At Kingâ€™s College Centenary Banquet:Soyinka traces origin of Boko Haram
By Emmanuel Edukugho
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, took a swipe at Nigeriaâ€™s leaders and political elites for the socio-political and economic decline of the country, including the reckless, wanton violation of the peopleâ€™s rights, while speaking Sunday night at the centenary banquet to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of Kingâ€™s College, Lagos.
As Guest Speaker, he held the distinguished audience spell-bound for nearly two hours as he reeled out the iniquities, abuses, murders, religious bigotry, political oppression, violence and other vicissitudes that the Nigerian people are being subjected to by their leaders.
Soyinka, who titled his well-laid out presentation as â€œPrecursor of Boko Haramâ€, said what has happened recently in the north as regards the violent agitation against western education seen by a religious, group as sin had been existing before in the country.
He recalled the incident at University of Ibadan when an education minister tried to deal with the Vice Chancellor over the location of a mosque and this had to do with religion.
He noted that when after all said and done, both the cross and the crescent are standing on the campus and there was no eruption, no earthquake. â€œIt almost triggered a religious war in University of Ibadan.â€
He recalled the amity between his old school Government College, Ibadan, and a sister college, Kingsâ€™s College, Lagos, who both were rivals in the game of cricket and excelled, and how it happened he is to give this address at the 100th year anniversary.
â€œFor me, cricket was traumatic. I travelled to Lagos, Warri, Umuahia, Ughelli not lifting a ball, but just writing down results. Cricket is one game, unlike election, cannot be rigged. Let the self-righteous chairman of INEC take cricket to mind.
Justice Akpata should be lamenting in his grave. When Abel Guobadia writes his memoirs, this will be more illuminating than that of Henry Nwosu.â€
He recalled the 1945 strike and the consequences on students of Kingâ€™s College, pointing out that the insurrection at Kingâ€™s College led to expulsion of some students while others were conscripted into the colonial British Army.
Soyinka commended Kingâ€™s College for admitting people from all parts of the country. There was no discrimination but tolerance. The same is true of Government College Ibadan, and Abeokuta Grammar School in which applicants were admitted on merit.
It was religious tolerance based on Christian enthusiasm. â€œWe had a\ truly liberal education at Abeokuta Grammar School, Government College, Ibadan and Kingâ€™s College, Lagos.â€
He said: â€œWhat is the essence of Boko Haram? How did it happen, what caused it and why? Social inequality caused such eruptions. But how do we explain this?â€
The Nobel Laureate referred to the 200 buses bought for carrying women only by the Zamfara government as â€œBoko Haram in spirit.â€ A school teacher, seized by her students, taken away from the classroom and burnt to death.
â€œI have continued to ask this question why it happened and nothing done ever since. It is untenable. When they say the assailants are social delinquents, I canâ€™t believe.â€
He recalled that many years ago in this Lagos, Apalara was murdered for preaching against evils. He was killed by cult people. His killers were tried, found guilty and condemned to death.
Trying to stone a woman to death for adultery.
â€œThen what has happened to equity?â€
In Rwanda, children were killed from other faiths. â€œIt is still happening. Serial violation of rights. Butchers of mind and body butchers in our nation. So much of criminality, incitement to murder.â€ The reporter in the Miss World contest who had to run away for fear of being killed.
There was the killing of Oluwatoyin in Gombe. Impunity killings.
These are the precursors of Boko Haram â€” fanaticism. There are snippers here in Lagos ready to swoop on people.
Religious riots have escalated since Zamfara State introduced Sharia. Then the fight between the Federal Government and the Lagos State government over the creation of local governments. Does the creation of more local councils affect security, or the rights of other people or cause harm to anyone!
â€œJust as what Fela will call Rofo Rofo fight between FG and Lagos State.â€
There are extra-judicial killings by the police. They are talking about electoral reforms. There is education decay, security issues, review of the constitutions.
Soyinka said that the 200 buses purchased in Zamfara for use by women exclusively so as not to mix with men in public transport were from money got in Niger Delta, VAT by people who buy alcohol, etc in Lagos State and the internally generated revenue of Zamfara.
Nigerians are conscripted to fight the war of darkness, the war of poverty, of homelessness, of starvation, war of corruption, security, armed robbery, kidnapping, of hunger.
He called on Labour, civil societies and the people to fight against oppressive rule and tyranny.
Government, members of the House of Representatives, Senators are representing no one but themselves. Let us conscientise the struggle.