NOBEL laureate, Wole Soyinka, has described Nigeria as a slave depot and asked its leaders to seek international support to end its protracted security crisis.
Soyinka made the statement at Freedom Park, Lagos on Thursday, April 7, 2022 at an event with the theme, ‘Forget the past, forfeit the future: A Nation seceding from Humanity.’
Referring to the kidnap of 276 female students of Government Girls Secondary Scool, Chibok, Borno State, in April 2014 by the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, as an instance of a slavery practice, which he said the United Nations was opposed to, the literary giant said the security situation in the country was alarming. Nigerian leaders, he added, would need to drop their pride and seek foreign aid eventually.
Although over 100 of the girls had since been freed by the terrorists or managed to escape from their den, about 112 were said to still be in captivity by January 2022. Some of the girls were confirmed to have been married off, with children, to the terrorists’ leaders.
Stressing the slavery comparison, Soyinka said, “If I should cite former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, the situation is overwhelming. There is a new era of slavery taking place in Nigeria. It is not a metaphor. We are being sold globally. Nigeria has become a slave depot.
“We supply the material, only that we make it easier. We hand them over in trains, aeroplanes, and schools. We are over-qualified for international assistance, and we should stop hiding under false pride or national integrity.”
Soyinka revealed he had been robbed four times. The most dramatic of the robberies, he narrated, happened in Abeokuta and Lagos. He wondered what information the thieves believed was contained in his laptops and electronic gadgets. He said though the robberies occurred before the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and he sought police intervention, he was yet to receive any report about the incidents from the police.
The literary giant maintained his criticism that the new national secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Iyiola Omisore, was unfit for the office and “compensating him with that position was erroneous on the part of governance and politics.”
He said, “What I am saying is that once you have been involved in a certain form of activity which will lead to the extinction of a good man, you should not be in a certain position in society.
“If Buhari and the APC leadership want to reward someone like Omisore, they should give him an embassy somewhere, maybe in Ukraine. But don’t make him a National Secretary of a ruling party. That is where we are concerned. We are talking about governance and about those in charge of the health and well-being of our society.”
A former colonial police officer and now a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Solomon Asemota, expressed worries about the 2023 elections and the issue of who would succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
Asemota warned against a break-up of the country, saying anyone advising a break-up would be giving bad counselling.
Femi Falana, a senior advocate, who headlined the event, along with Wole Soyinka, stressed that he would defend Soyinka in case the latter’s speech at the event turned into a litigation.
Falana said, “Prof has already dragged me out. So in case he is sued, I have to be his lawyer. I pledge here that if you are sued for exercising your freedom, we would not have you tried like Mubarak Bala. We will defend you free of charge because you are taking up a public interest matter.”