Soyinka, Buhari and Obasanjo

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka on Tuesday said Nigeria, under President Muhammadu Buhari is close to extinction.

He threw his weight behind former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who said Nigeria under Buhari was degenerating fast into a failed State.

Soyinka said while he is no fan of Obasanjo, who is a co-architect with other past leaders of the crumbling edifice that is still generously called Nigeria, he would 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.

“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,” he said.

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Soyinka said on Africa Day, May 2019, organized  by the Union Bank of Africa, he similarly seized an opening to direct the attention of this government to warnings by the Otta farmer over the self-destruct turn that the nation had taken, urged  the wisdom of heeding the message, even while remaining chary of the messenger.

He said that advice appeared to have fallen on deaf ears and that in place of reasoned response and openness to some serious dialogue, what this nation had been obliged to endure had been insolent distractions from garrulous and coarsened functionaires, apologists and sectarian.

According to Soyinka, “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 traumatized 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.

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‘Any disciplinary action taken against ‘countryman’? Was it a spokesman for some ghost president who chortled in those early, yet controllable stages of now systematized 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 added that to reel off any achievements of a government – genuine or fantasized, trivial or monumental – was thus to dodge the issue, to ignore the real core concerns, saying no government, however inept, failed to record some form of achievement – this was why it were elected, and that takes real genius to succeed in spending four years actually doing nothing.

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“What it fails to do, or what it does wrongly, deceitfully or prejudicially  is what concerns the citizenry. 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.

“Donald Trump is not without a governance pass mark here or there – indeed, he has been touted for the Nobel Peace prize in some quarters,  backed, predictably, by the quota Nigerian columnist – yet who dares deny, outside Republican diehard circles – that the great United States of America is brutally divided, and is even unraveling  under the Trumpian phenomenon!”