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Soyinka Knocks Buhari Over Anti-Igbo, Civil War Comments

by on June 5, 2021
 

Wole Soyinka, world renowned playwright has berated President Muhammadu Buhari for threatening to treat the Igbo in the language they understand.

Buhari had said: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War.

“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

Soyinka, in a lengthy statement titled: ‘To Shock and Awe,” said when, however, a Head of State threatened to “shock” civilian dissidents, to “deal with them in the language they understand”, and in a context that conveniently brackets opposition to governance with any blood-thirsting enemies of state, there was need to call attention to the precedent language of such a national leader under even more provocative, nation disintegrative circumstances.

“What a pity, and what a tragic setting, to discover that this language was accessible all the time to President Buhari, where and when it truly mattered, when it would have been not only appropriate, but deserved and mandatory!

“When Benue was first massively brought under siege, with the massacre of innocent citizens, the destruction of farms, mass displacement followed by alien occupation, Buhari’s language – both as utterance and as what is known as “body language” – was of a totally different temper. It was diffident, conciliatory, even apologetic. After much internal pressure, he eventually visited the scene of slaughter. His language? Learn to live peacefully with your neighbours.

“The expected language, rationally and legitimately applied to the aggressors, was exactly what we now hear – “I shall shock you. I shall deal with you in the language you understand”. That language was missing at the moment that mattered most. It remained “missing in action” for years until a belated “Shoot at sight” outburst. Too late, and of course, inappropriately phrased. The precedent had been set, the genie let out of the bottle, consolidating a culture of impunity that predictably spread its bloody stain all over the nation,” he said.

Soyinka added that Buhari’s recent deployment of this language was thus wrongly targeted, and tragically untimely, adding that even while he was threatening dissidents, an agenda of both secessionism and alien occupation was taking place not too distant from Aso Rock.

He said ISWAP was taking over the already excised territories of Shekau’s Boko Haram, appointing new warlords of the occupational forces, sectioning Nigeria into vassal states and unfurling their replacement flags of domination.

Soyinka lamented that the evocation of the Civil War, where millions of civilians perished, was an unworthy emotive ploy that had run its course.

He added: “In any case – and this has been voiced all too often, and loudly – the nation is already at war, and of a far more potentially devastating dimension than it has ever known. Every single occupant of this nation space called Nigeria has been declared potential casualty, children being pushed to the very battlefront, without a semblance of protective cover. We have betrayed the future.

“We need no breast beating about past wars. The world has moved on, so have nations. Some, however, prefer to move backwards. The continent is full of these atavists. In Nigeria, powerful cliques of this persuasion still roam the corridors of power We are indeed at war. It does not take the formal declaration of hostilities, with or without lethal bombardments, for a nation to find itself shell-shocked. The populace of this nation is already in that shell-shocked condition. So, what is there left to shock?”

The Nobel laureate said it is time to think “outside the box” and that many, in so doing, found no landing place except dissolution, “is not a crime. It is not peculiar to any peoples, and is embedded in the ongoing history of many, and not only on this continent.

“It is their natural right as free citizens, not slaves of habit and indoctrination. Where disillusion rides high, sentiment tumbles earthwards, and the only question becomes: what can be salvaged? It thus remains the responsibility of leadership to persuade them, through both discourse and remedial action, that there are other options. Attempted bullying is not a language of discourse, nor the facile ploy of tarring all birds with the same feather.”

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