Noble Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka has advised the Nigerian government to stop worrying about the language of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s when he made comments about insecurity but rather focus on the substance of the statement.
Obasanjo, during the second session of the Synod of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Oleh, Isoko South Local Government Area, Delta State, said that every insecurity challenge in the country must be taken seriously and addressed without favouritism or denial.
He said: “It is no longer an issue of lack of education and lack of employment for our youths in Nigeria which it began as, it is now West African Fulanisation, African Islamisation and global organised crimes of human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, gun trafficking, illegal mining and regime change.”
The Federal Government in its reply on Tuesday rebuked the former President for his state saying it was tragic for someone like Obasanjo who fought for Nigeria during his days in the military to be making such “offensive and divisive in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like Nigeria”.
However, speaking yesterday in Lagos at the Africa Day 2019 organised by United Bank for Africa (UBA), Soyinka cautioned the government against overlooking Obasanjo’s advice.
The Nobel Laureate, who spoke on the theme: “Africa’s history redefined: Our past, a path to the future”, observed that Nigeria was going through “horrendous descent into the abyss”.
The literary giant said: “We should be careful not to be too dismissive over the matter. The Federal Government is leaving aside the substance, which is the high level of kidnapping, youth suicide, and terrorism in the country. I support unity in Africa but we need to particularize the area of unity we seek. Even Boko Haram also tries to unify everybody.
“When you talk about Uthman Dan Fodio, what comes to people’s mind is a threat to dip the Koran into the Atlantic Ocean. There are many people in this controversy. My feeling is that the response of Minister of Information shows that they are leaving behind the substance, and worried about the language.
“Obasanjo was calling for a meeting to tackle some the serious issues in the country, including youth suicide. He said there are immediate needs to sit down and discuss these issues. And I am saying there are more immediate needs to do that.”
Other speakers at the event are Afrobeat musician, Femi Kuti and Samia Nkrumah from Ghana, among others.