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SOYINKA ALIGNS WITH OBASANJO OVER ALLEGED NIGERIA’S DIVISION

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SOYINKA ALIGNS WITH OBASANJO OVER ALLEGED NIGERIA'S DIVISION
First Black Noble Laureate in Literature, Professor Woke Soyinka, on Tuesday aligned himself with former President Olusegun Obasanjo that Nigeria is more divided under President Muhammadu Buhari, warning that the country is “on the very edge of total collapse.”

Obasanjo had last week, accused Buhari of bad governance, saying he has never seen Nigeria in such a bad state, and blamed the current state of the country on poor management of the nation’s diversity.

“Today, Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state; economically our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country.

“And these manifestations are the products of recent mismanagement of diversity and socio-economic development of our country,” the former president said.

In its reaction, the Presidency, in a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, described Obasanjo as Nigeria’s “Divider-in-chief” due to his “attempts to divide the nation while President Muhammadu Buhari continues to promote nation building and the unity of Nigeria.”

But Soyinka, in a statement titled: “Between ‘Dividers-in-Chief’ and Dividers-in-Law,” and personally signed, clarified that he’s notoriously no fan of Obasanjo, having contributed, “as a twice former president and co-architect, with other past leaders, to 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 stressed.

Soyinka, who recalled that he had in May 2019 at the Africa Day orgnaised by the United Bank for Africa, UBA, directed the attention of Buhari administration to warnings by Obasanjo “over the self-destruct turn that the nation had taken, urged the wisdom of heeding the message, even while remaining chary of the messenger”, lamented that the advice was ignored.

He said: “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 conducts 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.”

Soyinka further lamented that the nation is faced “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.”

According to him, President Donald Trump of America is not without a governance pass mark, pointing out that he has been touted for the Nobel Peace prize despite the fact that his country “is brutally divided, and is even unraveling under the Trumpian phenomenon!”

The Nobel Laureate, who admitted that past leaders contributed to the present mess in the country, however, declared that “no uppity flunkey” should attempt to divert attention from current realities, which has made Nigeria “a basket case of abject penury and insecurity, where hordes of trained minds and sturdy limbs roam the streets as beggars, as haphazard vendors of the products of other peoples, other lands!”

Soyinka, who described the planned constitution review by the National Assembly as another “legislative jamboree”, said it is perhaps time to convoke a Nation Survival Conference since individual voices are becoming irritating to the present administration.

“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,” he concluded.

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