Poet and Africa’s first Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has warned that Nigeria is “teetering on the very edge of total collapse.”
In a statement released yesterday from his Autonomous Residence of Ijegba (ARI), Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, Ogun State, titled, ‘Between ‘Dividers-in-chief’ and Dividers-in-law,” the Nobel Laureate noted that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was right to say the country was slowly becoming a failed and divided state.
In its response to Obasanjo’s warning recently, the Presidency had attacked the Egba chief, describing him as the country’s ‘divider-in-chief’.
“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 said.
The dramatist noted: “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.”
He continued: “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?”
“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?”
Soyinka went on to say that if individual voices rankle, then perhaps, it is time to convoke a Nation Survival Conference.
His words: “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.”