By Bolaji Buhari
Lagos – Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday condemned the spate of killings and kidnappings in several parts of the country.
Soyinka made the condemnation in Lagos while speaking at a programme “The Ripples Dialogue :Rebuilding a Divided Nigeria. ”
He described wanton killings of innocent Nigerians by criminals and herdsmen as “homicidal fiesta”, saying the situation was unfortunate.
Soyinka said the government’s response to the security challenges was poor, especially those associated with herdsmen.
He said it was bad for herdsmen to invade and kill people across communities in the country to graze their cattle.
“The Lake Chad Basin is receding.The water is drying up. But that should not be a reason for herdsmen to attack people in Bayelsa, down in Oyo and Ogun, that should never be an excuse,”he said.
Soyinka also condemned the abduction of school girls in Daphchi in Yobe State by Boko Haram members .
He said that the abduction would have been prevented if those saddled with ensuring security in the school had done the right thing.
The Nobel laureate described Boko Haram as “blood sucking “, saying their activities are a threat to humanity.
On the myriads of problems facing the country, Soyinka said Nigeria would be a better country if leaders were committed to service and the welfare of the people.
The Nobel Laureate, however, said the followership also had its share of blame for some of the problems.
He said working nations were not built by leaders alone but by good followers too.
On the “shit hole” remark made by President Donald Trump about Nigeria and some other countries, Soyinka said the American president latched on the numerous problems in the country.
According to him, if Nigerians had made the country work, Trump would not have had the opportunity to use such derogatory term to refer to the country.
Soyinka, however, said he was not disappointed by President Trump’s comment as he had always seen him as not fit for the office.
The Nobel laurate condemned a bill being proposed by the National Assembly prescribing death penalty for those who made hate speeches.
He said the bill was an attempt by the lawmakers to silence speech so that they could be immune to scathing criticisms.
While describing hate speeches as “dangerous and destructive” , he said hanging people was not the right punishment.
“Hate speech is bad and destructive, but do I want anybody hanged? No, I would rather want people shamed, “he said.
Soyinka also urged the government at all levels to be alive to their responsibility.
In his contribution, Dr Reuben Abati, immediate past Special Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity, said there was a disconnect between leadership and followership in the country .
He attributed the disconnect to the mistrust between the two, in the light of failure of leadership to deliver the goods.
Abati urged leaders to discharge their responsibilities to the people, not only to earn the trust of their followers, but also to promote the development in the country. (NAN)