Students’ abductions: We’re very close to accepting an unacceptable culture – Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, says urgent steps should be taken to reverse the trend of school abductions in Nigeria.

Soyinka stated this in his reaction to the series of kidnappings of schoolchildren in some northern states.

On February 17, about 317 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State were abducted by bandits.

Their whereabouts are still unknown.

Bandits in the North have in the past seven years abducted over 1000 students in the region.

But Soyinka, who spoke during an award lecture and public presentation of his latest book, ‘Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth’, in Abeokuta, Ogun state, on Saturday, said though his suggestion may be extreme, he cannot think of what else can be done.

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He also noted that states may need to shut down some of their activities in solidarity whenever a child is kidnapped.

Soyinka lamented that the government has repeatedly failed in its responsibility to protect Nigerians.

He said, “The abductions of our children, when will it end; how will it end? I don’t think anyone of us can tell. But it is important that we continue to stress and to remind ourselves that, not only are these abnormal times, but it seems to be, to me anyway, times of the shirking of responsibility in very key areas.

“We cannot permit ourselves — we just cannot — to continue in this fashion. Something drastic, meaningful has to take place, and it has to be collective.

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“This is no longer the responsibility of those at the top (who are) supposed to be in charge of security, in charge of governance; they have clearly failed the populace. They’ve failed us. There is no point in trying to reason it out, to find excuses, to lay blame.

“The important thing is that we are very close to accepting a culture of the unacceptable.

“I think we are reaching the point where, in any state where any child is kidnapped, that state should shut down completely. And other state, in solidarity, should at least shut down some of their activities.

“We shouldn’t wait for an enemy, faceless, airborne, unpredictable enemy like COVID, to make us shut down. In protest and as a statement of the unacceptable, we are shutting ourselves down until this situation is resolved.

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“Sounds extreme, but we don’t know what else one can propose at this particular time. Yes, life must go on, but even those activities will generate and enhance our very existence.”

The Nobel laureate expressed hope that the Jangebe schoolgirls would be rescued and reunited with their families.

But Soyinka lamented that his worry was “the permanence of those scars on our collective psyche.

“We’ll get those children back; I know that. It is a price we pay and the consequence, the permanence of those scars on our collective psyche — that is what worries me.”

Ogun state chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors organised the event in collaboration with Abeokuta Club.

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