ikimi, General Alani Akinrinade (rtd), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Eruwa, Wale Edun, Dele Alake, Femi Falana, and Professor Yemi Osibajo among others.
Graft bane of Nigeria’s development – Sanusi
Meantime, Mallam Sanusi identified corruption as the bane of the development in the country. He said: “Corruption is a big issue in the country today as in other parts of the world but why are they eradicating poverty and Nigeria isn’t? It is not just corruption. It is the failed interventions that are procured with the proceeds of corruption.
Everyone agrees that corruption is bad. It has economic cost if you take a bribe and pay subsidy to someone who hasn’t delivered the required goods.
“In Nigeria, people collect money for contract and they wouldn’t fulfill their own parts of contract and nothing is done about it. This is compounding the state of corruption in the country. What is destroying this country is that people are corrupt and nothing is done about it.
“We need to be asking the civil societies what they are doing to ensure that this act is checked for the development of the country.
“Some parts of Lagos are getting cleaner because of the sewage process in LagosState. These are some of the questions that we should begin to ask our public office holders today. How can someone be governor for four years and he or she fail to provide the needed facilities for his people?”
Mr. Kolawole Oyeneyin argued that the younger generations have been denied leadership roles.
While advocating for a platform that brings younger people together, he berated politicians for relegating the youths to the background. “I am very excited about the future of Nigeria but we must create a platform that brings younger people together. Politicians are only interested in elections but statesmen are interested in the future generations.”
Warning of dire consequences if urgent steps were not taken to involve the youths, he said: “We are sitting on a time bomb on the issue of Boko Haram; nobody knows when it will blow up. Politicians have used and dumped Nigerian youths and have left them in anguish and penury.
“Leadership must never be accidental, it must be deliberate.”
Speaking on ‘Poverty and the Nigerian State’, Mr. Femi Edun noted that there was extreme poverty in the country just as he said urgent steps must be taken to improve the lives of Nigerians.
Mr. Myani Bukar maintained that affirmative action must be taken to address discrimination in the country.
Bukar said to actualise the proposed merger of some opposition parties, “we have to think differently. We need to be clear as to what our visions are so as not to be distracted.”
Hip-hop sensation, Mr. Bankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W, advocated for youth involvement. “Change is possible if young people decide that enough is enough, the problem with Nigeria is failed leadership and citizenship apathy. We need to be involved; we must all speak up and effect the needed change.”
In her remarks, Mrs. Hafsat Abiola-Costello said it is imperative for government at all levels to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Grant Boko Haram amnesty—Tinubu
Speaking at the event, Tinubu renewed calls for the president to grant amnesty to the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
He said the leader required by the country is someone who has the desire to bring change to the nation.
“I haven’t seen any educational certificate higher than Ph.D. But despite having someone with such education status, the situation is yet to change.
“The present president of the country is very young but he has been appointing 73 year-old man to manage the country’s port.”
He noted that the developments experienced in all ACN states was not based on age but rather on the desire by those who were elected by the citizens to rule the states.
Tinubu said: “We must do it with justice, those with human blood on their hands, must be brought to justice, but we cannot throw away the question of amnesty. It is a carrot and stick approach. We have done it before. Why can’t we do it again?. Surrender your gun and we give you money for it. Why can’t we do it?”