Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has thrown his weight behind the position of former President Olusegun Obasanjo that Nigeria has not been more divided than now.
Soyinka said this in a statement on Tuesday, a day after the Presidency described Obasanjo as the “Divider-in-Chief” of Nigeria for criticising President Muhammadu Buhari’s style of administration.
Obasanjo, who spoke last week Thursday at a dialogue attended by the leadership of several socio-political groups, including Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere, criticised the Buhari Administration on several fronts.
Throwing his weight behind Obasanjo, Soyinka 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.”
Soyinka also cited several instances he considered as mis-governance on the path of Buhari to buttress his position.
He wrote: “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 advice the traumatised victims to learn to live peacefully with their violators?
“And what happened to the Police Chief who had defied orders from his Commander-in-Chief to relocate fully to the trouble spot – he came, saw, and bolted, leaving the ‘natives’ to their own devices. Any disciplinary action taken against ‘countryman’?
“Was it a spokesman for some ghost president who chortled in those early, yet controllable stages of now systematised mayhem, gleefully dismissed the mass burial of victims in Benue State as a ‘staged show’ for international entertainment? Did the other half of the presidential megaphone system not follow up – or was it, precede? – with the wisdom that they, the brutalized citizenry, should learn to bow under the yoke and negotiate, since “only the living” can enjoy the dividends of legal rights?”
Soyinka, however, said the fault was not that of Buhari alone.
While saying the constitution was not the sole problem of the country, he told State Governors to wake up to their constitutional rights.
He wrote: “But the fault is not one-sided. Let governors also wake up to their constitutional rights and duties. There are vast areas of those rights that have been trampled upon, usurped for far too long.
“Forget legislative jamborees of constitution reviews – we have had our fill of them – all the files are gathering dust. It is time for Reparations! Dust up those files and head for the courts. Prepare for name-calling, just as long as such names embody – Dividers-in-law!
“Only then shall we uncover who are the real Dividers-in-Chief? If individual voices rankle, then perhaps it is time to convoke a Nation Survival Conference. Let all sections and group interests place their cards on the table and starkly articulate what we all know and endure on a daily basis, and proffer solutions, debate moves towards a collective – rational and sincere — undertaking of nation formation.
“The ongoing governance posture of aggressive evasion spells only one end: collective suicide.”