My grouse with Obasanjo, Buhari – Soyinka

The Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka
The Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka

A Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has described a former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, as a ‘hypocrite’ who has crossed the red line several times.

Mr Obasanjo is “one of the greatest hypocritical leaders this nation ever had” the laureate said on Friday.

He was speaking at a conversation with journalists at the international Press Institute (IPI) world congress holding at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

The comments came as response to a question from a member of the audience on why Mr Soyinka ‘hates’ Mr Obasanjo and a former military head of state, Sani Abacha.

First, Mr Soyinka criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for posing an anti-corruption posture and yet honouring a leader like late Mr Abacha.

“If I’m walking on the street and I see a statue raised in honour of a torturer, a murderer and thief so recognised by the entire world, that we are still chasing his loot. His loot is still surfacing all over the world. And then, i’m driving on the street and I see a structure in honour of that person, I have the responsibility to tell this President you cannot be serious about corruption if you build monuments in remembrance of that of that leader.”

Mr Soyinka made similar comments on June 12 during the conferment of honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on widely acclaimed winner of the 1993 election, Moshood Abiola.

Mr Abiola was imprisoned by the Abacha government and eventually died in prison.

Mr Soyinka asked the president to stop ‘creating confusion” in the minds of Nigerians’ as ‘it is not possible to honour MKO Abiola in one breath and then admire his tormentor in another breath.”

Mr Abacha was Nigeria’s 10th military head of state. He served as the Nigerian leader from November 17, 1993 till June 8, 1998. His government was marred by rampant corruption and human rights abuses, especially the hanging of activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, one of several executions of Ogoni activists who opposed the exploitation of resources in their enclaves.

While Messrs Abiola and Obasanjo were jailed for treason, Mr Soyinka was charged in absentia with treason.

In his attack on Mr Obasanjo, Mr Soyinka said the two-time civilian president is not in a good position to lead a third political force in the country.

“Obasanjo has really crossed the red line because he’s trying to put himself at the helm of a recovery process. He kind of hijacked the recovery process, in decision, and I see that he is one of the least worthy former head of states to lead that kind of process.”

Mr Soyinka said his views on Mr Obasanjo have been documented in a book titled ‘Who watches the watchman.’

He said the book will be launched on July 3 at Freedom Park, Lagos.

“That publication is coming out simply because I will have to see new blood in governance and I think the corrupt hypocritic variety should stop recycling itself.

“They should stop trying to co-opt their former cronies to take over the reins of governance in this country.”

Mr Obasanjo in a letter to President Buhari in January proposed a Third Force to break the hegemony of the country’s two major parties.

“Obasanjo is one of the greatest hypocritical leaders this nation ever had,” Mr Soyinka said.

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