‘Get ready for new betrayal’: Soyinka warns Nigerians in BBC interview (READ)

by Kolapo Olapoju

Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, says the two leading presidential candidates, President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party and Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) of the All Progressives Congress, are ‘problematic candidates’.

In an interview with the BBC on Monday, February 16, Soyinka stressed that the two leading political parties should have presented better options than the two leading candidates.

Soyinka said: “There is a huge albatross hanging [around] the necks of the two main candidates. I can understand the dilemma which many voters have”, adding that “one contender is troubled by the present, the other by the past.”

The acclaimed wordsmith also chastised Jonathan for his failure to rescue the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in April 2014.

“What happened was a clear failure of leadership – a slow reaction, an inadequate reaction and response,” Soyinka told the BBC. He stressed that while responsibility for the Boko Haram crisis rested with President Jonathan, the government could not be held solely responsible for the entire jihadist problem as it began under previous governments.”

“Buhari and his partner, the late Gen. Tunde Idiagbon, after (former military head of state) Sani Abacha, I think they represented the most brutal face of military dictatorship. There is no question about that. But the environment changes, circumstances change and I look at the possibility of a genuine internal transformation in some individuals. I’ve been disappointed before and we must always be ready to be disappointed again.”

Soyinka, however, said Nigerians should be ready to “go back to the trenches stand up against misrule from whoever wins the election.

“Nigerians should be prepared to deal with any new betrayal by any ruler with the same passion and commitment as they did with the late Sani Abacha because we cannot continue this cycle of repetitious evil and irresponsibility.”

When questioned on the path to take in tackling the menace of Boko Haram, the Nobel Laureate said: “an aerial bombardment with weapons of the mind” as well as the military offensive.

He said: “All kinds of propaganda leaflets should have been raining in those areas because not all members of Boko Haram are convinced. They need to know there is an exit and the state will take care of them. Then the waverers’ minds have to be reinforced on the positive side – on the side of humanity. The kind of propaganda being used now between the political parties, just a fraction of that should have gone into attacking Boko Haram.”

On whether he believes the nation could disentegrate within the next decade, he said: “I doubt it very much. The threats of dismemberment have been going on so long that one of these days there is going to be a wish fulfilled.”

“The idea of either dismembering at the cost of human lives, as the Boko Haram people are trying to do with their caliphate delusions or to force people to stay together as happened in the case of the [1967-1970] Biafra war, doesn’t make sense, it’s an abuse of intelligence. Arrangements can be made in which people stick together under protocols of association which allow some kind of autonomy for certain issues and other cases centralised policies.”

Speaking further, Soyinka stressed that the huge amount of money being spent to prosecute political campaigns can only lead to broken electoral promises.

“What does this make of the incoming government? This money came in from somewhere. It means such candidates are going to owe, they are obliged to interests which are not necessarily in the best interests of the nation. So, a lot of the electorate will be disappointed at the failure – the reneging on electoral promises – because there may not be funds for the fulfilment of those promises.”

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