History Is Repeating Itself- Wole Soyinka


Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has admitted that history might just be repeating itself on the issue of the Dapchi school girls adoption.

While speaking at a dialogue organized by Ripples Center for Data and Investigative Journalism in Lagos, Soyinka revealed the reaction of former Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan to the abduction of schoolgirls in Chibok during his tenure.

Soyinka said Jonathan told him that the abduction of the schoolgirls was his own business and he should deal with it. He said Jonathan believed the opposition was using the abduction to discredit his government, and it wasn’t until three weeks after the incident that Jonathan acknowledged that over 200 girls had indeed been abducted in Chibok, Borno state.

Soyinka said:

“I reached out to former President Jonathan, and protested, chiding him severely on his reaction over the abduction of the Chibok girls. I said to him; ‘you want to be accepted as a political leader, and you do not even accept as your duty to be there, at the scene of the disaster?’ And I asked him, did you actually utter those words attributed to you?  His response remains a riddle to me till today.”

He continued: “His exact words to me, not easily forgotten I assure you, were ‘Kampala tie niyen,’ meaning that is your own Kampala.”

With history repeating itself in Dapchi where schoolgirls were recently abducted, Soyinka said that rather than visiting the affected areas, Buhari should speak to people’s security needs, and bring perpetrators to book. He said that failure on the part of government has been the reason the country is yet to get over the security challenges.


Herdsmen Attack: Ayodele Fayose Supports Wole Soyinka’s Call For Organized Resistance

Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose has supported Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyika who recently called for an organized incursion of herdsmen in the country to stop the recent attacks.

Governor Fayose said: “The comfort our leaders enjoy from their office is momentary. But the suffering of the people may be permanent if the leaders continue to look away as if nothing is happening just because they are enjoying the comfort of their office.”

According to a statement, yesterday, by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said he was particularly happy that notable leaders in the country, especially Prof Soyinka heeded his call for all men of good conscience to speak up against the wanton killing of Nigerians by herdsmen, who are acting more like terrorists.

He said Ekiti State will further strengthen local hunters in the States by formally bringing them together under Ekiti State Hunters Association, EKSA, and equipping them to protect our people and their sources of livelihood.

Fayose, who said that the herdsmen menace has become a major security and economic threat in the country, added that it was clear that the federal government was not ready to do anything to stop killings of Nigerians and invasion of people’s farms by herdsmen.

The governor maintained that those approaching the herdsmen menace with ethnic and religious sentiments were not helping the country, saying; “What Nigeria is witnessing now is pure criminality. It is terrorism in the name of cattle rearing and anyone defending the killing of fellow Nigerians and destruction of farmlands is an enemy of this country.

“If our people have decided to embrace farming, how do we reconcile a situation where their farms are either being destroyed by cows or cruelly set ablaze by supposed herdsmen?

“Today, in many parts of the country, people are even afraid to go to the farm for fear of being killed by supposed herdsmen. How do we promote agriculture under this kind of situation?

“Therefore, I salute the courage of Prof Soyinka for speaking out, though late, but it is better late than never.

“Those armed herdsmen are nothing but another form of Boko Haram insurgents and they must be treated as such.”


Wole Soyinka Accuses Govt Of Encouraging Herdsmen Attack

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has accused that government of encouraging herdsmen attack in several parts of the country.

Soyinka who spoke at a press conference on the damaging consequences of marauding herdsmen on the nation, noted the unforced errors going on in the nation with the theme: “Herdsmen and Nation: Valentine Card or Valedictory Rites?” said the sooner Buhari gets out of that trance, the better for the country.

Prof. Soyinka gave an analogical tale of a state whose master’s insensitivity allows for the overbearing actions of his subjects.

He lamented that mass destruction of farmlands in the most horrifying manner had become a norm, festering with the encouragement of the government’s body language.

Soyinka described as appalling the position of the Inspector General of Police that the loss of lives in Benue State, and consequent increase in the number of internal refugees, was simply a communual clash.

In his view, little will be achieved in security without state police.

“If the IG can sit in Abuja and say of an event that is happening under the jurisdiction of a governor in another state is just a communal clash when people are being slaughtered and their villages are being occupied, it shows complete alienation. Then there is the authority of Governors who have the ultimate authority for security. It is the governor who is supposed to be the chief security officer. We are now back to authoritative voices saying indeed, state police need to be decentralised. We have been saying it and others have been saying for a long time. We are now getting back to the commonsensical issue that the nation cannot function under a single police command,” he said.

Acknowledging, however, that the Nigerian Army has done marvelously in degrading the capacity of the Boko-Haram insurgents, the poet-activist said “it must now turn around to face another phenomenon which is considered in some international circles deadlier than the Boko-Haram”.

According to him, the containing efforts happening now should have begun six months as he expected the force to have immediately transferred its concentration from operations, such as Python Dance and Crocodile Smile to where the heat was.

He said the security agencies have the responsibility to look at highly-placed people in whose interest anarchy can be fostered.

Soyinka added: “Why colonies were brought in to complicate things, I do not know. Ranches; that’s the word used everywhere. There is no organized illegal force that does not sooner or later spin up. Are these internally generated or are they being launhed by individuals who in their interest the nation must be in a state of anarchy? We sometimes talk about corruption but we don’t understand how far corruption goes. When you think of the amount being stolen in this country, enough funds illegal fund to destabilise the country. We might end up discovering that some of these people profit from ensuring there is chaos from Maiduguri to Lagos.”

Speaking on restructuring, Soyinka said: “Sooner or later, people will recognise the fact it’s not broken record they are listening to, it’s their hearing that is impaired. In other words, we have been shouting restructuring, now its inevitability has always been stressed. The internal relationship of the units of this country be decentralised. And anytime you talk about restructuring, you hear this gibberish that the sovereignty of this country will not be compromised. Who is talking about sovereignty? We are saying the internal components of the country needed to be addressed … We must decentralise governance.”

Asked what he would tell President Buhari if he met him, the Nobel laureate said: “I would say: Mr President, I think you are under a trance. “The sooner he gets out of it the better. So many unforced errors are going on,” he added.

Prof. Soyinka cited Buhari’s recall of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Usman Yusuf, after he was suspended for alleged graft by Minister of Health Isaac Adewole, as a recent example of the unforced errors that have characterised the administration.


Impunity Rides Again, By Wole Soyinka

It is happening all over again. History is repeating itself and, alas, within such an agonizingly short span of time. How often must we warn against the enervating lure of appeasement in face of aggression and will to dominate! I do not hesitate to draw attention to Volume III of my INTERVENTION Series,and to the chapter on The Unappeasable Price of Appeasement. There is little to add, but it does appear that even the tragically fulfilled warnings of the past leave no impression on leadership, not even when identical signs of impending cardiac arrest loom over the nation. Boko Haram was still at that stage of putative probes when cries of alarm emerged.Then the fashion ideologues of society deployed their distancing turns of phrase to rationalize what were so obviously discernable as an agenda of ruthless fundamentalism and internal domination. Boko Haram was a product of social inequities, they preached – one even chortled: We stand for justice, so we are all Boko Haram! We warned that – yes indeed – the inequities of society were indeed part of the story, but why do you close your eyes against other, and more critical malfunctions of the human mind, such as theocratic lunacy? Now it is happening again. The nation is being smothered in Vaseline when the diagnosis is so clearly – cancer!

We have been here before – now, ‘before’ is back with a vengeance. President Goodluck Jonathan refused to accept that marauders had carried off the nation’s daughters; President Muhammadu Buhari and his government – including his Inspector-General of Police – in near identical denial, appear to believe that killer herdsmen who strike again and again at will from one corner of the nation to the other, are merely hot-tempered citizens whose scraps occasionally degenerate into “communal clashes” – I believe I have summarized him accurately. The marauders are naughty children who can be admonished, paternalistically, into good neighbourly conduct. Sometimes of course, the killers were also said be non-Nigerians after all. The contradictions are mind-boggling.

First the active policy of appeasement, then the language of endorsement. El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, proudly announced that, on assuming office, he had raised a peace committee and successfully traced the herdsmen to locations outside Nigerian borders. He then made payments to them from state coffers to cure them of their homicidal urge which, according to these herdsmen, were reprisals for some ancient history and the loss of cattle through rustling. The public was up in arms against this astonishing revelation. I could only call to mind a statement by the same El Rufai after a prior election which led to a rampage in parts of the nation, and cost even the lives of National Youth Service corpers. They were hunted down by aggrieved mobs and even states had to organize rescue missions for their citizens. Countering protests that the nation owed a special duty of protection to her youth, especially those who are co-opted to serve the nation in any capacity, El Rufai’s comment then was: No life is more important than another. Today, that statement needs to be adjusted, to read perhaps – apologies to George Orwell: “All lives are equal, but a cow’s is more equal than others.”

This seems to be the government view, one that, overtly or by implication, is being amplified through act and pronouncement, through clamorous absence, by this administration. It appears to have infected even my good friend and highly capable Minister, Audu Ogbeh, however insidiously. What else does one make of his statements in an interview where he generously lays the blame for ongoing killings everywhere but at the feet of the actual perpetrators! His words, as carried by The Nation Newspapers: “The inability of the government to pay attention to herdsmen and cow farming, unlike other developed countries, contributed to the killings.”

The Minister continued: “Over the years, we have not done much to look seriously into the issue of livestock development in the country….we may have done enough for the rice farmer, the cassava farmer, the maize farmer, the cocoa farmer, but we haven’t done enough for herdsmen, and that inability and omission on our part is resulting in the crisis we are witnessing today.”

No, no, not so, Audu! It is true that I called upon the government a week ago to stop passing the buck over the petroleum situation. I assure you however that I never intended that a reverse policy should lead to exonerating – or appearing to exonerate – mass killers, rapists and economic saboteurs – saboteurs, since their conduct subverts the efforts of others to economically secure their own existence, drives other producers off their land in fear and terror. This promises the same plague of starvation that afflicts zones of conflict all over this continent where liberally sown landmines prevent farmers from venturing near their prime source, the farm, often their only source of livelihood, and has created a whole population of amputees. At least, those victims in Angola, Mozambique and other former war theatres, mostly lived to tell the tale. These herdsmen, arrogant and unconscionable, have adopted a scorched-earth policy, so that those other producers – the cassava, cocoa, sorghum, rice etc farmers are brutally expelled from farm and dwelling.

Government neglect? You may not have intended it, but you made it sound like the full story. I applaud the plans of your ministry, I am in a position to know that much thought – and practical steps – have gone into long term plans for bringing about the creation of ‘ranches’, ‘colonies’ – whatever the name – including the special cultivation of fodder for animal feed and so on and on. However, the present national outrage is over impunity. It rejects the right of any set of people, for whatever reason, to take arms against their fellow men and women, to acknowledge their exploits in boastful and justifying accents and, in effect, promise more of the same as long as their terms and demands are not met. In plain language, they have declared war against the nation, and their weapon is undiluted terror. Why have they been permitted to become a menace to the rest of us? That is the issue!

Permit me to remind you that, early in 2016, an even more hideous massacre was perpetrated by this same Murder Incorporated – that is, a numerical climax to what had been a series across a number of Middle Belt and neighbouring states, with Benue taking the brunt of the butchery. A peace meeting was called, attended by the state government and security agencies of the nation, including the Inspector General of Police. This group attended – according to reports- with AK47s and other weapons of mass intimidation visible under their garments. They were neither disarmed nor turned back. They freely admitted the killings but justified them by claims that they had lost their cattle to the host community. It is important to emphasize that none of their spokesmen referred to any government neglect, such as refusal to pay subsidy for their cows or failure to accord them the same facilities that had been extended to cassava or millet farmers. Such are the monstrous beginnings of the culture of impunity. We are reaping, yet again, the consequences of such tolerance of the intolerable. Yes, there indeed the government is culpable, definitely guilty of “looking the other way”. Indeed, it must be held complicit.

This question is now current, and justified: just when is terror? I am not aware that IPOB came anywhere close to this homicidal propensity and will to dominance before it was declared a terrorist organization. The international community rightly refused to go along with such an absurdity. For the avoidance of doubt, let me state right here, and yet again, that IPOB leadership is its own worst enemy. It repels public empathy, indeed, I suspect that it deliberately cultivates an obnoxious image, especially among its internet mouthers who make rational discourse impossible. However, as we pointed out at the time, the conduct of that movement, even at its most extreme, could by no means be reckoned as terrorism. By contrast, how do we categorize Myeti? How do we assess a mental state that cannot distinguish between a stolen cow – which is always recoverable – and human life, which is not. Villages have been depopulated far wider than those outside their operational zones can conceive. They swoop on sleeping settlements, kill and strut. They glory in their seeming supremacy. Cocoa farmers do not kill when there is a cocoa blight. Rice farmers, cassava and tomato farmers do not burn. The herdsmen cynically dredge up decades-old affronts – they did at the 2016 Benue “peace meeting” to justify the killings of innocents in the present – These crimes are treated like the norm. Once again, the nation is being massaged by specious rationalisations while the rampage intensifies and the spread spirals out of control. When we open the dailies tomorrow morning, there is certain to have been a new body count, to be followed by the arrogant justification of the Myeti Allah.

The warnings pile up, the distress signals have turned into a prolonged howl of despair and rage. The answer is not to be found in pietistic appeals to victims to avoid ‘hate language’ and divisive attributions. The sustained, killing monologue of the herdsmen is what is at issue. It must be curbed, decisively and without further evasiveness.

Yes, Jonathan only saw ‘ghosts’ when Boko Haram was already excising swathes of territory from the nation space and abducting school pupils. The ghosts of Jonathan seem poised to haunt the tenure of Muhammadu Buhari.

OMG! Wole Soyinka Should Not Be Alive With This Revelation

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has said he ought to have died going by his lifestyle.

The Playwright and Poet, revealed this in an interview with the Financial Times, London, where he disclose that he doesn’t drink water.

The 83-year-old professor of literature and political activist was responding question on how long he intends to live. He replied,

“By all logic, I should not be alive right now because of my lifestyle.

“I flout everything they teach at medical school, including the fact that I don’t drink water. I eat only when I want to.

“I don’t obey the rules of cholesterol.”

He further revealed that he used to smoke hard cigarettes such as Gitanes, Gauloises, cigars and cheroots, but he had quit smoking.

“I lost interest several years ago,” Soyinka said while also revealing an argument he once had with the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro on the perils of smoking.

He added, “I had an argument with Fidel Castro about it. By that time Castro had got religion about the perils of smoking and he rounded on a guerrillero, saying, ‘This is bad for you. I have medical evidence.’

“I said, ‘Wait a minute. Leave the man alone. Let him find his own time.’

“Castro loved to argue. But I think that day he met his match.

“The following morning a box of cigars — Cohiba — arrived at my hotel. It just said, ‘With compliments of the Cuban government.’ Who did it? To this day, I’ve no idea.

“But I still have some of them in Abeokuta. That’s the story of my smoking career.”

I Ought to Have Died- Wole Soyinka

Based on his “lifestyle”, Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Laureate ought to have died by now.

This is a personal admission that the 83-year old legendary playwright made to a question by the Financial Times of London, on how long he intends to live.

He said, “By all logic I should not be alive right now because of my lifestyle,” he replied.

“I flout everything they teach at medical school, including the fact that I don’t drink water. I eat only when I want to. I don’t obey the rules of cholesterol,” he added during the conversation with David Pilling, the FT Africa editor, at the Pescatori restaurant in west London.

Soyinka is by his own admission a non-smoker, although he said he used to smoke hard cigarettes such as Gitanes, Gauloises, cigars and cheroots, but he had quit smoking.

” I lost interest several years ago,” he said, also revealing an argument he once had with the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro on the perils of smoking.

“I had an argument with Fidel Castro about it. By that time Castro had got religion about the perils of smoking and he rounded on a guerrillero, saying, ‘This is bad for you. I have medical evidence.’ He started bullying him. I said, ‘Wait a minute. Leave the man alone. Let him find his own time.’ ” Soyinka says this triggered a two-hour discussion.

“Castro loved to argue. But I think that day he met his match.” The two called it an evening and Soyinka retired to bed. “The following morning a box of cigars — Cohiba — arrived at my hotel. It just said, ‘With compliments of the Cuban government.’ Who did it? To this day, I’ve no idea. But I still have some of them in Abeokuta. That’s the story of my smoking career.”

Here Are Wole Soyinka’s Words Concerning 2019 On-Going Campaign

One of the Africa’s best writers, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has made public his view concerning the campaign of politicians for the 2019 elections at Freedom Park where he unveiled 10 Nigerians writers who would be leaving for Lebanon  in a cultural exchange programme, The Sail Project, between The Wole Soyinka Foundation and Cedar Institute, University of Lebanon.

The Professor of Comparative Literature said it is too early for the country to begin to talk about the next election when the incumbent is two years into his first term. He also spoke about the clamour for a second term by loyalists of the President saying;

“Why are we talking about a second term for heaven’s sake? I don’t understand this. We have hardly gone half-way or barely gone half-way and people are already talking about positions.

“I refuse to be part of that discussion and absolutely refuse to be part of that discussion,” 

Speaking on the need for reconstruction and how Nigerians should not be manipulated by issues that are brought up on purpose to deviate their attention he added;

“when people use words like restructuring, reconfiguring, you can call it reconfiguration, you can call it return to status quo, you can call it reformulating the protocol of association, you can use those long words, but, you can use a single word like restructuring, it doesn’t matter. Everybody knows what we are talking about.

“Number two, there are those who try to divert direct attention away from the main issues by mounting platitudes, cliches like it is the mind that needs restructuring, you know who I am about. This constant process of restructuring the mind is both an individual exercise as well as theological exercise. People go to churches and mosques to have their mind restructured; they go to school, they go to extra-mural classes to have their mind restructured. Restructuring the mind is not the issue, nobody is saying the exercise of restructuring the mind should not be undertaken; anybody who indulges in self-examination is already engaging in mind restructuring.

“I find it very dishonest and cheap; time selling, trivializing the issues, when I hear the expression that it is the mind which needs to be restructured. Who is arguing it? Who is denying that? It is not a substitute, why are you bringing it up?

“We are talking about the protocol of association of the constituting part of a nation, we are talking about decentralization, that is another word.

“This country is over-centralised…So, individuals should not now try and sidetrack the issue and say concentrate on that rather than this. Are you saying that you cannot reconstruct the mind and reconstruct the nation at the same time?

“My take on it and my express advice to the citizenry is that they should not allow themselves to be sidetracked. Call it whatever name, what we are saying is that this nation is long-overdue for reconfiguration. That is the expression I chose to use now.”

Soyinka was also of the view that it was wrong for president Buhari to say  the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. He noted that it was another was another attempt to ‘sweep the issue under the carpet,’ and insisted that no one talked about dismembering the country.

“We know there are movements for secession;  let Buhari and others go and address this separately. This should not be mixed with the demand of a nation for reconfiguration. People should stop answering the demand for secession by pretending to answer the demand for reconfiguration.

“Secession should be a different thing.

“To try and suggest that the moment you say ‘restructure,’ you are calling for disintegration, is for me, intellectually dishonest, that is not the issue at all.

“The issue of outright secession is totally different. Even if it is only one state that is left, that state has a right to say, ‘listen you people, let us restructure this state.’

“The protocols which have gone into the making of this state are no longer valid or have been distorted along the way or have been abandoned and we want to go back to the original set of protocols that created what we call this national entity. In other words, there are choices all over the place, you can say you want to re-invent the wheel completely or you can say you want to go back to the original protocol of association, whichever way,”

Assessing Buhari’s administration in the last two years, Soyinka said that there were gaps, citing the issue of security as a case study. He said: “The average citizen feels less secure now than it did few years ago, that is evident. When people talk about state police, there are reasons for that; when they talk about bringing policing right down to the community level, they know what they are talking about. This is part and parcel of reconfiguration or reconstruction.

“The economy, there is a big question on it right now; fortunately everybody admits that we went through a very bad patch; right now, is the question of have we come out of it or not? In fact there is no question about it. The past few years have been years of internal economic disasters for the average citizen, but it is a question of who laid the seed? When and where and how were the seeds laid for the agony this nation is going through the last few years?”

For Francis Abiola Irele – “Olohun-Iyo” By Wole Soyinka

rue, numbers diminish, but we are not thereby

Diminished. Memories rack, yet lift

Our spirits off the rack of remembrance. Be it

The echo of a harsh scrape, decades dimmed,

Of a street café chair, rue des Ecoles, puncturing

Peals of laughter, a head thrust sideways,

Quizzical in contestation – these hoarded trivia

Flit in and out of mind, unbidden, contesting

The tyranny of absence.

Earth revolves, nothing is resolved

The hours pass in spurts of sparse fulfillment.

We remain the thoughts we spin, and leave

Lingering over wine vapour, tobacco spirals

Around audacious faces – were we not

The Renaissance generation? Then, Gauloises,

Gitanes vied with filtered cigarillos – it was

That time when smoke-free lives were yet

Unborn. We littered Presence Africaine with stubs

And words of passion, moulders of identity.

Let no one grudge those you leave behind

These keepsakes. Some will speak Negritude,

Others Marxism and aspiring Communes. You were

The cosmopolitan, consummate, straddling proposition isles.

The Muses held you in thrall, deftly you skirted

Dogma traps. A lyric voice, suddenly in full flight

On a Donizetti aria – fittingly we named you

Olohun-iyo – but next breath became a midwife, fixated

On parturition of a new nursery of creativity.

Why this sudden ‘Francis’, I once charged, intrigued.

It swam against the tide of black awakening. Your reply,

A dismissive shrug – The name was stamped on me.

All family history – I merely restored my full identity.

Some enigma lurked, but his was right of reticence.

I simply canonized St. Francis of the Muses,

For saint indeed he was – of letters – bore the stigmata

Invisibly, the scars of honour, earned in defence

Of hallowed space for unfettered intellect.

Freed of those sudden flares of latent scars –

The triumphal march of neo-barbarians at our gates –

You join the absent throng of griots, preceptors,

Their arms wide open to enfold you. Enter.

Suave medium of their grand accord – Damas,

Depestre, Okigbo, Aime Cesaire, Walcott, Sedar Senghor –

You made their lives your own. From rubble of the Tower

Of Babel, smoothed paving stones to float an isthmus – Black

Continent to island beaded Caribbean. You spun

A rainbow of insights over the waters of Dispersal.

Death kicks us in the groin. We cry Foul

An off-shore umpire looks the other way. Our protests

Merely swell the ocean of separation. Blithe spirit, who

Wove bright sashes round the peaks of lyric,

Plunged, pearl diver, to the ocean beds of thought, brought

Parnassus to Idanre, Montparnasse to Olumo – elegance

Of mind the sustaining cord of an unending quest –

Alas, Aburo, that you must set off, too soon for vain desire –

For that famed Diaspora of No Return.


One Voice Protest: Soyinka Calls Police’s Actions a Huge Disappointment

Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has knocked the Nigerian Police Force for wprking against the One Voice protest planned by a musician, 2face Idibia, and other civil groups against Federal Government alleged non-performance.

In a piece published on an online news portal, Sahara Reporters, Soyinka described the Police’s actions as undemocractic,“a huge disappointment, a disservice to the cause of democracy, tolerance of dissent, and principle of inclusive governance.”

Soyinka said, “The police attempt to reverse the hands of the democratic clock is even more appalling at a time when open demonstrations are taking place all over the world against the policies of a recently elected President of the United States, (Donald Trump), whose democratic formula allegedly serves as Nigeria’s adopted model. Across numerous states of that federated nation, ongoing at this very moment, is the public expression of rejection of a President’s policy that has also pitted the executive against the judiciary. We have heard of no preventive action by the police, or arrests of demonstrators.

“Again and again, efforts, both under military and civilian orders have been made to stifle the rights to freedom of expression by Nigerian governments – Buhari, Babangida, Obasanjo, Abacha, Jonathan….and now again, Buhari? These efforts have been, and will always be resisted. It is a moral issue, as old as settled humanity. It has been settled in other parts of the world. Nigeria cannot be an exception, not as long as her citizens refuse to accept the designation of second, even third-rate citizens…

“I hope that, even at this eleventh hour, legality and the democratic imperative will prevail. Finally, I shall be less than honest if I do not add the following, mostly directed as a warning to the very polity on whose behalf the democratic war is joined, again and again:

“Minus a minuscule but highly voluble minority, mostly of pitiably retarded polluters of the common zones of public interventions, I do not know of any citizens of civilised community who do not subscribe to the fundamental Right of the Freedom of Expression in any form, as long as it is peaceful, and non-injurious to humanity. I would hate to conclude that the security agencies, or the government they serve, at this stage of national development and recent history, would choose to align themselves with such an unteachable minority.”

Meanwhile, alhough 2face has “cancelled” the protest scheduled for Monday, citing security concerns and sinister plans to hijack the March, but, the National Association of Nigerian Students, the Enough is Enough group and a popular comedian, Seyi Law have promised tp go on with it.

Buhari Heeds Soyinka’s Advice, Convenes Economic Conference

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the convocation of a national economic conference aimed at rallying the country together to offer solutions to the current economic challenges facing Nigeria.

A top government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed this to a group of journalists in Abuja on Thursday.

The approval came barely a week after Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, called on the President to summon an emergency economic meeting to recommend specific solutions to the nation’s prevailing economic challenges to save the country’s economy from further drift.

The nation’s currency has slumped drastically against the dollar in recent months due largely to the scarcity of the foreign currency and the tough regulations of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

This appeared to have led to spiralling inflation in the country as most products are produced abroad, putting the nation’s foreign reserves and currency under intense pressure.

The price of crude oil in the international market has continued to fall since November 2014, threatening to frustrate the provisions of the nation’s N6.07tn 2016 budget.

Soyinka, who made the call when he visited the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Abuja last Thursday, had said experts and consumers should be invited to the meeting.

“The President should call an emergency economic conference with experts to be invited – consumers, producers, labour unions, university experts, professors, etc. I think we really need an emergency economic conference, a rescue operation, bringing as many heads as possible together to plan the way forward,” Soyinka had said.

But the government source said the idea of the economic conference, which had tentatively been fixed for March 10 and 11, was first discussed at the 65th National Economic Council meeting held on January 28.

The council, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had all the state governors and the Central Bank Nigeria Governor, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and some ministers as members.

It has a constitutional role of advising the President on economic matters.

The source said the NEC members had in their deliberations called for a major conference, where the current economic situation of the country could be thoroughly discussed by all the states and the Federal Government.

He added that in approving the idea, the President himself would declare the conference open and participate fully in order to demonstrate his personal commitment to the idea.

He said the views of the private sector and non-state actors would also be sought at the conference.

The source explained that well-respected global experts were expected at the conference to aggregate the views of other governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental institutions.

The government official stated, “The NEC retreat, as is being called by the Federal Government and the states, becomes imperative amid dwindling oil prices with a direct and significant impact on the money now available for federal allocation and sharing between the FG, states and local government councils.

“For instance, the FG states and local governments shared a sum of N370.4bn a few days ago for the month of January 2016, which is a drop of more than N17bn from the N387.8bn shared the previous month of December last year.

“That could be compared for instance with what was shared in January 2014, which was N629bn and N503.6bn the previous December, both higher significantly than the present situation.

“Another concern of the FG and the states necessitating the economic conference is the drop in foreign reserves of the country, which is now already below $30bn and compelling the CBN to adopt tough forex measures, including the ban on certain items from forex funding and rationing.

“The depreciation of the value of naira has also become an attendant impact of the foreign exchange scarcity.”

He added that it was the President’s expectation that the conference would be solution-centered and also create an opportunity to rally the nation, the FG, states and private sector together for a clear and mutually beneficial economic direction.

“It is interesting that a respectable Nigerian (Soyinka) recently raised the idea of a national economic conference earlier this month, the same idea that had been decided by members of NEC at their January meeting. It shows there is indeed a wide consensus on the idea,” he said.

He explained that although government was not calling the conference an emergency one, it was clear that both federal and state governments agreed on the need to discuss frankly and develop innovative ways to take the country out of the economic challenges of the day.

The source explained that while the FG was clear on what direction it intended to drive the country economically, there was the need to rally the entire nation.

He said there was the need to call on the government and the people to tighten their belts and prepare for sacrifice.

“The President has already set the tone for frugality in spending by cutting off routine security votes among other cost-cutting measures.

“Besides, the idea of a Zero-Based Budgeting and Treasury Single Account are parts of the attempt by the Federal Government to tighten public revenues and finance,” he added.