Nigerian Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has blamed politicians and public office holders for the worsening Nigerian situation, saying their impunity had attracted the myriads of challenges bedeviling the country.
He added that while politicians and public office holders remain unrepentant actors of impunity, they were been emboldened by the docility of Nigerians, particularly those they share ethnic and religious sentiments with.
The celebrated writer and poet noted that Nigerians, irrespective of political, religious, and ethnic background were complicit in the impunity among the political class and that there was a need to reverse the ugly trend.
Speaking on Wednesday during the 24th edition of the Wole Soyinka Lecture Series organized by the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity), the Nobel Laureate argued that the insecurity, poverty, among other challenges pervading the country, was the result of Nigerians’ docility to denounce impunity and demand accountability.
Continuing in his remarks during the lecture that was held via zoom, Soyinka noted that it was important for every Nigerian should take responsibility for allowing impunity to thrive in the country and begin to close ranks in ending the menace.
“I would probably expect that from different perspectives in terms of timing, there might be disagreement I am absolutely certain that we would agree that one of the major reasons for the dilemma we are undergoing in this country right now is that we permitted, we nurtured, we even encouraged either by actions or inactions, the mindset of impunity both in leadership and among the people.
“We ourselves are equally guilty. We ourselves allowed it. We watched it happened. We didn’t take to the streets to protest it, to denounce it, to warn of the consequences. Oh yes, there were warnings here and there but they were not concerted and structured. So it is not too late to reverse the trend. But at least we must first begin a frank, honest, and objective dialogue.”
On his part, the keynote speaker, Prof. Patrick Lumumba, who decried rising impunity and Africa’s underdevelopment, noted that the issue of impunity was not peculiar to Nigeria alone but permeates the African continent.
The renowned Kenyan-born good governance activist lamented that despite their open incompetency, Nigerians and other Africans reward corrupt leaders with re-election.
“It is pertinent to ask why Nigeria which had such great promise continues to wallow in the lower rungs of human development. Why are Africans and Nigerians silent in the face of impunity? Why in the words of Wole Soyinka has the man in us died?
“Despite the impunity by our public office holders, by some miracle, we are not enraged! It would also seem that we have lost the gift of disgust. Why is this so, who cursed us?
“We are the co-authors of our own misfortune because we have lost our values and now resort to religion. We now choose to apply faith instead of logic, elevating the principle of ‘Donothingnism’. We have created leaders who have arrogated themselves the monopoly of wisdom and the country is now run in a narrow and primordial fashion.”