Soyinka seeks new debate on governance ethics

SoyinkaDRAWING instance from what he termed “Gen. Buhari’s unusual elevation of the anti-corruption struggle to the very top of his governance agenda”, Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, yesterday in Lagos canvassed the activation of a “transformative debate on the ethics of governance.”

The debate, which according to the literary icon should be “pursued as a continent-wide undertaking”, becomes imperative in view of deep manifestation of unethical conducts among the ruling elite.

Speaking yesterday on the topic: “Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) in Osun State: For Culture Or Penkelemes?” Soyinka said: “That debate, the genesis of much of a continent’s post-colonial woes of devastating dimensions, is sometimes described as the ‘sit-tight syndrome’.

It consists of the corrupt privatisation of public entities – including nations – with all their assets, even the intangibles! My ever-growing conviction that this is a long overdue discourse, limitless in scope and ramifications, to be pursued as a continent-wide undertaking.”

He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to lead the campaign by directing his probe searchlight to what Soyinka tagged penkelemes in the running of the affairs of the UNESCO Centre in Osogbo.

He, however, warned: “Gen. Buhari – in the absence of a Foreign Minister – that, as a consequence of activities of this “CBCIU” double, the nation is being dragged into a sleazy situation through the attempted co-option of its foreign missions into logistical support for their global enterprises.”

Responding, an aide close to the former Osun State governor who pleaded anonymity, said: “We view this as a continuation of Prof. Soyinka’s failed 2008 campaign to frustrate the approval of the centre by UNESCO.

But on this renewed attacks, we will react appropriately at the appropriate time.” Yesterday, Soyinka began his address thus: “One way to summarise the situation of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) at this moment requires no deep elaboration.

It goes thus: There is Law, and there is Ethics. Wherever these two arbiters of public conduct appear to clash, even Ethics must bow to Law. On the other hand, it is useful to remember also that the sinews that bind civilised society together are strengthened when both – Law and Ethics – converge, and are harmonised in a public cause. “To come down to the specifics of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, I require no convincing that this ideal harmonisation was manifested when the lawmakers of Osun State enacted, in 2012, an amendment to the original CBCIU law that had been signed into law by Governor Oyinlola on December 29, 2008.

That original law, in my view, was profoundly unethical. The amendment, by the succeeding House of Assembly, signed into law on July 31, 2012, was clearly designed to inject an ethical corrective into the original law.

I am not qualified to comment on the legal intricacies of the provisions in either, if any – this must be left to “our learned friends” of the legal profession.

They have however advised that the July 2012 amendment supersedes the original, and that this amendment constitutes the current law within under which the CBCIU obtains its validity, until overturned under a new law enacted by a chamber of equal or superior jurisdiction.” “From the corporate, we move to the individual.

Here, I wish to outline the section of the amendment by the Osun House of Assembly that remains of primary interest to me, personally. It is that portion which articulates, in accessible language, that much desired convergence of Law and Ethics, which as earlier proposed, offers society a basis for civilised existence.

I quote: “Section 8 of the Principal Law is hereby amended by substituting thereof the following provisions: (a) The Board shall consist of the following members: (i) The Chairman of the Board who shall be the governor or anyone appointed by him for this purpose…

For emphasis, I call attention to that section again which states: “Who shall be the governor…? “In contrast, the parallel provision in the original, now ineffectual law, signed by Prince Oyinlola, states – “Who shall be Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola”? Oyinlola to Oyinlola, and Oyinlola forever and ever – Oyinlola! “What the amendment legislates is that the CBCIU is public property, established and maintained with state funds, funded by the state, housed by the state and instituted by elected representatives of the people. It is not private, hereditary property, not even of the most elevated royalty.”



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