Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has said Nigeria is in a mess and disintegrating before our very eyes. He made this disclosure in a chat with newsmen at Freedom Park in Lagos today. The theme of the media parley was: Covid, Technology and Citizens banishment.
“We are in a mess. This country is in a mess. It is disintegrating before our very eyes. This government is floundering,” he said.
He made this statement against the backdrop of the political crisis in Anambra State, the frequent killings in the state and the threat by secessionist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, to forestall the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state from holding.
“The problem here is that the government does not have a holistic grasp of the problems in Nigeria… If we are looking to this government for a solution, then it means we are lost,” Soyinka maintained.
The literary icon said the government is only good at proferring piecemeal solutions to problems, which is not healthy enough for the continued existence of this country.
Professor Wole Soyinka. Photo by Ayo Efunla
He then said the only solution to the myriad problems the country is facing at the moment is a Sovereign National Conference in which the various ethnic groups in the country would come together and find pathways to their mutual coexistence.
The Nobel Laureate also expressed his disappointment at the shambolic and embarrassing treatment he got at the hands of officials of the country’s Ministry of Health and External affairs as he was about to fly back to Nigeria from Paris.
Not only was his flight delayed because according to them he had to be given a permit to travel citing Covid-19 reasons but was made to go through some rigorous processes such as going to the Nigerian Travel Portal permit to seek a permit to travel. But the Nobel laureate was at a loss about the connection between the Ministry of External Affairs and Covid -19.
The Nobel laureate, already stressed out by the delay was finally allowed to travel by virtue of a special treatment he was given, which he spoke vehemently against.
“I don’t believe that I or any Nigerian require a special treatment to enter the country, ” he averred.
“When an individual is prevented from entering one’s country due to the lapses of others, then there is a problem.”.
Soyinka said he could have used his status to navigate his way through the strictures imposed by the government officials but he just wanted to experience the rigorous processes that ordinary Nigerians go through.
“This is a plea to the Ministry of Health and that of External Affairs which I believe must have participated in this.’
Though the Nobel Laureate believes that it is necessary to take precautions, it should not be done at the expense of the rights, freedom and well-being of individuals. “Once technology breaks down, intelligence should come to the rescue … I am not saying we shouldn’t take precautions,” he said.
Soyinka then used the opportunity to criticise the Federal Government on what he called the banishment of Yoruba secessionist leader Sunday Igboho in Benin Republic. He wondered why it is more difficult to leave the country than to enter, just as he had just experienced in Paris, France. He likened what Igboho and many Nigerians are going through at the hands of government officials to feudal banishment.
Professor Wole Soyinka
“I didn’t think it is more difficult to leave one’s own country than to return until recently,’ he said.
“I am not sure how igboho left the country. But I am sure he did not go through the regular borders,”. This is a disgrace,” he lamented.
Soyinka then advised government officials to stop treating Nigerians like criminals and illegal immigrants, as they are usually delayed unnecessarily trapped in limbo. “I think that is wrong,” he said