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Obasanjo must go —Soyinka

Posted by By CHRISTIAN ITA on 2007/03/26 | Views: 879 |

Obasanjo must go —Soyinka


Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka says under no circumstances should Nigerians contemplate extending the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka says under no circumstances should Nigerians contemplate extending the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Soyinka was speaking against the backdrop of opinions from certain quarters that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may need more time to conduct the forth-coming elections
Speaking exclusively with Sunday Sun at the weekend, the professor of literature insisted that rather than extend the President’s tenure, the National Assembly could re-order the modalities to allow for the conduct of the entire elections same day.

“I don’t even want to hear anything about the extension of Obasanjo’s tenure. For me that should be at the very bottom of the list of considerations,” he said.

While describing the INEC chairman as incompetent, he said he was unimpressed by the performance of the INEC boss, adding, “I am not even convinced of their sincerity. I am not sure that this INEC has not been set up to waste the nation’s money like the Babangida’s interminable transition programme where elections were cancelled one after the other.”

He also spoke on other issues such as the decision of the Senate to adjourn after receiving the report of its review committee on the Petroleum and Technology Development Fund (PTDF) among others. Excerpts:

Sir, what do you make of the decision of the senate to adjourn after setting the nation on fire over the PTDF report?
It is one of the strangest decisions of supposedly responsible people that I ever encountered. I can’t think of a more preposterous idea. In other words, it is something condemnable.

The Senate President said on Wednesday that the Presidency should be saved and that he was ready to do anything to preserve it. Do you think that is justified?
I read the interview and I could not really understand why it was necessary for him to say that. I think we all have a stake in whatever institutions that are symbolic of the nation itself and the Presidency is exactly that. However, I think that truth and probity should be rated above what I should call “white washing” decisions. That is what he implied in the statement.

He seemed to indicate that he alone could act to redeem the integrity of an office. That is what I found very troubling.
Given the sordid details of the report, what do you make of the Obasanjo Presidency vis-a-vis moral legitimacy?
I do not want to comment on that just yet. I want the drama to be played out. I have spoken from time to time on very serious errors and infractions and even attitudes which to me, have contributed to the degradation of the Presidency. These include disobedience of court orders, attempting to extend his tenure of office beyond the constitutional allowance. But it is not time to summarize the plus and minuses of this President yet. One needs to have a little detachment in terms of time to weigh his entire performance as objectively as possible.

Sir, a group of friends of President Obasanjo, including Andrew Young are promoting him for the Nobel Prize for peace. Being a Nobel winner yourself, how do you feel about this?
My discipline is literature. So, Nobel Peace Prize is not my discipline.

I have no authority over that. All I can say is that knowing what I do know of the Nobel institution, it would weigh very carefully, the record, performances and even the potentials of candidates are always taken into consideration. I would say that Andrew Young and company are quite free to propose anybody they want.
Would you endorse Obasanjo if for instance, your views were sought?
One thing I would say is that I would not take a decision based on sentiments. I will look at the merits and demerits of the candidate very objectively.

Elections are less than a month away, are you impressed with preparations so far by the relevant authorities?
No, I am not impressed by Iwu’s performance at all. I am not even convinced of their sincerity. I am not sure that this INEC has not been set up to waste the nation’s money like the Babangida’s interminable transition programme where elections were cancelled one after the other. I am trying to get to Iwu a copy of letter written by a coalition of political parties and movements, a copy of which has been delivered to the Senate President. In it, you would see that the points against Iwu’s management of this procedure are very meticulously laid. Iwu has already insulted the provisions of the Electoral Law in many ways. It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives did not pass that vote of no confidence, which came up a couple of days ago.

Given the shoddy preparations, do you think an extension of Obasanjo’s tenure is an option?
I don’t even want to hear anything about the extension of Obasanjo’s tenure. For me, that should be at the very bottom of the list of considerations. However, maybe the National Assembly could make a reversal of the methodologies. In other words, having all elections same day. But Iwu is defiant and contemptuous of legal authority. It is the arrogance of an incompetent man, which is unfortunate.

Last week, the Senate came up with the idea of trying to insulate the EFCC from the control of the Presidency. It came up with a number of recommendations that would further democratise the membership of EFCC. What do you make of it?
Anything that can be done to make EFCC completely autonomous with an autonomous budget etc is welcomed. To me, EFCC represents one of the good points of the Obasanjo administration. It is true some of its tactics have been unpalatable. But that is not to remove from its symbolism as an institution. Any measure that would make it better is okey to me.

President Obasanjo recently described the forth-coming elections as “do- or-die.” We are already seeing symptoms of that with people getting machetted and all that. Are you comfortable about this?
I have a feeling that from time to time, in the quiet of his home, Obasanjo must have cause many times to bite his tongue. I think that after he said that he must have bitten his tongue several times. I am confident he would not repeat it.

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Comments (3)

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown