Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said on Sunday that he had already formed his opinion about the government of the ruling All Progressives Congress and knew exactly “where I’m going to cast my vote” when voting time comes.
But Soyinka warned Nigerians not to allow themselves to be hoodwinked by those he said took part in the destruction of the country, but were now parading themselves as messiah.
He urged Nigerians not to allow themselves to be plunged into “a zone of amnesia,” but to go back and check the track records of such people and the company they kept.
The don said it was time that the old political order in the country be broken to give way for a new generation that would take over the country and throw out of the window “the same jaded traitors and enemies of the people” that were being recycled in power.
Also, activist lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said Nigeria was facing serious crisis of governance, and called on the people to be very careful “so that we do not allow those who destroyed the country, those who ruined the nation, to pose as the saviour of our people.”
Soyinka and Falana spoke alongside others at a public lecture on Sunday organised to mark the 80th posthumous birthday of the late human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN).
The lecture, with the theme, “Democracy for the masses through proper and effective governance,” held at Alausa, Ikeja.
Setting the tone for the discussion, Soyinka, who chaired the occasion, urged Nigerians to beware of those who called themselves the God-designated watchmen over the country’s fortune.
He said, “Don’t allow yourself to plunge into a zone of amnesia, in which you conveniently forget unpleasant realities. We’ve had Presidents in this nation, some of whom inaugurated a never-ending democratic process, which landed us eventually under the most brutal dictators that this nation has ever known. We had others also who actually supervised the sacking of ‘democratic government.’
“I’m speaking of Anambra, I’m speaking of Oyo State, a governor was kidnapped under their watch with their complicity; in another instance, thugs actually entered the House of Assembly, sacked the legislators and installed their own candidates; under the same watch. And they call themselves the God-designated watchman over the fortunes of this nation. And suddenly, here they are and I see Nigerians flocking to them and asking them once again to lead.
“Mind you, they’ve said very clearly: if it becomes a political party, count me out o; but paths are already being beaten to their doors – control by surrogation. Even if they do not individually put themselves back in the position of power, they are already smoothening the way for their surrogates, their stooges, so that they can continue to misrule from their cozy farmsteads. So, all I’m urging is: be very vigilant.”
Soyinka said while he had already taken a stand on the current government, it would be like adding salt to an injury to allow himself to be hoodwinked by those who want to rule the country by surrogate.
He added, “For heaven’s sake, also grow up. Why do you need patronage? Why cannot a new order arise from this nation? Why can’t a new generation actually rise, throw us all out of the window and take control of their own lives by themselves? Why do we keep recycling the same jaded, traitors and enemies of the people? Why do you need to go for blessing somewhere if you’ve made up your mind that it is time to take control of your own existence? Why the constant trooping?
“I don’t understand it and that’s why I used the expression grow up for heaven’s sake. Be vigilant and take your own destiny in your hands. Once again, I don’t want to be misunderstood, I know what I think about this government when voting time comes, I know exactly where I’m going to cast my vote but I’m not going to allow anybody to hoodwink me and say I will show you the path. No, this will be adding insult to injury.”
Aligning himself with Soyinka, Falana said, “Like the chairman on the occasion, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said, this period calls for vigilance on the part of Nigerians. Our country is undergoing serious crises of governance but we must be very careful so that we do not allow those who destroyed the country, those who ruined the nation to pose as the saviour of our people.
“There’s somebody living very close to this place who has been parading himself as the saviour of our people; this guy ruled the country for 11 and a half years cumulatively – three and a half years under the military, eight years under a civilian dispensation. And he even wanted to do a third term but Nigerians rejected him. The guy is going round the country now, claiming to have solutions to our problems; I wish to say here and we are challenging him to name one thing that he did, any problem of the country that he solved.
“On the contrary, this guy wasted $16bn to generate darkness for the country. This guy formed and took over the resources of the country blindly under what he called blind trust. Nigeria is the only country in the world where a sitting President and a sitting Vice-President established private universities when the government refused to fund public universities and other tertiary institutions.
“Gani went to court to challenge the extortion of state governments and contractors by a man who realised about N7bn to set up a so-called library. Under the constitution, any gift received while you are in office, other than customary gifts, is forfeitable to the state; therefore, at the right time, this country, when it is properly organised will take over all those universities and libraries that were set up with public funds and that may be sooner than you think.”
Also, Senator Shehu Sani said though the country was out of military rule it had yet to attain true democracy. He called on the people not to vote based on political parties but to vote individuals who they could trust.
“The political ruling elite are not yet prepared to see to a democratic Nigeria. Nigeria’s political reality is about personal interest. Those who destroyed our country in the past are very much present as born agains. The integrity of one person is not enough to rule and sustain a state. We have a President who is a man of integrity but integrity is not enough for leadership,” Sani said.
But the Publisher of Sahara Reporters and presidential hopeful, Omoyele Sowoye, rejected Sani’s description of President Muhammadu Buhari as a man of integrity.
Sowore said, “I want to say very briefly that Nigeria must be regretting that when they had a chance to choose between Chief Gani Fawehinmi and a Barabbas, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, they decided to choose Obasanjo instead of choosing Gani Fawehinmi and that is why we are regretting today.”