Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has said Nigeria may not celebrate another Democracy Day next year if President Muhammadu Buhari fails to listen to all different agitations and initiatives around him.
Soyinka stated this in an interview on Arise TV on Monday. The Nobel Laureate also warned that Nigeria will not stay together if the president does not quickly decentralise the country.
He said: “On this so-called democracy, we are embarking on a nose-dive or what I will describe as suicide drive and Buhari needs to listen to all different agitations and initiatives which are taking place around him
“He should recognize the fact that the tempo of disintegration of this country has accelerated in the last couple of years beyond anything we ever knew since the civil war, and I’m not sure Nigeria can remain as one if we fail to decentralize.
“If Nigeria fails to decentralize as fast as possible, in such a way that people will see it manifesting, then Nigeria cannot stay together. If a nation is on suicide slide, the people who feel that they do not deserve that kind of suicidal slide have a right to say sorry, we are getting off this plane before it nose-dived.
“I am beginning to believe that people have different definitions for democracy, particularly our political leaders and I’m beginning to wonder whether this government, led by Buhari, really understands the implication and full responsibility and commitment involved when people say they are practicing democracy.”
‘FG handling agitations badly’
Soyinka said the manner the Federal Government is handling agitations across the country showed that it is not ready to listen to the people.
“In truncating various channels of expression open to any populace, you are actually abrogating the very essence of democracy. Democracy is not sequence or symbolic gestures of June 12 as Democracy Day.
“When you truncate any channel of self-expression of people, you literarily become an enemy of democracy.
“Also the language used by Buhari in responding to agitation for secession is very unfortunate. Any sensitive leader must understand and respond to the reasons behind those agitations, not to start to threaten, bully or intimidate people.
Buhari not listening to govs on open grazing
On open grazing, the Nobel laureate scolded governors for being too timid and not able to act promptly on the wishes of their people.
He said: “For instance, Southern governors said on behalf of our people, we do not want open grazing anymore.
“Then somebody who sits in Aso Rock says he will instruct his Attorney-General to dig up some kind of colonial law so he can recover on behalf of a certain private business the old route.
“That is an indication that he is not listening to what governors and the people they represent are saying.”
He suggested immediate sack of some of the President’s aides, saying they are not doing him or the nation any service,
“It is high time he sacked most people around him; they are not doing him or the nation any service, they are people who say to him what he wants to hear, if he is depending on them, then this government is doomed,” he said.
Threats won’t work
Soyinka insisted that President Buhari must address the nation.
“First of all, Buhari must address the nation. I don’t mean the kind of interview he granted on television where he says he was healthy.
“He must admit that we are in a state of war and we must be prepared for the worst, but at the same time, the government is in full solidarity behind the people.
“He needs to make people understand that sacrifices will be made and can even go as far as telling people that they will do away with some government lifestyle because there is an internal enemy which is eating into the nation’s intestine.
“He needs to start talking to people as a leader who is awake to the reality of the situation, then let us see action taken, he has to take people into confidence.”
Soyinka said he will not subscribe to the notion that the people of Nigeria are the problem because they had shown willingness for a better Nigeria.
“Our problem as a country is not that of people but leadership because people have shown that they are ready to act to save their own community.
“People also take to the streets in demonstration and expression of their grievances. Government needs to understand that the idea of threatening people doesn’t work any longer,’’ he said.
Senate, Reps not doing enough; govs too timid
Soyinka said: “Our political representatives are not doing enough, especially the Senate and House of Representatives.
“If you study the constitution very carefully, you will realise the fact that they have certain powers which they have not touched, which they can use to compel this government to act the way it should. It’s not good enough.
“Even the governors are also too timid, there are some laws they can push, so we can get a sense of governance at all tiers, people are ready to stand behind their leaders.
“People are doing what they can in their own capacity, they are mobilizing, they are creating self-defense, they are marching the streets demanding extreme action, so what else did they need to be doing?”
Alleged support for the Yoruba nation
Soyinka said he never made any statement supporting the emergence of a Yoruba nation, noting that people merely put words in his mouth.
He said angrily: “Yoruba nation or Biafra when it is time, I will make a statement but let me seize this opportunity to appeal to people to stop putting words in my mouth.
“If you think you can pressure me to speak by putting words into my mouth, you are wasting your time and are a traitor to common goals. In this sensitive period, I must warn Nigerians to stop playing around with sensitive issues so they can continue to enjoy my support.
“If you go to the Western corridor and see what is happening, why was Amotekun created? It is an act of desperation or frustration because those in charge of kidnapping have turned it into business, and somebody comes on air and says all is well.
“This whole nation is on the path of self-destruction and is not the only one saying it and this is the time Buhari’s government should listen and take action, otherwise we may not celebrate another Democracy Day come next year.”