Soyinka Calls For Imprisonment Of Corrupt Politicians

Wole-Soyinka-professorLiterary Icon and Nobel laureate in  Literature, Prof. Wole Soyinka has expressed his support  for imprisonment of corrupt politicians to serve as deterrent to others.

Prof. Soyinka made this call during an interview with journalists after the presentation of certificates and trophies to winners of the 7th edition of Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange Programme, held in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Prof. Soyinka while expressing his opinion on the theme of the programme, Corruption a battle for the arts’; noted that the war against corruption should be more inclusive and that all other professionals should be part of the battle.

While admonishing the 82 students that participated in the programme, the Ogun State governor,  Ibikunle Amosun urged the students to emulate the good virtues of the literary icon and become good citizens of the country

President Jonathan Congratulates Soyinka On His 80th Birthday

jonathan-goodluck-Nigeria-PresidentPresident Goodluck Jonathan has congratulated Nigeria’s  famous literary giant and Nobel Laureate, Prof.  Wole Soyinka as he attains the age of 80.

In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, on Saturday, in Abuja to applauded Soyinka’s glorious life of service to Nigeria and the diaspora.

President Jonathan felicitated with the globally-renowned academic, dramatist, poet and literary icon as he celebrates the attainment of a significant milestone in his life.

Jonathan further applauded his life-long dedication and indefatigable commitment in the use of his acclaimed genius and talent, not only in the service of arts but for the promotion and good governance in the country and diaspora.

The president also assured Prof. Soyinka that he will always be celebrated and honoured by his proud countrymen, women and children for his famed literary works and for his exemplary career which has inspired others to take up a life of selfless service to humanity.

He wished Prof. Soyinka a happy 80th birthday celebration and prayed that God almighty will grant him many more years of good health and strength to continue with his devotion to make the world a better place for his people and all who live in it.



Ethnic Stakeholders Say National Conference Would Be A Waste Without Referendum

Representatives of Nigeria’s major ethnic groups have commended the Federal Government for the planned National Conference, but not without some clamouring that resolutions at the conference be subjected to a referendum by the people and not the National Assembly.

Politics Today on Channels Television played host to the President of Igbo socio-political group, Aka-Ikenga, Mr, Goddy Uwazuruike; the President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima and the Spokesperson for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin.

Odumakin commended the Federal Government for the structure of the modalities for the conference as he referred to it as “a big improvement from the initial recommendation” by the presidential committee.

He noted that if the government had followed the recommendations of the Presidential Committee, the essence of the National Conference would have been lost. He said that the panel’s recommendation was faulty. “Asking that representation at the conference should be by Federal Constituencies is a blunder, as the make-up of these Federal Constituencies is one of the reasons why the country needs the conference in the first place,” he stressed.

Mr. Uwazuruike, while agreeing with Odumakin, also said that the basis for the conference was the dissatisfaction of various people who are seeking to know where they stand in the state of affairs insisting that the beauty of the National Conference, as planned by the Government, was that what the Executive and Legislature  believed would be of no impact but what the people want.

No Go Area

Mr Shettima, while also commending the Federal Government for accepting that there was need for Nigerians to discuss, also supported the clause that the indivisibility of Nigeria would not be discussed; acknowledging that the Government had a right to determine how they want the conference to go.

Although, Odumakin also agreed that it was a good idea that the Federal Government wants to protect the unity of Nigeria, he however frowned at the statement credited to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, that the unity of Nigeria was not negotiable.

He said: “That is not right.” He argued that Nigeria had been together for so long and that the people must be able to negotiate the terms of their unity. According to him, “Discussing our differences will not break us. We should not be afraid”.

Odumakin warned that what could lead to the breakup was “when we do not discuss the terms of our unity.” He added: “Pretending that we are united is like postponing the evil day.”

Mr Uwazuruike, who is also a lawyer, provided the legal framework for the decision of the Presidency. He explained that according to the Nigerian Constitution, “a President swears an oath to not initiate the divisibility of Nigeria, and President Jonathan is bound by his oath of office to ensure the continued unity of the country.

“Initiating a gathering to discuss the matter, therefore, will be going against the Nigerian Constitution and his oath of office.

“Also, it will mean asking for a revolution and when that happens, it is his office and the parliament that will first have to go,” the lawyer said.

He submitted that Mr. President was on the right track and that if anyone wanted a revolution, it would not be the President that should instigate it.

Shettima called on Nigerians to take advantage of the whole conference even if it was not the solution to all of Nigerians’ problems, as he was sure that the country would move forward from where it was.

The Referendum

There are questions about the criteria for the selection of representatives at the National Conference expected to have 492 representatives from different parts of the country.

Mr Shettima said that the makeup of the representation cannot be perfect since the whole idea was for it to be all inclusive, adding that the inclusion of the civil society makes it good enough.

He however noted that asides the issues of composition, there were more important problems that needed to be fixed one of which was the legitimacy of the 1999 Constitution. He said that the National Conference must be seen as an exercise towards building a brand new constitution for Nigeria.

Barrister Uwazuruike also added that the 1999 constitution truly tells a lie and offered an explanation on how the resolution of the constitution can be changed

The SGF, Anyim Pius Anyim, in an earlier interview with Channels Television, had said that only the National Assembly had the powers to amend the Constitution and there was nothing that could be done about it.

Mr Odumakin further berated Mr Anyim as being ignorant. He stressed that the referendum is the key thing in the forthcoming conference, going down history lane to validate his argument.

Shettima also stressed that “as long as Nigeria retains the Constitution that gives all the power to President, with everything centralized in Abuja, things will not be better in Nigeria”. He said that all resolution at the conference must be subjected to a referendum.

“We are not asking for an amendment of the constitution, what we need is a totally new constitution,”  he stressed.

In further response to Mr Anyim’s interview, Mr Odumakin assured that there could not be chaos, as Nigerians had been together for too long that there was need to discuss. He said: “We cannot put our faith in the hands of those who created that same 1999 constitution for us after all they have done to us since.

“They have been serving themselves and now it is time for them to do what we want.” He said, adding that sovereignty lies in the people and not the National Assembly.

Uwazuruike however warned that the same 1999 Constitution was the basis for convening the conference and that it gave the details of what should be discussed and there was no referendum in its recommendation.

He added that indeed, sovereignty was in the people as earlier argued by Odumakin, but stressed that it was to be executed on their behalf through the National Assembly. He concluded with an advice to the National Assembly to pay attention to discussions at the conference and use them according to the will of the people.

Mr Odumakin said: “What is worth doing is worth doing well.”He urged Nigerians to go into the conference with the realization that “it is not to constitute us.”

Shettima warned that if the National Conference would not be subjected to a referendum, then it would have been a waste of tax payers’ money.

Soyinka, Mimiko, Fayemi Extol Virtues Of Late Literary Icon, D.O Fagunwa

A 3-Day International Conference has commenced in Akure, Ondo State Capital in memory of one of the pioneers of African literature and fiction in indigenous languages Chief Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwa. 

The conference which has the theme:”D.O Fagunwa: 50 Years On” was organised by Ondo State Government in conjunction with The Centre For Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), Lagos;  the D.O Fagunwa Foundation and the Fagunwa Study Group.

The opening ceremony of the conference chaired by the Orangun of Oke-Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin attracted many dignitaries from within and outside Nigeria including late Fagunwa’s family members, academicians, politicians, literary icons and top government officials.

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who was the keynote speaker, delivered a lecture on Fagunwa’s Forest Tapestry: Heroes, Heroics, Morals and Moralists in which he x-rayed the characters in some of Fagunwa’s books and linked them to the ills in our society today.

Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and his Ekiti State counterpart, Dr. Kayode Fayemi in their addresses commended the virtues of Late Fagunwa.

Mimiko said there was the need to encourage the use of mother tongue and the development of the culture of the people.

According to him, the state government had recommended the use of the books of Fagunwa in secondary schools across the state, saying the books were capable of preserving Yoruba language and culture.

He noted that many of Nigerian authors had contributed to the socio-economic development of the country and should, therefore, be celebrated.

Also speaking, Fayemi said the contributions and impact of Fagunwa’s poetry prowess could not be over-emphasised.

He said efforts should be made to ensure that indigenous languages were not allowed to die in the country.

Born in 1903 in Oke-Igbo, Ondo State; Late Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwa was one of the pioneer authors in indigenous African languages.

He wrote his first novel, “Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmole” in 1938; and later authored 4 other fascinating novels all in Yoruba Language. He died in 1963, at the age of 60.

Some of his books have been interpreted into English language.

Govt Should Use ‘Boko Halal’ To Address Boko Haram – Soyinka

Nobel laureate; Prof Wole Soyinka has advised the Federal Government and government at all levels to use quality education to address the nation’s growing illiteracy, noting that it is lack of education that breeds sinister groups like the Boko Haram.

Prof Soyinka made this remark on Monday, while speaking with journalists in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, where he noted that Halal is the opposite of Haram.

He commended the state government for winning and hosting the World Book Capital city next year, stressing that both the state and the country will benefit from the festival.

Prof Soyinka suggested that the slogan ‘Nigeria is Boko Halal’ should be adopted as the campaign slogan for the World Book Capital.

“When they (Boko Haram insurgents) say Boko Haram, we say Boko Halal” he said.

He explained that Halal; an Islamic term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, means “virtue, goodness and peace.”

Islamic fundamentalists that seek the imposition of Sharia law across Nigeria are known as Boko Haram which means ‘western education is sinful.’

Noting that he was in the state to pledge support to the festival, Soyinka declared that the ‘World Book Capital’ will spark literary activities and attract intellectual tourism in the state.

“Certain infrastructures will be left behind…there will be in transportation, in hotel facilities, because the whole world is coming to your door steps…..even catering businesses will boom including lots of literary activities- publishing, book sales and building of libraries.”

With such activities the Professor of literature opined that terrorism and violence can be curbed through educational activities, as he claimed that “a country with high illiteracy levels breeds sinister groups like the Boko Haram.”

Manipulating Judiciary

Asked of his view on the political crisis in Rivers State, he expressed his worries about the crisis, quipping that “as a citizen of the country he has the right to comment hence I am very worried over happenings in the state.”

I’m very much concerned about the imbroglio which the state appears to be at the moment. My main comment is for heaven’s sake whatever happens internally between parties and so on, please don’t debase or manipulate the judiciary.”

“That is my appeal to the governance at all levels” he affirmed.

He also spoke on the grounding of aircraft of the Rivers State Governor by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), saying the action smacks of ‘pettiness’ which is not expected in a democracy like Nigeria.

Soyinka Bags Awolowo’s Leadership Prize

Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka has been unveiled as the recipient of the maiden award of the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership.

The Chairman of the selection committee, Emeka Anyaoku made the announcement on Wednesday at a press conference held in Lagos.

The Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership which would be awarded bi-annually is an initiative of the Obafemi Awolowo foundation set up in 1992 to serve as the custodian of Chief Awolowo’s intellectual legacy.

The Obafemi Awolowo Foundation had noted in one of its special dialogues held in July 2011, that the dearth of good leadership is one of the greatest challenges facing Nigeria and many other African countries.

This necessitated the institution of the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership to encourage, recognise and celebrate excellence in Nigerian Leadership.

The selection committee is chaired by Chief Anyaoku and some other distinguished Nigerians including Prof Akin Mabogunje, Dr Olaniwun Ajayi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Olorogun Felix Ibru and Prof Funmi Soetan.

According to Chief Anyaoku, after a rigorous process of nomination and screening of individuals who have made outstanding contributions to national and international life that is characteristic of Chief Awolowo’s leadership style, the maiden winner of the award is Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature, Prof Wole Soyinka.

The award presentation ceremony is scheduled to hold in March 2013 to coincide with Chief Awolowo’s birth anniversary.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo was one of Nigeria’s founding fathers.

He was the first premier of Nigeria’s Western Region and later leader of opposition in the federal parliament.

He has been described by some Nigerian leaders as the best President Nigerians never had in recognition of his role as a leader in the country’s politics. He passed on in May, 1987.

Wole Soyinka is 78 today

Play writer, Nobel Laureate and Poet , Prof. Wole Soyinka turns 78 today.

Wole Soyinka was born on 13 July 1934 at Abeokuta, near Ibadan in western Nigeria.

After preparatory university studies in 1954 at Government College in Ibadan, he continued at the University of Leeds, where later in 1973 he took his doctorate.

During the six years spent in England, he was a dramaturgist at the Royal Court Theatre in London 1958-1959. In 1960, he was awarded a Rockefeller bursary and returned to Nigeria to study African drama.

During the civil war in Nigeria, Soyinka appealed in an article for cease-fire, for this he was arrested in 1967, accused of conspiring with the Biafra rebels, and was held as a political prisoner for 22 months until 1969. Soyinka has published about 20 works: drama, novels and poetry. He writes in English and his literary language is marked by great scope and richness of words.

Soyinka has been influenced by, among others, the Irish writer, J.M. Synge, but links up with the traditional popular African Theatre with its combination of dance, music, and action.

He bases his writing on the mythology of his own tribe-the Yoruba-with Ogun, the god of iron and war, at the center. He wrote his first plays during his time in London.

Soyinka’s poems, which show a close connection to his plays, are collected in Idanre, and Other Poems (1967), Poems from Prison (1969), A Shuttle in the Crypt (1972) the long poem Ogun Abibiman (1976) and Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems (1988).

National Assembly asks court to trash Soyinka’s suit over constitution

The National Assembly has asked the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to strike out a suit filed by Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka and Fred Agbeyegbe  which seeks to declare that the amended 1999 Constitution is illegal because it is not an act of the people.

In the suit, both men want the court to declare that the amended 1999 Constitution is not an act of the people.

In an objection filed by the clerk of the National Assembly on Thursday, the lawmakers want the suit dismissed on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction.

Counsel representing the plaintiffs however insisted that the court has the jurisdiction.

The plaintiffs had instituted the suit in 2009 seeking the production of a constitution that is a true reflection of the people’s opinion, one that emanates from a proper referendum.

Of the five respondents in the suit, only the clerk of the National Assembly was represented by a counsel during the court hearing. The other defendants in the suit are the President, the Attorney General of the federation, the Senate president and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Professor Soyinka in the last hearing had sought the permission of the judge to stay away from the court proceedings, citing the target to his life by the dreaded Boko Haram sect which has declared him wanted.

Presiding Justice John Tsoho adjourned further hearing on the issue of jurisdiction till the 6th of June.

He has also deleted the name of the late Biafra warlord, Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu from the list of plaintiffs following his death.