Lagos—Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has broken his silence on the fuel crisis rocking the country, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to fix the problem, rather than engage in trading blames.
In a statement issued in Lagos, Soyinka said: “The government has permitted itself to be fooled by the peace of those empty streets, but also by the orderly, patient, long-suffering queues that are admittedly prevalent in the city centres.”
In the statement titled: ‘Blame passing: The New Year Gift to a Nation’, which was made available to journalists in Lagos, Soyinka reiterated why the government must urgently address the crisis.
He said: “Just getting past fuelling stations was traumatising, an obstacle race through seething, and frustrated masses of humanity, only to find ourselves on vast stretches of emptied roads pleading for occupation. As for obtaining the petroleum in the first place – the less said the better.
“I suspect that this government has permitted itself to be fooled by the peace of those empty streets, but also by the orderly, patient, long-suffering queues that are admittedly prevalent in the city centres.
He also cited the clipping of the 1977 edition of the Daily Times when the then Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Muhammadu Buhari was quoted as saying, “Fuel crisis may be over next year.”
He continued: “It is time the reporting monitors of government moved to city peripheries and sometimes even some other inner urban sectors, such as Ikeja and Maryland from time to time to see, and listen!
“Pronouncements – such as the 1977 above – again re-echoing by rote in 2017– are a delusion at best, a formula that derides public intelligence. Buying time. Passing blame.
“Yes, of course, the current affliction must be remedied, and fast, but is there a dimension to it that must be brought to the fore, simultaneously and forcefully? This had better be the framework for solving even a shortage that virtually paralysed the nation.”
“It is however a masterful end-of-year image to take into the coming year, not only for the individual now at the helm of government, General Buhari, but for a people surely credited with the most astounding degree of patience and forbearance on the African continent – except of course among themselves, when they turn into predatory fiends.
“When many of us are blissfully departed, an updated rendition of this same clipping – with a change of cast here and there – will undoubtedly be reproduced in the media, with the same alibis, the same in-built panacea of blame passing.”
The Professor noted that there were other challenges faced by Nigerians before the present fuel crisis which require immediate fixing, which the government has left unattended to.
Soyinka added, “As the tussle for the next round of power gets hotter in the coming year, the electorate will again be manipulated into losing sight of the base issue… Sooner than later, but not as soon as pledged, the fuel crisis will pass. And then, of course, we shall await the next round of shortages, then a recommencement of blame passing.
“What will be the commodity this time – food perhaps? Maybe even potable water? In a nation of plenty, nothing is beyond eventual shortage – except, of course, the commonplace endowment of pre-emptive planning and methodical execution.”