Professor Wole Soyinka has warned that the country is on the path of self-destruction and may not celebrate the next Democracy Day except President Muhammadu Buhari listens to and provides leadership that addresses the agitations and grievances of various groups of Nigerians.
Soyinka, who likened the tempo for disintegration in recent time to that witnessed prior the civil war, charged President Buhari to have a rethinking that recognises that the realities of disintegration, destabilisation and insecurity are upon the nation.
He described recent interviews and press statements by Buhari as tantamount to threatening, bullying and intimidating the people, as he called on the president to address the nation like a leader awake to the realities of the situation while being seen to be taking actions.
Speaking while featuring on Arise Television programme on Monday, Soyinka warned that Buhari’s government is doomed except the president sacks some of his appointees who had been distorting the present realities of Nigeria to him.
Soyinka said: “On this so-called Democracy Day, we are embarked on a plane on a nosedive and Buhari had better listen to the various initiatives which have taken place around him.
“Let us have a sense that, in Aso Rock, whoever is in charge is listening, ingesting, digesting, analysing and recognising the fact that the tempo of disintegration of this country has accelerated in the last couple of years beyond anything we have ever known since the civil war.
The language which Buhari used in his interview recently and his statements from Aso Rock in relation to those clamouring for one thing or the other, especially secession advocates, is an act of criticism.
“It is a critical statement of the situation as it is, and any sensitive leadership must learn to understand and respond to the reasons behind those agitations, not trying to threaten, bully and intimidate the people because they are giving vent to deep-seated grievances.
Kidnapping has become everyday business and someone comes on air and acts as if all is well, as if we are in a minor hiccup. I am saying this whole nation is about to self-destruct and it is time Buhari and his government listen and take action, otherwise we will not be celebrating another Democracy Day come next year.
“It’s about time Buhari sacked most of those around him; they are not doing him or the nation any service. They are distorting and they are people saying things he wants to hear to him.
“If he is depending on them, his government is doomed and so is this nation.
“Buhari must address the nation and I don’t mean the kind of interview he did the other day which was to tell Nigerians that he was hale and hearty.
“He must address the nation and say, using his own words, that we are in a state of war and that we must be prepared for the worst but that, at the same time, the government is in full solidarity behind the people, that sacrifices will be made, tightening of belts here and there, even go as far and say that some of our current lifestyle, things we could take for granted, we may have to do without them simply because we have an internal enemy force which is eating into the intestines of the nation.
He should begin by talking to the people like a leader who is awake to the realities of the situation. Then let us see actions actually being taken. I am tired of hearing that we will see differences in a few weeks time, in a short while. He has got to take people into confidence; he has got to stop exuding a false confidence because that kind of confidence is totally false. It is not based on realities.
“And we have to see an acceleration of actions to retrieve this nation from the very edge. It is no longer the problem of the people but the problem of leadership because the people have shown themselves ready to act to save their own communities.”
Speaking on attacks and killing of Nigerians with the Igangan mayhem the most recent, Soyinka said the outcry of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State for authorisation for use of AK-47 and other sophisticated firearms was echoing the misery, desperation and despair of Nigerians concerning insecurity. Soyinka said he would have expected Buhari to immediately act on Makinde’s request for authorisation.
“The Oyo State governor recently made a statement that had to do with the attack, butchering that took place in the state which is one of those most recent defining moments of the future of the nation. The governor was saying he cannot defend his own people.
“He said he has set up the structures of defence but lack the equipment and he is speaking not just for himself, but repeating what everybody has been saying: we don’t have the equipment, we are waiting for authorisation from Aso Rock, President Buhari.
“I expected a leader to get into the fray and say immediately, what authorisation are you waiting for? Your people are being killed, you need this, I am going to facilitate it, come and see me in Aso Rock.
“This governor is articulating the misery, the despair, desperation of his own people who say we are being butchered everyday, serially, collectively and we need this to be able to protect ourselves and continue to be part of this nation.
“What brings up people like Sunday Adeyemo [Igboho] is when they feel that they are not being listened to and that their very existence is in jeopardy, in great question.
“If the Benue people had the logistics and positioned to talk about dissension, they will have been the first talking about dissension considering what has been happening to them over the past few years and nobody seems to be able to find a solution. Go to the Western corridor of Nigeria, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo towards Kwara and see what is happening. Why was Amotekun created? It is an act of desperation, frustration.”