State of the Nation: Nigeria between ‘divider-in-chief’ and ‘divider-in-law’ — SOYINKA

There is nothing wrong in people saying ‘we want our own autonomous unit’ – SoyinkaProfessor Wole Soyinka

…Says Nigeria more divided now than ever before

…Backs call for ‘National Survival Conference’

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday, expressed support for former president Olusegun Obasanjo, who said, last week, that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government was drifting the nation towards a failed state.

The Presidency, however, in its reaction, described Obasanjo as a ‘divider-in-chief’.

But Soyinka, in his latest statement, titled: ‘Between Divider-in-Law and Divider-in-Chief’, said the country was actually close to extinction, considering the present situation it has found itself.

The statement read:  “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.

‘’On Africa Day, May 2019, organized by the Union Bank of Africa, I similarly seized an opening to direct the attention of this government to warnings by the Otta farmer over the self-destruct turn that the nation had taken, urged the wisdom of heeding the message, even while remaining chary of the messenger.

“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?

“Was it a different president who, on being finally persuaded to visit a scene of carnage, had nothing more authoritative to offer than to advise the traumatized victims to learn to live peacefully with their violators?

‘’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 systematized 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 brutalized citizenry, should learn to bow under the yoke and negotiate, since only the living can enjoy the dividends of legal rights.?”

“Across this nation, there is 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.

‘’Donald Trump is not without a governance pass mark here or there – indeed, he has been touted for the Nobel Peace prize in some quarters, backed, predictably, by the quota Nigerian columnist – yet who dares deny, outside Republican diehard circles – that the great United States of American is brutally divided, and is even unraveling under the Trumpian phenomenon!”

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Wondering if pensioners were still considered human, deserving the rewards of labour without further labour, Soyinka said:   “Even routine access to that basic human requirement – food – is now under question, as farmers are chased off their farms in large numbers.

‘’Instead of timely action – urged stridently by beleaguered governors and, of course, by ‘professional agitators’ – appeasement of the violent food saboteurs was the preferred route to food security – operating under fancy names like RUGA.

“So how do you persuade graduates and young school leavers to try their hands at farming instead of flooding urban centres looking for non-existent, white-collar positions?   To get killed and dismembered?

‘’What is the score within those much coveted urban precincts? Lopsided appointments to crucial positions in civil service and parastatals! Consider the prime economic cash cow – petroleum – exposed a few months ago as a reeking cesspit of nepotism.

‘’Who is the Minister of Petroleum under whose watch such an unprecedented contempt for geographical parity – uncontroverted till today – became entrenched? That happens to be none other than the nation’s President – and he did make a show of astonishment at the gross disparities, promised to subject the anomaly to immediate enquiry.

“The days of agitation by Tai Solarin and the mercuric engineer, Awojobi, when the same Buhari took forceful charge of that ministry, promised to get to the root of the flying charges – anyone still recall the saga of the missing millions?

‘’He made a beeline for the home of a prominent political leader and carted away loads of files in his illegal possession. In vain, the nation awaited enlightenment – Nothing!”

Mailafia/National Security

‘’Presumably, the ongoing ‘national security’ persecution of Obadiah Mailafia is s sign of national unity? I invite our marionettes to read deeply into history. Oh, excuse me, history has been banned from learning structures, so look not for history books! ‘’However, straightforward, first-hand testimonies abound, exposing structural flaws, deceits and conspiracies against this presumptive national edifice. They are perpetrated by highly placed servants of the state, some of whom have since risen to even higher national positions.

‘’When you abolish History in institutions, you open the gates wide for rampaging revisionism, while the same gates are shut against a grasp, however tenuous, of why, for instance, a Mailafia becomes a target of serial interrogations and harassment, rather than those boldly named in his revelations.

‘’Is it he who constitutes a danger to the nation, or the indicted fanatics of unlimited impunity and callous disregard for humanity? Why the ostentatious pretence of investigative zeal? The man has told you where to look. Well, look in that direction and report back to us!

‘’In the meantime, however, ensure that he meets with no accident!  Still on security: any tear that is shed for the arch-bandit and multiple murderer Akwaza, known as Gana, is an obscenity.

‘’However, tears of trepidation are falling fast and furious over the conduct of an army that eliminates a captive in cold blood, side-tracking the rationality of professional investigations and legitimate pursuit of felons and other enemies of society.

‘’The issue here is not one of the appropriateness of a policy of Amnesty – that constitutes a larger debate in its place. The issue here – and a critical one – is that a wanted man, on his way to surrender, has been killed in cold blood.

‘’I read yesterday that the Army has followed this up with a demand for the bounty earlier placed by Benue State governor on the head of the WANTED man. However, all reports so far indicate that he was on his way to surrender?

‘’So, is this bounty demand a joke? An end then to such gallows humour! And certainly not now, not while the nation is freshly reeling from the latest horror of the targeting of unarmed road safety officials, gunned down in cold blood in their commuter bus, and the mass kidnapping of survivors.

‘’Shall we presume that the surviving casualties of routine duty rosters are also nation-dividers if they scream out for protection and deplore a breakdown in the entire security architecture of the nation?

“But the fault is not one-sided. Let governors also wake up to their constitutional rights and duties. There are vast areas of those rights that have been trampled upon, usurped for far too long.

‘’Forget legislative jamborees of constitution reviews – we have had our fill of them – all the files are gathering dust. It is time for Reparations! Dust up those files and head for the courts. Prepare for name-calling, just as long as such names embody – Dividers-in-law!

‘’Only then shall we uncover who are the real Dividers-in-Chief? If individual voices rankle, then perhaps it is time to convoke a Nation Survival Conference. 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.’’



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