Professor Wole Soyinka has said that President Muhammadu Buhari behaved “exactly like former President Goodluck Jonathan” in his response to herdsmen killings in some parts of Nigeria.

This is just as he said that his generation has not done enough for the future of Nigeria.

Buhari and Soyinka

Soyinka speaking on a BBC programme, “Hard Talk.” anchored by Zeinab Badawi, said the dreams people of his generation had about the country have not materialised.

Asked: “Has your generation of older Nigerians failed the people?”

Soyinka said: “Yes, I believe so. “I compare today with dreams and aspirations we had when we all rushed home after studies abroad. We considered ourselves the renaissance people that are going to lift the continent to world standards, competitors anywhere. It hasn’t happened.”

Soyinka commenting on the 2019 presidential election, Soyinka said: “The 2019 election is one of the most depressing elections we’ve been through. Talking for myself, it wasn’t possible for me to make a choice for the simple reason that both candidates (President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar) both had histories— one immediate, one past —which made one look for alternatives.”

“General Buhari didn’t really win the first election, he won by default. It was impossible to continue with Jonathan (back in 2015),”

Soyinka further said: “As it happened, yes, I did use that expression ‘born again democrat’. When somebody competes in an election three, four times and persists, he must believe in democracy… the circumstances in Nigeria, the fact that Nigerians have shown the military what a huge failure they were makes it possible for one to identify the possibility of exceptions when they seem to behave like Democrats.

“But in any case, I kept emphasising that Nigerians had a very difficult choice and as I said, It was between the devil and the deep blue sea.”

Asked if he believes that salvation of Nigeria lies in the hand of the young

Soyinka said: “I want us to define young very carefully. Talking about young minds there are some young people who are very old who, in fact, are compromised worse than even the rulers. Am talking about those with fresh vision, those who feel ashamed of what Nigeria is today, who are not complacent, who have travelled the world a bit and seen how things are done and achieved in other places and analysed the problem of Nigeria and not contempt to continue with the old method of governance, principles, who get their priorities right.

“When we started encouraging the young people to come out there was one person spearheading the movement, they could have come out with a consensus candidate, but the movement one of the old … hijacked the movement simply because he wanted to be at the head of government.

Soyinka said: “Now we get to the larger problem and at the heart of it indisputably, we have the issue of corruption it is a humongous issue.

“And I frankly despise those who tried to trivialised it because they do not like that face of those or the man behind it or he has failed in other respect but it is no longer business as usual in Nigeria you have bankers who are on trials, you have legislatures, who are on trails. You have former governors the moment they stepped out of office they were grabbed by the anti-corruption agencies they are standing trails so there is a change in as far as corruption is concerned.”

On corruption as far as I am concerned Buhari has scored a pass. The young generation has got to be made to understand that the country is their’s and they must wipe out the deficit of former leadership.

“And when you start operating a theocracy a movement will get up and say you are not holy enough and begin by killing first of all those who do not belong to the faith and then turn on even his own, co believe and say you are not holy enough I am going to kill you. And this is what happens with Boko Haram. You had a president you said for instance at one time any attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the north. Well, he barely escaped death and he changed his tone. Leaders should not wait for things to happen to them personally.

On Buhari’s progress on Boko Haram
“He (Buhari) certainly has made progress but then another menace (Speaking on the Fulani herdsmen and farmers clash) came up and Buhai made the same mistake of slow response.

“Buhari has failed in that respect because he did not act, he behaved exactly like Jonathan, he was apathetic.”


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