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Obasanjo least worthy of ex-leaders, says Soyinka

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Wole Soyinka


Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo is the least worthy of former Heads of State to champion the political recovery process of the nation”.

He said by doing so, Obasanjo has “crossed the red line”.Soyinka stated this in Abuja at a Gala Dinner and Award Night hosted by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture as part of programmes of the 67th World Congress of the International Press Institute (IPI).

Soyinka, a Guest of Honour at the dinner, described Obasanjo as a “hypocrite” He said he would soon launch a book where he articulated his claims and also made a call on the need for the younger generation to take over the reins of the country.

“I have brought out a publication which title is in Latin but it means “Who watches the Watchmen” .

“That publication is coming out simply because I will like to see new blood in government in this nation.

“I think this corrupt and hypocritical geriatrics should stop recycling themselves.

“They should stop trying to co-opt their former cronies to take over the reins of governance in this country.

“On July 4 at Freedom Park in Lagos, the pamphlet will be unveiled and will confront Obasanjo with his crimes of the past which incidentally are not being newly articulated.

“I say again that people are their own greatest enemies, because they forget very fast. Obasanjo is the greatest hypocritical leader this nation has ever produced,” he said.

The Professor of Literature and a critic said contrary to claims by some people he has “nothing personal against late Sani Abacha” a former Military Head of State.

Soyinka was responding to a questioner who wanted to know why the Nobel Laureate always displays open hatred for Abacha.

“You say I don’t leave Abacha alone even after death, it is not true.

“If I am walking through the street, and I see a structure raised in honour of a torturer, a murderer and a thief so recognised by the entire world that we are still chasing his loots all over the world, I cannot keep quiet.

“If I see a structure or monument in honour of that person, I have the responsibility to tell whoever did so that you cannot be serious with fighting corruption,” he said.

Soyinka congratulated the Nigerian Journalists for bringing IPI congress to the country for the first time adding that the timing was remarkable.

“The timing is remarkable in the sense that IPI is being hosted by a nation whose current President, Muhammadu Buhari, is somebody I refer to as born again Democrat.

“Not so long ago, as a military leader, he came out openly that he will tamper with the press freedom and he matched his words with deeds.

“He jailed a couple of journalists for sticking to the ethics of their profession

“Here you are today, that same president is now actually trying very hard and most successfully to respect the freedom of expression.

“It goes to show that all is not lost in this nation,” he said

Soyinka rated the Buhari Administration 55 per cent in press freedom and freedom of speech.

To improve on the rating, he suggested elimination of “secret, subtle and self censorship” as well as often submission to pressure.

“For instance, we cannot continue to hide under the subtle threat of – do not heat up the polity- even when we know that the polity deserved not just to be heated up, but to be fired”.

“If we disregard that, which is a grey area, I am optimistic that we will in a couple of years attain 75 per cent guaranteed in freedom of speech,” he said.

He also called on journalists to continue to discharge their roles with courage and improve on investigative journalism.

Soyinka added that the whistle blowing policy should be sustained so that the criminal elements will understand that the hiding zones are shrinking everyday.


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