Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has warned Nigerians against reprisal attacks in the wake of last week’s bomb attacks in Kano and Bauchi.
Prof. Soyinka made this appeal, Monday, during a town hall meeting organized by the Save Nigeria Group, in Lagos.
“I want to reiterate the appeal Chinua Achebe, JP Clark, and myself made when Boko Haram began their activities…” said the Nobel Laureate, adding that the agenda of Boko Haram are to push the patience of Nigerians to the limit and “for neighbour to turn against neighbour.”
“Whatever the route you take to understand Boko Haram, do not for one single moment consider reprisals against your neighbour,” said Prof. Soyinka, who began his address with a thank you to “fellow subsidy-challenged Nigerians.”
‘A compact nation’
Prof. Soyinka while warning against ethnic sentiments added that the events of the last two weeks have succeeded in creating a “more compact nation.”
“If you do not believe in a particular cause, the least you can do is to stay silent and stay away,” he said. “Do not belittle it to ethnic or sectarian…. Please do not depress the rest of us.”
The town hall meeting which began with a one-minute silence in honour of those that lost their lives in the Kano bomb blasts had dozens of barrel-chested men patrolling in and outside the hall.
In his presentation ‘Private Sector Perspective on Burning Economic Issues Affecting the Nation,’ Henry Boyo, an economist, hinged the failure of the nation’s economy on “a faulty monetary framework.”
“Fuel if properly managed should not go for more than N10 or N20 per litrem,” said Mr. Boyo.
“The problem is not the price of crude oil. It is the exchange rate. The problem is the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) capturing our foreign exchange in Dollars and putting Naira into the system.”
Mr. Boyo said that such a move by the CBN is not “only unconstitutional” but also fuels corruption in the system.
Our votes; their power
Pastor Tunde Bakare, in his address titled ‘How Power Works’ likened bank deposits to votes whereby after a bank account is opened, one becomes subject to the dictates of the bank.
“Ten years ago, there was no power for Goodluck Jonathan to command soldiers to occupy anywhere in Nigeria until we gave him the power,” said Mr. Bakare, the convener of the Save Nigeria Group.
“Anyone running for office, you should check their past and present. Check their mental states….”
Mr. Bakare maintained that his group is not against the federal government’s deregulation policy but insisted that “prosecution of corrupt public officers must be brought to the front burner.
“We must also demand for restitution, that they must put back what was taken away from the public coffers.”
He added that a proper legislation and a provision of incentives to the poor prior to the removal of the subsidy would have given the poor masses a soft landing.
“I saw two placards during the course of the protests, one in Abuja and one in Lagos….they read ‘One day the poor will have nothing to eat but the rich.
“And that reminded me of a proverb the poor man cannot sleep because he is hungry and the rich man cannot sleep because the poor man is awake.”
There was a brief interlude as upcoming artiste, Fakoya Qudus, came on stage to render his song ‘Subsidy,’ which was first performed during the mass protest at Ojota.
“We get garri for house, we dey import eba from the next house,” sang Qudus, whose stage name is Q Dot.
Femi Anikulapo Kuti, son of the late Afro beat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, noted that his songs, as well as those of his late father, describe the sufferings people are going through.
“As a teenager, I witnessed my father living in and out of prisons,” said Femi.
“I’ll be 50 in a few months and the sufferings have added 50 times,” he said.
“People are still smiling.”