Re: What did Obasanjo do to Soyinka?

Wole Soyinka

I refer to the above article by Professor Pius Abioje published in the Guardian of 07 May 2019.

The writer’s pieces appear on my reading radar frequently. What you can’t take away from him is that he doesn’t pussy-foot on the big issues.

His spear is always in the sand. I must add here that I respect him for his gumption. Whilst trying to hone my writing skills, I was advised to stay away from two subject areas: politics and religion but with a caveat, if you must, then you have to present facts not opinion. 

So I try to stick to facts and avoid emotionalism in my essays. I have tried to understand the writer’s points of views from religion, politics and insurgency but have found it hard to pin him down on his ideological stances.

For instance he wanted Obasanjo’s Third Force contrivance to win the last general elections even though that isn’t the answer to Nigeria’s problems.

He also blames the current president for an insurgency that started under the watch of Obasanjo, a general, which he could not squelch and the sharia crisis that he let ride on for selfish political reasons instead of tackling at the supreme court to shame the governor turned cleric who allowed the north to be a boiling cauldron.

The writer finds it fitting to say sharia has fizzled out, I wish he can travel to Kaduna to see the level of disunity that sharia crises brought to that state and the entire north.

So what is really new about Soyinka’s criticism of Obasanjo’s style of governance. Here is a man brought to save the country from collapse but fast tracked its destruction, a model Goodluck Jonathan copied from him and made worse with this current president, whom I voted for in 2015 because I hoped he was going to restore the country to sanity but became like Jonathan, a president on the throne to make history. What does Professor Abioje really want.

In his many pieces on religion he misses the point when he decreed wholesale that Islam and Christianity hamper Nigeria’s progress. I disagree. I would rather he had said, “the adherents of Islam and Christianity as it is practised in Nigeria hamper Nigeria’s progress.”

The other day my boyhood friend was in Senegal and he ear-wigged some Islamic clerics advise the Senegalese not to be as fanatical with religion as Nigerians.

While multiculturalism affects many countries around the world positively, the global trend has affected us negatively.

Nigeria is supposed to be the success story of Africa but has performed abysmally not because of religion but because of the character of the people who practice religion.

We sing and dance for symbolism’s sake in Church but do not love our neighbours. We make public pledges in the millions sometimes to showboat even when our housemaids wear rags and can only go to school at 9:30am instead of at 7:30am after having done all their house chores.

If you are someone who carries some weight, twelve ministers of The Lord will attend your daughter’s wedding as opposed to one if you are a lowly being. A religion that once cared for the people, educated the poor now annihilates the poor.

No Abioje, not Christianity and Islam but the adherents of these two religions hamper Nigeria’s development. We are bedeviled by dark undercurrents of hate and demagoguery, the fraternal ideological divides that have proved to be a thorn on our national flesh.

With the failure of governance where else should people look for hope and inspiration? The Mosques and Churches are now centers where many are brainwashed. And we have used these places wrongly to fleece people of their resources, indoctrinate wrongly and make others militants for a peaceful God.

Despite civilization, Nigerians are taught to remain in the seventh-century. The religious do not bother about humanitarian efforts of feeding the hungry, homeless, the sick and elderly.

My hope has been that with democracy, Nigeria would separate religion from the state and offer every citizen political participation in everything noble. But this is not to be now and doesn’t look likely to be anytime soon.

Professors such as Wole Soyinka, one of the very few around need to be respected by Professor Pius Abioje for his consistent activism from his youthful days, and you cannot bend the character of such a person now. Biases are normal in life but not the biases that lead to the subjugation of people.

Soyinka may have a soft spot for president Muhammadu Buhari but he does not spare him from objective attack. Before the general elections he put out a statement to the effect that he would not vote for him. That says a lot about the under-performance of this president.

Our democratic lavations should not only be about persons but about systems and not only carried out during electioneering periods but at all times which is where Soyinka is different because he has been consistent in his quest for a better Nigeria even when his life was at stake.

Whilst I remember I got the underneath message from my Whatsapp chat with Professor Dele Owolawi: “In an ancient Temple, a number of pigeons lived happily on roof top. When the renovation of the Temple began for the annual Temple feast the pigeons relocated themselves to a Church nearby.

The existing pigeons in the Church accommodated the newcomers very well. Christmas was approaching and the Church was given a face-lift, All the pigeons had to move out to look for another place.

They were fortunate to find a place in a Mosque nearby, the pigeons in the Mosque welcomed them happily. It was Ramadan time and the Mosque was repainted, all the pigeons now came to the same Ancient Temple.

One day the pigeons on top found some communal clashes below in a market square. The baby pigeon asked the mother pigeon ‘Who are these people?’ The mother replied; ‘they are Human beings’.

The baby asked, ‘But why are they fighting with each other…?’ The mother said ‘These human beings going to Temple are called ‘Hindus’ and the people going to Church are called ‘Christians’ and the people going to Mosque are called ‘Muslims’.

The baby pigeon asked, ‘Why is it so? When we were in the Temple we were called Pigeons, when we were in the church we were called Pigeons and when we were in the Mosque, we were called Pigeons.

Similarly they should be called just ‘Human beings’ wherever they go’ The mother Pigeon said, ‘You and me and our Pigeon friends have experienced God and that’s why we are living here in a highly elevated place peacefully.

These people are yet to experience God. Hence they are living below us and fighting and killing each other when they are all human beings created by the same God whom they all claim to serve! Perhaps there will be peace if they refer to themselves simply as human beings instead of seeing themselves as Hindus, Christians or Muslims.” – Anonymous Please let ‘Kongi’ Professor Wole Soyinka be.

Abah Wrote From Abuja

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