‘Why Proscribe IPOB And Not Miyetti Allah?’ – Soyinka On Farmer-Herder Crisis

 

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has questioned the Federal Government’s handling of the farmer-herder crisis.

Speaking exclusively to Channels Television’s NewsNight, a pre-recorded program which airs every Monday, the literary icon wondered why the government was yet to ban cattle group, Miyetti Allah while it had proscribed the Indigenous People of Biafra, a group seeking the secession of the South-East from Nigeria.

He said Nigeria must always put the country’s history in perspective in order to understand security challenges.

“My temperament does not accept that anyone should chase me out of my God-given earth. So, it’s a temperamental thing as well,” Soyinka said.

“The idea that you can unleash terror on me because you want my little patch of territory or you want my soul, that is you want to subjugate me, you want to turn me into a slave. Well, I would sort that out first.

“And then I’ll make up my mind whether I want to leave. So each outrage, unfortunately, has the opposite effect. Whether the outrage is taking place in Benue, in Kaduna, or is taking place in Owo. Or whether it is taking place right here on the (Ogun state) border – we’ve been subjected also to this lunacy, of the subjugation mentality which some minority people hold. And I find it very difficult to accept to be chased out of my own entitled portion of the earth.

“Many people just either do not know history or do not understand the purpose of history. And then there’s a different group also who are very selective about history; they know how to distort or misuse history.

“Take for instance when the incursion of the Fulani herdsmen began, and the Miyetti Allah. Their spokesman said, I think it was in Borno, we once ruled this place, and we can take back our land anytime we want. I remember that statement; I’ve never forgotten. In the midst of the trauma of these people, somebody comes gloating and then citing selective portions of history. I said this person should be arrested and locked up, who says he wants to repeat his history of conquest – he’s admitting either knowledge, before or after, or support, anyway. Isn’t there anything like hate speech anymore? Why are you proscribing IPOB without proscribing Miyetti Allah?”

In Time Of Crisis: Civilian And Soldier By Wole Soyinka

A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.
A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

 

(Address at the launching of the memorial publication on the late General Ibrahim Attahiru at Ladi Kwale Hall, Abuja on Saturday May 21, 2022)

General Ibrahim Attahiru would be immensely pleased and appreciative if he could become aware of another passing being commemorated today, indeed this very moment. The connection is that the late Prince Tony Uranta, whose week-long remembrance rites have also commenced in Lagos, and Opobo, shared an article of faith with the late General, namely, that the sustainable security of society is crucially dependent on a tripod whose three legs are : the People, the Army and the government. Thus, the weakness or flaws in any one leg leads to the collapse of society. The mandatory implication of this in practical terms is that each must come to the aid of others to compensate for weaknesses, but also to enthrone mutual understanding and collaboration. Tony Uranta actualized this credo by forming a Troops support initiative in 2019 under the name //WECARE. I did not hesitate to serve on the board. Regretfully, owing to my notoriously charged existence, my membership has been more symbolic than active.

Why do I regret this? And why do I readily welcome any opportunity to make up for this deficiency? Well, to begin with, I happen to have been raised in a family with a military history that goes all the way back to World War II. Those who have browsed through my childhood biography will recall the story of my first encounter with a serving member of the then West African Frontier Force, then on leave from, or freshly discharged from the war theatre. My sister and I engaged in unequal combat with him when he visited our home in Ake parsonage, Abeokuta. Our parents were absent on that day, and this stranger in uniform conducted himself in a less than decorous manner. In retrospect, I find it one of the most hilarious episodes of childhood, and I sometimes suspect that it laid the foundation for the total demystification of militarism that is part of my makeup, but also induced lasting empathy with the humanity of the serving man.

That family connection has been sustained. At the inception of the Boko Haram insurgency, a close family member served at the war front where he and his soldiers took the brunt of the earliest onslaughts from that product of religious lunacy. I received first-hand accounts of the challenging technicalities of engaging such an unpredictable foe whose most lethal weaponry was – fanaticism – increasingly augmented by sophisticated hardware that my cousin’s own forces sorely lacked. Such anomalous series of confrontations, accompanied by the irony of his superior’s demands of a rapid and definitive victory over the enemy, are thus not new and remain depressing. Indeed this high-ranking officer did eventually find himself under court-martial on a charge of cowardice in face of the enemy and was duly convicted. He appealed and, backed by corroborated evidence, was vindicated. His dismissal was reversed, but his punitive demotion was not. Such cases are not new or rare. The case files of that feisty lawyer and human rights advocate, Femi Falana, are filled with instances of such miscarriages of justice, sometimes rectified, more often subsumed under the formula of ‘esprit de corps’, a fear of inserting a disruptive note in a system based on unquestioning obedience to orders. Some of us are constantly exposed, far more than generally realized, to the grisly details of these internal contradictions in the disciplined services – and that includes engagements on the international field, such as UN Peacekeeping forces and, closer home, ECOMOG. One’s empathy with the fighting man thus goes beyond even the self-exposure to the ultimate sacrifice at the battle front. Even where we are powerless to ameliorate their condition as the third leg of the uneven, delicately balanced tripod, we identify with their frustrations, their sacrifices, and honour their memory. Along their career, we also develop lasting friendships.

I never did meet Attahiru but, thanks to his widow’s dedication, I believe I do know him. That is not difficult for someone of my temperament, and whose occupation requires probing beneath skin and flesh and even beyond bone into marrow to discern reality from hype. One instinctively re-constitutes the truthful persona from a uniformity of attributes offered from colleagues within his profession, but also from without, those whose paths happen to have intersected with his. It also helps that one of the spurs to my acceptance to be here today was a senior colleague of his who had preceded him hence, the late Ibrahim Alfa, with whom I was especially close. Those of you who have read my memoirs YOU MUST SET FORTH AT DAWN will surely recollect my account of the circumstances that brought Ibrahim and me together and resulted in a remarkable bonding. That friendship did not go unnoticed, since it led to the late dictator Sani Abacha imposing on Ibrahim a special assignment: he was to track down this very speaker – a plane always ready at short notice – to convey overtures of peace talks during a desperate phase of that dictator’s misbegotten venture into power. I no longer recall how much detail of that episode I recounted in YOU MUST SET FORTH AT DAWN but, I do testify that Alfa did catch up with me in London, carried out his diplomatic mission in all seriousness, but with the aplomb and finesse of one endowed with a deep sense of humour. After which, having receiced the very answer he expected, we both went drinking in a secure wine bar in Bayswater. Perhaps the only difference in an imaginary encounter with Attahiru in place of Alfa is that Attahiru would have sipped water or orange juice in place of wine.

But finally, on a far more lethal note, let us contribute the following to this nation’s ongoing navigation of military/civilian cross-currents, one that is characterized by prolonged irregular warfare that tasks the bravest and the best, nullifies even the advantages of tested experience. We can only repeat that incessant cry from the civilian front: do not neglect the potential contribution of that third leg. Stop feeling threatened by the prospect of abandoning the monopoly of the means to defensive violence – in other words – Demystify the uniform and demystify the gun. In this nature of conflict, it is not an army that is at war but the entirety of the nation. This cry has been only been part heeded, and then, only patchily, in certain parts of the country, but we have surely seen the successes scored through that approach to synergy against overwhelming odds. The times are not normal and thus require off-beat, lateral thinking, new constructs outside orthodox boxes of military engagement. Above all, let no one imagine that the ongoing insurgency will forever remain within its present borders. It spreads. It contaminates. It breeds mutations in the least expected places. To anticipate, and prepare, is not even military thinking but the urging of common sense – and that, is universal territory. However, let me explain that this implicit call for total mobilization is not meant to expand the military as a career but to induce its social integration as a calling. The entirety of national life, lifestyle, priorities, urgently demands re-designing to respond, holistically, to the exigencies of current abnormalities. The much-touted, consistently sidelined, willfully misrepresented call for National Restructuring, for instance, as well as proposals for state and community policing, are only alternative and/or partial expressions of this holistic and urgent imperative. We continue to ignore it at the peril of total, messy, irreversible disintegration.

And now, a confession. Buffeted from every sensory direction by the absolute conviction that there does exist a basic, inner code of self-regulation, what we might call the Lowest Common Denominator that governs all who consider themselves members of the human family, it is unavoidable that I devote the rest of this contribution to a series of apologies. The first goes to the convener of this very event, the widow, Madam Fati Attahiru. That apology is deserved by my momentary decision – not once, but twice – to cancel my appearance here today, despite a firm commitment. The explanation for such a negative impulse has to do with my oft-stated view that certain kinds of assault on human sensibility in this nation should attract nothing less than a total shut down in whichever affected state, until that untoward event is resolved. That consideration has a long history. It became galvanized, not surprisingly, by an unprecedented human desecration, an event that inserted the word Chibok into global awareness in the tragic mode, to be followed by Dapchi, then evolve into a haphazard venture, with schools as primary targets. It did not end there. As that new culture in child degradation, commonly referred to as kidnapping, became rampant, I seized whatever occasion I found to reiterate that position, namely that whenever any member of our community goes missing, only to resurface as the voice of an invisible surrogate negotiating his sale like any other market commodity, such a state should shut down totally, leaving only security agencies at large to restore to us our collective dignity.

My spate of apologies, as you must have anticipated by now, extends further back in time. They instigate memory all the way back to my response to the family, clan, village, and state of that innocent man, Akaluka, whose severed head was stuck on a pole behind which his murderers sang, danced, jubilated and extolled the might and peace of Allah against whom, it was alleged, that victim had committed the unpardonable crime of blasphemy, Akaluka was hunted down, dragged out of a police station where he had taken refuge, dehumanized and butchered. Does that scenario ring painfully familiar? My apologies leap over numerous unremarked, unrecorded mimics, simply reduced to statistics in a nation’s subconscious, to plead for acceptance by the family of Madame Oluwatosin, a schoolteacher posted to Bauchi in a routine educational process, as invigilator. She was similarly hunted down like wild quarry, stripped naked, dragged to her messy death which culminated in a funeral pyre of motor tyres, She was accused, like Akaluka, of having disrespected a factory line copy of a book known as the Koran! Again, does that reel from history spin once again on familiar grooves? Just to add piquancy to this feast of the macabre, the torturers, the killers in that preceding instance were also school pupils, and of a model secondary institution. She was also dragged out from sanctuary – the headmaster’s home or office, where she had fled for protection. For those who dispute the truism that history merely repeats itself, the young Deborah is merely a tragic disputant. Tawdry, dismal, inglorious history, never mind the sight of jubilating mobs, fouling the air with chants of victory and parading the spoils of war.

But why do I burden myself with this jeremiad of apologies.? Simply for the reasons I have just stated. It would have been, at its most profound, a dereliction of duty, and our event today is to commemorate that communal imperative that sustains faith in our collective being. No one will deny that we all owe a duty to the living, but some incline to the stance that such duty terminates with the living. Well, in my school of reflection and the testimony of history, that duty extends to death and beyond. That claim is grounded, not in mere sentiment, not in attachment to morbidity or unassuaged grief but in banal self-interest. For instance if, having failed to save Akaluka, having failed to rescue Oluwatosin, setting aside hundreds, possibly thousands of others, we had openly, justly and rigorously ensured justice in the crime that terminated their existences, we would not now be apologizing to the late victim of such religion-inspired barbarity – Ms. Deborah Samuel.

Of course, we are not all to be found within the same terrain of sensibilities – absolutely no! And that has been demonstrated most vividly by the very nature of responses that have been exacted after the nation’s recent exercise in human sacrifice. The nation’s president, traditional rulers – among them the Sultan of Sokoto who also serves as the Amir of Nigerian moslems, women organizations, workers’ unions and professionals from all walks of life, young and old, have raised their voices in accents of apology and condemnation. However, a glorified cleric, no less than the Grand Vizier oi the iconic Mosque of the nation’s capital, Abuja, has inserted a dissenting voice. The young woman, Deborah, he declared, deserved her death. This mullah, allegedly a man of learning, since his name is professorially captioned, says that there is a line, a red line that none of us must cross, no matter who we are, what we think, profess or value. Like the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, this mere mortal has declared himself a Supreme Being with the power of life and death over all the denizens of the world. His call is unambiguous. Professor Ibrahim Maqari has placed his myrmidons of faith on the alert, primed to emulate the example of these death-dealing mutants of fanatic indoctrination.

Permit me a digression, one that is however pertinent to this occasion. I must take you back to a certain indelibly bloodstained day of December 2015. On that day, and not for the first time in the career of a certain religious sect, hundreds of lives were mown down in broad daylight, and within minutes, in the state of Kaduna. The presumed leaders of the alleged provocation were locked up, charged with every kind of criminal conduct, and are still battling, even till today, for their full liberation. Now, what exactly was their crime? They also had drawn a line. That line, they declared, should not be crossed by any. Well, it seemed they had met their match. The Army also had a line, but the Shiite leaders appeared not to know where it was drawn, For that, they paid a deadly forfeit of numerous lives.

So there we are, arbitrary lines crisscrossing, drawn by individuals and constituencies of beliefs and non-beliefs, of power and aspirants of power. Nowhere do the belligerents profess the common constitutional line and the boundaries of legitimate conduct that supposedly define the imperatives of cohabitation and respect for a human commonality known as – life. In the ongoing war in Ukraine, it is being demonstrated that an ancient line remains forever with us and that those who deliberately kill defenceless civilians are regarded as war criminals, to be placed on trial at the first opportunity, A Russian soldier, at this very moment, is undergoing that line of instruction. He has not only pleaded guilty, but actually confronted the widow with the words “I am sorry”. Professor Imam Ibrahim Maqari however insists, with a handful of others including a vocal serving policeman quite recently, that there is no remorse attached to the torture and lynching of a young student on this earth we all share. To anyone who cares to listen, Maqari has implicitly directed his followers to take the law into their own hands in the name of religion, and in a nation beset on all sides by wars of ultra-nationalism and religious fanaticism. That is the message of a supposedly holy man to youths, to us, his message to a nation embroiled in a madness of multiple insurgencies.

I have also drawn my own line. I drew it decades ago, as contained in numerous statements, among them, most pertinently, THE UNAPPEASABLE PRICE OF APPEASEMENT – pertinent because it is within the cesspit of appeasement that this nation is currently mired. I was compelled to draw my own line when an acting governor of Zamfara state assumed the right to pronounce a killing fatwa on a young Nigerian journalist for alleged blasphemy, enjoined his listeners wherever situated in the world to terminate the existence of that young woman. That same ex-governor – for those who have missed the comic sequel – has actually thrown his hat in the ring for the presidency of this nation. A macabre joke that is however beyond any form of amusement. Yet such is the one-sided tolerance culture of the nation, its permissiveness empowers murder through surrogates, instigating killing sprees at will, and sometimes even assume personal supervision of a mission of death and destruction. No matter which, such enemies of life are free to contend for a position of power on a national level, where they can proceed to draw lines against the rest of the world at will and spread the cloak of immunity as reward of unconscionable defiance.

It is time for all group interests to draw their lines, to decide where they intersect with others, where they run parallel, and where they diverge and/or snarl into a chaotic maze. If Professor Grand Imam Maqari can draw a line in blood, the rest of the community of equal rights must proceed to draw their own, but they will do so in less primitive, bloodthirsty mode, in full respect of human dignity.
That apostate of the creed of humanity, Professor Maqari, must be removed from office. It is no longer sufficient for all to declaim that Islam is this and that, that the Sharia is thus and thus, that Prophet Mohammed set this or that example and made this or that humanistic pronouncement. We have gone beyond theocratic rhetoric that merely pays lip service to civilized norms. Let all pietistic denunciations be backed by affirmative action.

The Grand Seer of Abuja mosque should be hounded from office. He should be tried under any existing laws that approximate hate rhetoric, incitement to murder and abuse of office. The nation is confronted with just two propositions: One, that the Sultan of Sokoto is right, a position that is daily reinforced by voices stretching from even Zamfara in the north to the southern voice of the Chief Imam of the Yoruba. The alternative position is that Professor Ibrahim Maqari is the acknowledged Oracle of Islamic Ethics. Between the two, a choice must be made, a choice that is both moral and constitutional. Both the Sultan and Professor Maqafi cannot be right. And that choice does not belong to any esoteric domain. It is not grounded in privileged, hermetic caucuses of religious doctrine and interior revelations. It is not subject to spiritual pietism. It is straightforward: either murder is criminal and abhorrent, or it is a legitimate pastime, to be indulged at whim and by any. What exactly is “blasphemy” in a polity of religious pluralism? Presumably the twenty-four heroic lawyers who have sprung to the defence of the accused killers will also take up that question and enlighten us along the exposition of their briefs. Until then, however, the protocols of association, known as the constitution, remain the sole arbiter. We, on this side of humanity, must draw our defining line, and that line reads simply: do not extend your religious predisposition beyond the realms of constitutional legitimacy. Do not flout the protocols of association. Else, pack your private baggage of homicidal precepts and depart for the purist wilderness of blind Submission.

We have already paid, and are still paying too high a price for the culture of Appeasement and Impunity. Let it end now, in Affirmative Action. That a new generation should also be programmed to aspire to brutish existence below the Lowest Common Denominators of what constitutes “human” ? Surely that is where any self-respecting nation should draw its defining, unbreakable line!

Wole SOYINKA
Abuja, May 21, 2022

Soyinka Visits Igboho In Benin Republic

Professor Wole Soyinka meets with Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka and the leader of Yoruba self-determination group, Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Banji Akintoye.

 

Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, on Sunday met with Yoruba Nation campaigner, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Ighoho.

A statement issued by Soyinka’s media office in Abuja confirmed the visit, with a picture showing Igboho with the Nobel laureate and leader of Yoruba self-determination group, Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Banji Akintoye.

It could however not be ascertained what transpired at the meeting.

This is coming about five weeks after Akintoye announced the release of Ighoho in the Benin Republic.

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After being declared wanted by the Department of State Services (DSS), he was accused of stockpiling arms to destabilise Nigeria. But the separatist leader strongly denied the allegation. In July 2021, Igboho fled his Ibadan residence and escaped to the neighbouring Francophone country.

He was arrested by the Interpol at a Benin airport on July 19, 2021, while boarding a flight to Germany.

After spending about nine months in a detention facility in the Benin Republic, Igboho was released on health grounds. But his lead counsel, Yomi Aliyyu, ruled out the possibility of his client’s return to Nigeria anytime soon.

Insecurity: Nigerians Go Out Unsure Of Returning, Soyinka Laments

Impunity Rides Again – Wole Soyinka
A file photo of Professor Wole Soyinka.

 

Wole Soyinka has lamented the rising level of insecurity in the country, saying many Nigerians go out unsure they would return home safely. He believes the country needs help to tame insecurity. 

The Nobel laureate spoke on the sidelines of a media briefing held in Lagos on Thursday.

“This government needs help, it no longer can cope,” he said.

“It has been going on for years and I don’t know if the citizens of this country should live under such a cloud, such uncertainty: get up in the morning and you don’t know if you would get back at night.”

READ ALSO: [Elections] Nigerian Youths Not Ready To Take Their Destinies In Their Hands – Soyinka

Soyinka, who noted that the problem has been lingering for a while, blamed the judiciary, impunity, and others issues for contributing to the problem.

“There has been laxity; there has been the encouragement of impunity; there has been compromise even within the judicial so that cases are not solved in time and seem to be solved very objectively,” the literary giant explained.

“There has been, of course, the sieving of money intended for the military to combat insurgency whether of the religious or the secular kind known as banditry.

“So, it is a multi-level situation and it did not begin just now. If we don’t keep stressing that, we would never get to the root of the problem.”

He also berated the main political parties in Nigeria – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the wave of defections.

According to him, such development does not augur well for the country’s democracy. Soyinka equally lamented the youths’ inability to take up leadership positions in the political space.

“The youths of this nation don’t seem to want to take their destiny into their own hands,” he said.

While recalling that he was part of the move for youths to present a consensus candidate during the 2019 election, he lamented that such did not materialise.

“Well, they failed to do that and I have a fear that this same thing will happen this year,” the revered poet explained.

Bola Ige: Soyinka Tackles Buhari Over Omisore’s Emergence As APC National Secretary

A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.
A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

 

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka on Saturday questioned President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to back Iyiola Omisore as the new National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress.

Mr Omisore, the Nobel laureate argued, remains a prime suspect in the unsolved murder case of former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige.

In a statement titled ‘Perhaps Closed Files Should Remain Just That – Closed?’, Soyinka noted that there was a subsisting pledge to reopen the files on the spate of unsolved political assassinations by the current administration.

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He wondered how it was possible that the APC, headed by President Buhari, had now selected one of the prime suspects in the Bola Ige case as its National Secretary if it was really serious about prosecuting the unsolved murder.

“To this layman, that investigative revisit is already hamstrung and disrobed of credibility,” Soyinka said. “I think the nation should simply relieve President Buhari of his pledge.”

 

Read Soyinka’s full statement below:

PERHAPS CLOSED FILES SHOULD REMAIN JUST THAT – CLOSED?

Barely three months have passed since the twentieth anniversary of the murder of the late Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, an occasion that I utilized to remind President Mohammed Buhari, of a subsisting election pledge. That pledge was to re-open the files on the spate of unsolved political assassinations that had plagued the nation in recent decades. Prominent among those cases was that of the Minister of Justice, murdered on his way to take up a prestigious position with the United Nations.

Presidential response was swift. Buhari ordered the Inspector-General of Police to re-open those files and resume investigations. The nation has patiently awaited even a hint of Work in Progress. Most, I am certain, expect no less than a revaluation of prior investigative efforts. None, to my knowledge, has attempted to rush the Chief of Police and his team into judgment. We all take solace in the knowledge that the wheels of justice grind slowly, but they arrive. Eventually.

However, an unusual turn of events has raised questions. The ruling party, headed by the same President, has just elected as its National Secretary one of the prime suspects of this most notorious of the nation’s unsolved murders. Not for a moment does one suggest that mere accusation, even trial, presumes Guilt. More than a mere verdict is involved in any trial, however. The process of arriving at that ultimate destination – justice – is integral to the very concept of democracy and equality under the law. That process is one of the structures of civic education.

Unresolved till today were quite a number of untidy, even suspect aspects of investigation, prosecution and trials, aspects which revealed improper cell co-habitation by suspects under custody. That this led necessarily to recantations of earlier depositions is not thereby proven, but the fact remains that such U-turns did take place. One was so brazen that it induced a heart attack that proved fatal to the victim’s wife, another Justice – Mrs. Atinuke Ige. That the prime suspect was privileged in a number of improper ways went beyond mere allegation. Political interventions, including pressure on the judiciary during bail hearings cannot be denied. A judge under such pressure kept a diary with accusations, pages of which he consigned to friends for safe keeping.

With the emergence of the said prime suspect as National Secretary of the Ruling Party, is the Inspector-General of Police equipped to confront political obstacles in a resumption of investigation? Is there any guarantee that the result will see the light of day? How suspect, ab initio, will be the conclusions, given the present political ordering?

I repeat: we are speaking of blatant, undeniable exercise of POLITICAL interventions during investigations and the arraignment of suspects. Prior incumbency of the position of National Secretary of a ruling party has demonstrated the potent interventionist clout that can be wielded from that office. The president has personally received, and thus anointed the new incumbent. Since he remains central to any re-investigation – whatever form or direction it takes – just what value of objective assessment can be placed on the presidential pledge?

To this layman, that investigative revisit is already hamstrung and disrobed of credibility. I think the nation should simply relieve President Buhari of his pledge. I am certain the Inspector-General of Police will be equally relieved and can now turn his mind and energy to the national accustomed posture – Business as Usual.

Wole SOYINKA

Wole Soyinka: Why Religion Is Number One Problem For Nigerians

A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.
A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

 

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has singled out religion as the number one problem hindering Nigerians from being liberated as “rational beings.”

The venerated writer made the comment while speaking recently with a professor of African Literature, Dr. Louisa Egbunike.

“All over the place, I find that religion has been cosseted too much. And liberty has been taken by religionists, which would not be considered to other movements which are considered secularists.

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“If you put on a garb of a religious leader, you can close up the expressway between Lagos and the rest of the nation, simply because you are having a religious celebration. You are just a fraction of the rest of the nation. And you should be accorded no special privileges. So, until that is done, people will always find something extra by belonging and manifesting, even to an extreme extent, your religious adhesions.

“Religion has become the number one problem for Nigerians. Hope is all very well; but hope itself can become putrid. Especially if it is hope for unearned advantages in society. If religion becomes an excuse for flouting the law, then that religion has got to be tackled head-on.

“If for instance a legislator, later a Governor, can claim the right to be a pedophile and indulge in cross-border child trafficking, celebrating child marriage, consummating that event, which is against the law of a nation, and he says he has a right to do it because his religion permits it; then both he and that religion should just be shown the way to the law courts and treated like other phenomena of society.

“If you can use religion to excuse building a church which collapses on the head of humanity, many of them not from Nigeria, several from South Africa. And then you say it was caused by supernatural forces when you know very well that you flouted the conditions for increasing the floors of your building.

“So this is what has become the daily reality of Nigerians. So religion has got to be put in its place in order for people to be liberated as rational beings, beings of volition, who can tackle the problems of existence in a rational, collective way, rather than by insisting that it is only along one route that society can be transformed.

“Take a religion, practice it at home, collect around you anybody you want for collective celebration or religious seasons, nobody quarrels with that. But when you use religion to subvert the rights of others, to the extent of primordial rights, to kill, not just singling, but collectively, to burn down the places of worship of others; then it is about time we treated religion as a crime against humanity; it’s reached that level in societies like Nigeria.”

Soyinka Narrates Ordeal In France, Critcises ‘Special Permission’ Required To Enter Nigeria

 

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka on Thursday decried the immigration processes required to enter Nigeria from Europe.

The literary icon, during a press briefing in Lagos, said he was stopped from boarding a flight at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris because he didn’t have a special document.

“I had my vaccination, I have taken the 72-hour Covid test, I was negative but there was one more, there was a new one called PCR which the Nigerian government had begun to insist on,” he said.

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He was also asked to fill a questionnaire which he said bore little relation to COVID-19.

Soyinka said the tedious process had led to many Nigerians “lying in couches” at the airport, unable to proceed with their journey into Nigeria.

“I don’t believe that I should require – or any Nigerian should require – a special permission to enter his or her own country,” he said.

“What the majority of those questions have to do with Covid, I don’t understand; six Air France staff were working on various computers to generate this permit for which payment are being made.

“Nobody is saying we shouldn’t take the necessary precautions. Other nations do it, but I don’t believe that other nationals are obstructed the way we are.

“It is not a pleasant sight to see your fellow Nigerians lying on couches – they can’t go in, they can’t go out; they are trapped in limbo.

“So, whoever is responsible for these ones should sit and design something easier for humanity to fulfill and also to have backup situations; when technology breaks down, human intelligence should come to the rescue.”

Soyinka Criticises Plans To Review Grazing Routes

 

*Faults NBC’s Query To Channels TV

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka on Friday criticised ongoing plans by the Federal Government to reopen grazing routes across the country.

Soyinka, speaking at a press conference in Lagos, said many experts have identified ranching as the solution to the perennial farmer-herder conflict.

“Virtually the whole nation is screaming (that) we do not want any open cattle grazing. Whether they go by the name of cattle routes or grazing reserves,” Soyinka said.

READ ALSO: Buhari Approves Review Of Grazing Reserves In 25 States

“Round the entire nation, we’ve had opinions surmounting the antiquated mode of cattle rearing.

“Even the all-powerful, untouchable Miyetti Allah, even they have gone on record to say that ranching is what we want.

“And when we think all that debate is settled in rational terms, along comes a new version, rather like Decree 4, of Ruga, with the President insisting on sending his agents out to map out and recover the old grazing reserves when governments and people and experts, agronomists, businesspeople are saying that this is a business and it should be conducted in this particular way.

“So why is this President obsessing about something which is being rejected right, left and centre?”

Soyinka was reacting to President Buhari’s approval, earlier this month, of the recommendations of a committee to review 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country, “to determine the levels of encroachment”.

‘Decree 4’

Soyinka also faulted the recent query the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission issued to Channels Television.

He likened it to Decree 4, an instrument designed to gag the press during the military era.

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka speaks to the press on August 27, 2021. Seun Okinbaloye/Channels Television
Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka speaks to the press on August 27, 2021. Seun Okinbaloye/Channels Television

 

“I think nobody is left in any doubt that both the spirit and the letter of this broadcasting commission decree have indicated clearly that the freedom of expression is being taken and it should be stopped as quickly as possible,” he said.

‘Free Igboho’

Soyinka also described the raid by the Department of State Services on Sunday Igboho’s home as unjust and asked Benin Republic to release him as it had no need to detain him.

According to him, the Yoruba Nation activist had done nothing to warrant the invasion of his home by men of the DSS.

“Igboho peacefully demonstrated,” Soyinka said. “I don’t consider someone calling for secession a criminal act. As long as it is done peacefully, it is acceptable.”

He asked the government of Benin, where Igboho is currently under detention, to release him “and let him go about his business.”

I Don’t Like The Sound Of Yoruba Nation But Nigeria Is A Basket Case – Wole Soyinka

A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.
A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

 

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has said he will prefer a united Nigeria but not in its current shape.

According to the eminent professor, those calling for Yoruba Nation still need to define what it really means, before he can be in a position to speak on it.

He made the remarks during a recent interview with BBC Pidgin.

In the same interview, Soyinka condemned the Federal Government’s raid of the home of Yoruba secessionist, Sunday Igboho.

What Soyinka Actually Said On Yoruba Nation

“I don’t like the sound of a Yoruba Nation anymore than I like the sound of a Tiv nation or an Igbo nation. The reason is this: there are certain pejorative overtones, chauvinistic overtones attached to it. That’s not the issue. When you talk about Yoruba Nation, are we talking about the creation of a nation within Nigeria alone or across colonial borders into Cotonou, Benin Republic, where Yoruba exists, moving on to Togo and even Ivory Coast? So when we talk about Yoruba Nation, I have to know exactly what you mean. Do we even talk about the Yoruba in the Diaspora?

“So it’s a question which is not for me to answer at this particular moment. All I know is this, on a sentimental level, I will prefer us to mend and manage what we have but under certain, rigorous conditions.

“The condition is decentralisation. We have to move away completely from this constitution which was imposed on us by an internal, neo-colonial force called the military. Now, if it had worked, if it were working, my position would have been different.

“My conditions are non-negotiable. We have to get away from the present political arrangement, because they clearly are not working; they are creating internal overlords, they are creating a skewed, lopsided revenue-sharing system. They are robbing Peter to pay Paul.

“Right now, what we have is not a nation but a basket-case, a real basket-case which is disintegrating all over the place, and all the contents are spilling over the basket. And all we are trying to do is to hold it there, grab it there, cover it there, cover that leak, and so on; a nation can’t continue like this. It’s obvious. And some people are more impatient than others.”

FG Should Apologise To Igboho, Stop Pursuing Him As A Criminal – Wole Soyinka

A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.
A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

 

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has asked the Federal Government to apologise to Sunday Igboho after officials of the Department of State Services invaded his home and killed two of his associates.

The DSS invaded Igboho’s house in Ibadan, Oyo State, early on Thursday based on intelligence it said it had received that he was stockpiling arms to cause chaos within the region.

Igboho, who has been declared wanted by the DSS, had recently been calling for a ‘Yoruba Nation’ over what he has described as a ‘Fulani invasion’ of the South-West.

READ ALSO: Sunday Igboho Should Have Joined Amotekun – Ex-DSS Official

In an interview with BBC Pidgin published on Monday, Soyinka said the government’s actions and rationale for invading Igboho’s home “stinks.”

“My advise to the government is that they should stop pursuing Igboho as a criminal, because you have begun by acting in a criminal fashion against him,” he said.

“If and when Igboho comes to trial, I guarantee you the government will be very embarrassed.

“I think they should tell Igboho ‘we made a mistake’, ‘we should not have acted in this way’, ‘you are no longer wanted’, ‘go back to your home, in fact escort him to his home’ and let him resume his normal life.”

According to Soyinka, Igboho’s fight for freedom was preceded by criminal acts of enemies of Nigeria who “appear to be supported by the force of the State.”

While Soyinka noted he doesn’t ‘like the sound of a Yoruba Nation’ anymore than he likes the sound of a Tiv or Igbo nation, he said the country must be restructured through the decentralisation of power.

According to the erudite professor, Nigeria’s current structure was imposed upon the people by the military.

Soyinka Asks FG To Seek Help Over Insecurity, Stop Blame Trade

Impunity Rides Again – Wole Soyinka
A file photo of Professor Wole Soyinka.

 

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has called on the Federal Government to seek help where necessary to regain peace in the country and chart a way forward without using Nigerians as victims.

He made the call in a statement while reacting to the killings across the country by bandits, terrorists, and other gunmen in the country.

Professor Soyinka decried that these gunmen have sacrificed and traumatised the country’s youths beyond their capacity to cope.

According to him, the country is at war and it is time to stop pretending while the government should put in more efforts to stop the killing of youths who are the future.

The Nobel laureate also condemned the practice of blame trade, saying it should be left for later.

Read his full statement below:

The Endless Martyrdom Of Youth

Abubakar Atiku has summed up the nation’s feeling – this most recent savagery against our youth is heart-breaking. More than the heart is broken. However, more than millions of individual hearts still lay claim to bonds in a common humanity.

The already over-stretched sinews of moral restraint have been snapped off the casing of nation being, and nothing is left but the collective wails of impotence. Not for the first time, what many hoped was a Natural Law of Limitations has been contemptuously, defiantly breached.

We need to remind ourselves of hideous precedents. We must remember Chibok. And Dapchi. And numerous antecedents and after, unpublicised, or soon relegated to the sump of collective amnesia.

The wages of impunity never diminish, on the contrary, they distend. One’s greatest fear, with this latest feat of cowardly savagery, is that the nation must brace itself for a Beslan scenario, yet strive to avoid Nigeria become Africa’s Chechnya.

Those who have been proven weak and incapable must learn to swallow their vain pride and seek help. Again, this is no new counselling, but of course, the dog that will get lost no longer heeds the hunter’s whistle.

I envy no one the task ahead, terminating the toxic harvest of past derelictions. Blame laying is for later. Right now is the question of – what needs to be done, and done urgently.

We keep avoiding the inevitable, but that very unthinkable now hammers brutishly on our gates, the blood ransom arrogantly insatiable. This nation is at war, yet we continue to pretend that these are mere birth-pangs of a glorious entity.

They are death throes. Vultures and undertakers hover patiently but with full confidence. The dogs of war stopped merely baying years ago. Again and again, they have sunk their fangs into the jugular of this nation.

The plague called COVID has met its match on the earth of some nation space once known as Nigeria. I grieve with the bereaved, but mourn even more for our youth so routinely sacrificed, burdened with uncertainty, and traumatised beyond youth’s capacity to cope.

To this government, we repeat the public cry:

Seek Help. Stop Improvising with Human Lives. Youth – that is, the future – should not serve as Ritual Offering on the altar of a failing State.

Wole SOYINKA

The Endless Martyrdom Of Youth By Wole Soyinka

A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.
A file photo of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.

 

Abubakar Atiku has summed up the nation’s feeling – this most recent savagery against our youth is heart-breaking. More than the heart is broken. However, more than millions of individual hearts still lay claim to bonds in a common humanity.

The already over-stretched sinews of moral restraint have been snapped off the casing of nation being, and nothing is left but the collective wails of impotence. Not for the first time, what many hoped was a Natural Law of Limitations has been contemptuously, defiantly breached.

We need to remind ourselves of hideous precedents. We must remember Chibok. And Dapchi. And numerous antecedents and after, unpublicised, or soon relegated to the sump of collective amnesia.

The wages of impunity never diminish, on the contrary, they distend. One’s greatest fear, with this latest feat of cowardly savagery, is that the nation must brace itself for a Beslan scenario, yet strive to avoid Nigeria become Africa’s Chechnya.

Those who have been proven weak and incapable must learn to swallow their vain pride and seek help. Again, this is no new counselling, but of course, the dog that will get lost no longer heeds the hunter’s whistle.

I envy no one the task ahead, terminating the toxic harvest of past derelictions. Blame laying is for later. Right now is the question of – what needs to be done, and done urgently.

We keep avoiding the inevitable, but that very unthinkable now hammers brutishly on our gates, the blood ransom arrogantly insatiable. This nation is at war, yet we continue to pretend that these are mere birth-pangs of a glorious entity.

They are death throes. Vultures and undertakers hover patiently but with full confidence. The dogs of war stopped merely baying years ago. Again and again, they have sunk their fangs into the jugular of this nation.

The plague called COVID has met its match on the earth of some nation space once known as Nigeria. I grieve with the bereaved, but mourn even more for our youth so routinely sacrificed, burdened with uncertainty, and traumatised beyond youth’s capacity to cope.

To this government, we repeat the public cry:

Seek Help. Stop Improvising with Human Lives. Youth – that is, the future – should not serve as Ritual Offering on the altar of a failing State.

 

Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian playwright, novelist, poet, and essayist. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first sub-Saharan African to be honoured in that category