For the first time in so many years, Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka agreed with former president Olusegun Obasanjo, backing his recent position that Nigeria had become more divided under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
Soyinka in a statement titled, “Between ‘Dividers-in-chief’ and Dividers-in-law,” issued on Tuesday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, said though not an Obasanjo fan, he embraced any accurate reading of the Nigerian nation as a contraption teetering on the edge of total collapse.
Obasanjo had last week at a book launch in Abuja said that the country was slowly becoming a failed state and more divided under the Buhari regime.
But the Presidency, in its reaction to the comment, described the former president as a ‘Divider-in-chief.”
According to Soyinka, “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 stated that on Africa Day in May 2019, organised by the United 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, urging the wisdom of heeding the message, even while remaining weary of the messenger.
Soyinka added, “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 has been insolent distractions from garrulous and coarsened functionaries, apologists and sectarian opportunists.
“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?
“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 brutalised citizenry, should learn to bow under the yoke and negotiate, since “only the living” can enjoy the dividends of legal rights?”