Soyinka said he could never be associated with such a group.
Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, said he would need to be checked by a psychiatrist if he joins forces with the Coalition for Nigeria which was founded by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
In a statement issued by Obasanjo on January 23, 2018, titled, “The Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement”, he was highly critical of President Muhammadu Buhari‘s administration and advocated for the creation of a movement that’ll stand up to the country’s two biggest political parties.
While speaking during an interview with the BBC, Soyinka said he could never be associated with such a group.
“Me? Obasanjo would establish a group and I will become a member of such group? That means they should get a psychiatrist to examine me,” he said.
Soyinka suspicious of Obasanjo’s intentions
The outspoken Nobel laureate further called for caution in how Nigerians treat the public criticism of Buhari that has come from Obasanjo and another former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida.
He warned that the message should be separated from the messenger because the intentions of the messenger might differ from that of common Nigerians who might not be discerning enough to notice.
He said, “When these soldiers begin to speak, we are supposed to get suspicious and ask what exactly do they have in mind? It is possible that what they have in mind is different from what we have in mind.
“You can look at it from two perspectives, the messenger and the message. The message should be examined closely. We should not look at the misdeeds of the messenger alone. Let’s start by asking, is he saying the truth or telling lies, or is he being tricky?
“If he is saying the truth and talking about things that are beneficial to the masses, we would allow that be. After that, we would now look at the person speaking, what is in his mind?
“Even if it’s a little child who is speaking, as far as that child is saying the truth, we won’t ask the child to keep quiet. We won’t ask the child what do you know? We would listen.
“It is the same situation with those who have presided over the affairs of this nation without making significant progress.
“We have seen their weaknesses, we have seen their nakedness in public, if they now want to be covered by saying that they have turned a new leaf, we would examine that, too. What I am saying in essence is that what they have said should also be examined.”
Time for youths to take over
Soyinka also charged Nigerian youths to rise to the challenge of fixing the country by working themselves into positions of power.
He said, “We have a lot of them. It is the turn of the younger ones. If they come together, as we speak, if they can start now and bring out one individual among them, we will work with him.
“We are going to give them the support they need to transform the country. People like us are supposed to sit somewhere.”
What is Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigeria?
In Obasanjo’s January statement, he pointed out major failings of President Buhari’s administration and urged him to not consider reelection in 2019.
He also expressed his lost hope in the ability of the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC) and opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in providing Nigeria with the initiative it needs to progress.
The former president’s solution to being free of the dominance of both parties was what he called the Coalition for Nigeria movement.
According to him, the coalition will be a movement of all well-meaning Nigerians that will engage in democratic practices that will drive Nigeria forward and be a source of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress.
He said, “Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.
“The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short, medium, and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality.
“What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden.
“It is our human duty and responsibility so to do. Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity.”
Despite his backing for the group, the former president also made it known that he’ll cease to be a part of the movement the minute it becomes a political platform that sponsors candidates for elections.
On February 1, Obasanjo filled a membership registration form at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat in Abeokuta, Ogun State to officially signify his membership with the movement.
He was accompanied by former Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke, who were both present at the official launching of the group in Abuja on January 31.
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