Soyinka: don’t reduce anti-fuel subsidy removal protests to ethnicity – The Nation

•’Boko Haram is ethnic, destabilising agenda’
Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka yesterday berated some elements from the Southeast and Southsouth for giving the anti-fuel subsidy removal protests an ethnic colouration.
He noted that such perception was dishonourable, dishonest and unfair to the patriots who protested against maladministration on the streets.
The acclaimed writer decried the recurrent bomb explosions that have killed many Nigerians in the North, saying the Boko Haram sect harbours an intent to fuel ethnicity at the detriment of Nigerians.
The retired university don described the presidential system as a disaster, noting that it has shown Nigerian legislature as the personification of corruption.
He chided the Federal Government for deploying troops in Lagos, saying the soldiers were not out to protect the residents.
Soyinka spoke in Lagos at a town hall meeting, with the theme: Endemic Corruption: The Bane of Good Governance, organised by the Save Nigeria Group (SNG).
Other speakers at the lecture included the SNG Convener Pastor Tunde Bakare; an economist, Henry Boyo; leader of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin; former Lagos State House of Assembly member Babatunde Ogala; Afro-beat musicians Femi Kuti and Dede Mabiaku.
Urging the government to halt the persistent bombings in the country, the literary giant said: “Boko Haram has embarked on a programme of inciting Nigerians against Nigerians.”
To frustrate the plan, he urged Nigerians to protect those who are endangered because they are from other parts of the country.
Soyinka noted that the activities of the sect resemble a virus, saying these should not dissuade Nigerians from sticking to the principle of good neighbourliness.
He rejected the moves by certain elements outside the Southwest to discredit the successful five-day protests in Lagos against fuel subsidy removal.
Soyinka said: “A new citizenship spirit has emerged and it is very interesting and stimulating. The organisation and spontaneity of the protests is worthy of being adopted by other countries.”
The Nobel Laureate warned that there should be no ethnic division in the course of the struggle against fuel subsidy removal, adding that this could easily break the Nigerian spirit.
He said it is dishonest, dishonourable and unfair to reduce the demonstration to an ethnic affair, recalling that the fight for resource control, true federalism and true fiscal federalism, which had similarity with the recent struggle, were pursued with nationalist fervour.
Soyinka said the motivating factor during that battle was the human principle of equity and fairness, and not because of the desire to promote ethnicity.
He recalled that when a Second Republic member of Bornu State House of Assembly (Alhaji Abdurahman Shugaba) was wrongly deported, those who resisted the attempt to make him a wanderer in the wilderness and target were from the Southwest.
The Nobel Laureate described corruption as a “hydrapus”, “an unending circle” and “a monster”. He regretted that perpetrators committed serious financial crimes in Nigeria and went scot-free.
Soyinka said: “In Greece, certain measures taken by the government triggered protest by people who refused to back the imprudent government. Nigerians felt the same when they took to the streets. Corruption is a universal disease. There is a way they deal with it in China. They settle it with bullet and the bullet is paid for by the family. In other countries, it is public shame. In Nigeria, they give you chieftaincy titles.”
According to him, it is impossible to tackle corruption in Nigeria without reforming the legislature. He said monies are paid into the accounts of legislators for trips they would not make.
Dismissing the cut in lawmakers’ salaries as a ruse, the renowned writer called for a systemic transformation, which he said has proved to be a financial burden on the country.
Soyinka referred to the Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi’s outburst over the rise in the recurrent expenditure, saying: “It is factual. It is ridiculous that some legislators are earning more than the President of United States of America.
“We call for a National Conference because we know that the legislators would not act against their interests. The presidential system is a disaster. The legislature is an “hydropus” sucking the nation. Why should we have full time legislators? All these liberalisation, privatisation, deregulation lead to deprivation. Cancer cannot be cured with bandage.”
On trops deployement in Lagos, he said: “The soldiers have not come to protect us. When it is time, people will rise to reclaim their space.”

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