Nobel Laureate and foremost playwright, Prof Wole Soyinka on Tuesday threw his weight behind former President, Oluesgun Obasanjo over the alleged division of the country under President Muhammadu Buhari.However, Soyinka in a presentation titled “BETWEEN ‘DIVIDERS-IN-CHIEF’ and DIVIDERS-IN-LAW”, said Nigeria has never been so divided.
“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 playwright said in a statement issued in Abeokuta on Tuesday.
Obasanjo last week said Nigeria “is fast drifting into a failed and badly divided state” under Buhari administration.
This, he said, are the products of recent “mismanagement of diversity and socio-economic development of our country.”
Obasanjo spoke while delivering a paper titled “Moving Nigeria Away From Tipping Over’ at a consultative dialogue in Abuja.
The presidency, however, fired back in a statement issued by a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu who described Obasanjo as “Divider – in – Chief.”
Not an OBJ fan
Soyinka admitted that he is not an Obasanjo fan, but he embraced 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.”
He said “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 brutalized citizenry, should learn to bow under the yoke and negotiate, since “only the living” can enjoy the dividends of legal rights?
“To reel off any achievements of a government – genuine or fantasised, trivial or monumental – is thus to dodge the issue, to ignore the real core concerns.
“No government, however inept, fails to record some form of achievement – this was why it were elected, and it takes real genius to succeed in spending four years actually doing nothing. What it fails to do, or what it does wrongly, deceitfully or prejudicially is what concerns the citizenry.
“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!”