.Soyinka, Sowore. twitter, Nigerians

By Chukwuma Ajakah

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has called the Nigerian government to respect the universal principles of fundamental human rights by allowing the citizenry to exercise their freedom of movement as occasion demands.

Professor Soyinka made the call at a Media Parley held at Esther’s Revenge, Freedom Park, Lagos on Thursday, October 28, 2021.

Recalling a harrowing experience he had recently trying fly into Nigeria from France the Nobel laureate said: “Nigerians should be allowed to come into their own country through the front door…”

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Wole Soyinka decried a situation where officious government agents would make Nigerians feel like exiles when returning to the country from anywhere in the world, saying: “Not being able to return to your own country is a kind of banishment.

Banishment doesn’t belong to this modern age.” Speaking on the theme, “banishment”, Soyinka remarked that there are two main directions of movement — either you are going out or that you are coming in and by the universal definition of human rights, there should not be any difficulty about citizens exercising their rights to movement irrespective of the vehicle they are using.

Pointing out that he was not against and had in fact complied with government regulations regarding COVID-19 by taking the required vaccines, Soyinka lamented that he considered being made to stay at the airport for three days waiting for clearance to enter his own country an anomaly that must not be allowed to continue. He revealed that the first time he came he was told by immigration and other officials that he needed to take the PCR in addition to the previous vaccination he had taken before coming to Nigeria.

However, after taking the PCR, the Ministry of Health and Internal Affairs officials  insisted that he needed to present another item that the government wanted before I could enter my own country.”  Although he did not name the item which he said was to be generated through a portal, Soyinka decried a system that would subject Nigerians to unnecessary hardship.

According to him, six Air France staff worked tirelessly to generate this permit for three days until he began to consider going to Lome. Before, he could make that move, however, said somebody ran to him, saying: “Good news, you have been given special permission to enter your country.” Rather than accept such preferential treatment as an honour, Soyinka counsels the authorities: “I don’t believe that national should need special permission to enter his or her country.

The restrictions from the ministries of Health and Internal Affairs should include treating Nigerians as criminals or illegal immigrants.”

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