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Soyinka backs Obasanjo, says Nigeria divided like never before under Buhari

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Elder statesman and playwright, Professor Wole Soyinka, has agreed with Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the opinion that Nigeria is now more divided under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari than ever.

Soyinka in a statement signed from his Autonomous Residence of Ijegba, Idi-Aba Estate, Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Tuesday titled, “Between ‘Dividers-in-chief’ and Dividers-in-law,” said though not a fan of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, but embraced any accurate reading of this nation as a contraption teetering on the edge of total collapse, Punch reported.

Obasanjo had last week during a book launch attended by socio-political groups said the country was slowly becoming a failed state and more divided under the Buhari regime.

But the presidency reacted to the comment by describing the ex-president as a ‘Divider-in-chief.”

Soyinka said, “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.”

The Nobel laureate stated that on Africa Day, May 2019, organised by the United Bank of Africa, he 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, urging the wisdom of heeding the message, even while remaining chary of the messenger.

The Akogun of Isara 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 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 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. 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?”

Meanwhile, A group of elder statesmen in Nigeria has expressed concern on the response of the Presidency to their meeting with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying they “have no regrets or apologies to offer for making ourselves available to dialogue.”

The statesmen under the aegis of Nigerian Elders and Leaders said while they were not mouthpieces of Obasanjo, it was regrettable that their responsible and constructive effort to douse tensions, build bridges and restore hope Nigeria would “attract the type of childish vitriol from the Presidency.”

The elders said this in a statement by Yinka Odumakin (Afenifere), Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed (Northern Elders Forum), Chief Guy Ikokwu (Ohanaeze), Senator Bassey Henshaw (Pan Niger Delta Forum), and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt Forum).

The statement read, “To say that the Presidency chose to react in the manner it did to a responsible and credible initiative by our groups and a former President, is, to put it politely, deeply disappointing and worrying. Our groups are not mouthpieces of President Obasanjo, and we will leave it to him to choose how he responds to the lamentable response of President Buhari to his initiative.

“For us, it is sufficient to say that we have no regrets or apologies to offer for making ourselves available to dialogue with each other, exchange ideas, and re-commit ourselves to pulling our nation from the brink of precipice of no return.

“The communiqué released at the end of our meeting, which we are confident is only the first of many, is a loud testimony to our levels of responsibility and maturity. We have received countless commendations from many responsible Nigerians for supporting and participating in this initiative to make our country a democratic and united entity

“We are even more worried at this stage that a responsible and constructive effort to douse tensions, build bridges and restore hope in the potentials for the survival of our country as democratic and united entity will attract the type of childish vitriol from the Presidency, including labelling us as terrorists.
 

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