Buhari, Atiku, others celebrate Wole Soyinka at 85

President Muhammadu Buhari and Wole Soyinka (Photo: Bayo Omoboriowo)
President Muhammadu Buhari and Wole Soyinka (Photo: Bayo Omoboriowo)

Many prominent Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari have sent birthday greetings to Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka on his 85th birthday anniversary.

Mr Soyinka, born on July 13, 1934, is a Nigerian playwright, poet and essayist with many accolades to his name.

He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first black man to be honoured in the category.

Mr Soyinka took part in different freedom struggles which led to his arrests during his youthful days.

In 1967 during the Nigerian Civil War, he was arrested by the federal government and put in solitary confinement for two years.

He has been a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments.

In December 2017, he was awarded the Europe Theatre Prize in the “Special Prize” category awarded to someone who has “contributed to the realisation of cultural events that promote understanding and the exchange of knowledge between peoples”

Accolades

President Buhari, in a statement wishing Mr Soyinka well on Saturday, said the sage is ‘a universal brand’.

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A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, revealed that Mr Soyinka did not only excel in the academia but had also earned himself respect for lending his voice at critical moments in the country’s history.

“President Buhari joins family and friends of the cerebral academic in celebrating the many years of laudable achievements, recognition, awards, and consistency, all which have cumulated in pride to Nigerians, Africans and the black race.

“The President salutes Prof Soyinka for his intellectual momentum, interventions on state issues and polity through articles and comments, penchant for justice, and persistence in holding leaders to account.

“As he clocks 85, President Buhari affirms that Prof Soyinka’s lifestyle sends a message to all Nigerians and Africans, especially the younger generation, that real success is measured by the intangibles of courage and impact brought to the life of others, rather than pursuit of personal interests.

“The President congratulates the literary giant for projecting Nigerian and African values to the world, wishing him more years of health, wisdom and service to the nation and humanity,” Mr Buhari said.

Also, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar said Mr Soyinka is a national treasure.

“Happy 85th birthday Professor Oluwole Soyinka. I would have used the word icon to describe you, but you are beyond that. You are an institution. An institution of literary excellence and conscientious activism. A national treasure, you are Nigeria’s pride and a beacon to Africa.

In wishing you many more years of life, I celebrate the fact that, like wine, you are getting better with age. We have a lot to thank you for. From putting us on the Nobel map, to getting FRSC up & running, and expanding the minds of our youth. We can never thank you enough.”

Shehu Sani, former Kaduna senator, said Mr Soyinka is the conscience of the nation.

“Happy 85th Birthday to Professor Wole Soyinka.The Conscience of the Nation.”

Activist, Aisha Yesufu, said the professor has been fighting for Nigeria since his 20s.

“Professor Wole Soyinka is 85 years old. He has been fighting for Nigeria since he was in his 20s and yet some #OxygenWastingCitizens some in their 20s are waiting for him to be the one to speak or protest on their behalf while they hide behind their keypads!” she wrote on Twitter.

Former presidential aspirant, Kingley Moghalu, appreciated Mr Soyinka for endorsing him in the last general election.

“Happy birthday to our global icon, the inimitable, irrepressible Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka as he turns 85 today! Honored to have been endorsed by him to be President of Nigeria. 85 cheers to WS! Here, my letter to him. ⁦⁦@olaokun_s⁩ ⁦@lolashoneyin⁩”.

Other Nigerians have also used different social media platforms to wish Mr Soyinka well.

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