By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT— NOBEL laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, yesterday, questioned the rationale behind the celebration of the nation’s 50th independence anniversary. Soyinka, who spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as guest lecturer at an anniversary programme, organised by the Rivers State government, said the unity of the country 50 years down the line was not enough to roll out the drums.
The literary giant, who spoke on: “Renaissance Vision: Between potential and fulfilment,” lamented the depth of poverty in the country. Noting that the gap between potentials and fulfilment in the country was too wide, he challenged Nigerian leadership to seek better reasons for why Nigerians should celebrate its 50th anniversary.
He decried the spate of kidnapping in the country, saying at the moment, it lacked inhibition. The celebrated scholar, who took time to dwell extensively on some contemporary socio- political philosophies in Africa, such as Ujaama,propagated by late Julius Nyerere, negritude among others, said any government that failed to provide food for its citizens was a failure.
“Is it true when commentators say that Nigeria is blessed with potentials? The right of staying together as a country is worth celebrating but I find this embarrassing. I have raised the questions, what and when is a nation. We should find genuine need for celebration. There is a gap between potentials and fulfilment ,”
One of the discussants at the event, an eminent historian, Professor emeritus,Tekena Tamuno, disagreed slightly with Soyinka. He said though the nation may not have achieved its post colonial desires, but its unity was enough to celebrate, stressing that all hope was not lost. “Having Nigeria as one is good. When there life, there is hope.”
Tekena, who also lamented the failures of the nation 50 years after its independence, said it was mind buggling that the nation was still grappling with issues that had long been overcome by those that had independence almost the same time with her.
He cited India as an example, which he said is just 13 years older than Nigeria, yet it has a very strong economy.