Professor Wole Soyinka has thrown his weight behind agitators for a sovereign state of Biafra and Oduduwa Republic, saying that secession is “their natural right as free citizens”.
Professor Soyinka made the remarks in a statement wherein he criticised the use of brute force against the agitators of self-determination.
Insisting that it is the responsibility of the leadership to persuade the agitators, he said:
“It is time to think outside the box. That many, in so doing, find no landing place except dissolution, is not a crime.
“It is not peculiar to any peoples, and is embedded in the ongoing history of many, and not only on this continent.
“It is their natural right as free citizens, not slaves of habit and indoctrination.
“Where disillusion rides high, sentiment tumbles earthwards, and the only question becomes: what can be salvaged?
“It thus remains the responsibility of leadership to persuade them, through both discourse and remedial action, that there are other options.
“Attempted bullying is not a language of discourse, nor the facile ploy of tarring all birds with the same feather,” he said.
On President Muhammadu Buhari’s genocidal threat, Soyinka said that he was not in support of those killing and destroying government’s properties.
“All over the world, throughout history, elections are denounced, boycotted, and generally delegitimized without recourse to wanton butchery.
“When, however, a Head of State threatens to ‘shock’ civilian dissidents, to ‘deal with them in the language they understand’, and in a context that conveniently brackets opposition to governance with any bloodthirsting enemies of state, we have to call attention to the precedent language of such a national leader under even more provocative, nation disintegrative circumstances.
“What a pity, and what a tragic setting, to discover that this language was accessible all the time to President Buhari, where and when it truly mattered, when it would have been not only appropriate, but deserved and mandatory!
“When Benue was first massively brought under siege, with the massacre of innocent citizens, the destruction of farms, mass displacement followed by alien occupation, Buhari’s language – both as utterance and as what is known as ‘body language’ – was of a totally different temper.
“It was diffident, conciliatory, even apologetic.
“After much internal pressure, he eventually visited the scene of slaughter. His language? ‘Learn to live peacefully with your neighbours’.
“The expected language, rationally and legitimately applied to the aggressors, was exactly what we now hear – ‘I shall shock you. I shall deal with you in the language you understand,’” he said.