From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Nobel Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka warned Nigerians on Saturday against accepting kidnapping of school children in parts of the north as a way of life.
Soyinka has suggested that residents of states where abductions of school children are rife shut down the states in protest.
Making reference to the abduction of over 300 students in Zamfara State by bandists, Soyinka who, lamented that the government and security agencies have failed Nigerians, said he did not know what else to recommend as a solution to what he called the country’s ‘abnormal times’.
The playwright spoke in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, at the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Ogun Award Lecture and Public Presentation of ‘Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth,’ his latest book.
The event was put together by the Ogun State chapter of the ANA in collaboration with the Abeokuta Club.
‘It is important that we remind ourselves and stress that these are abnormal times… We cannot permit ourselves to accept the child hostage taking as a way of life, we just cannot continue in this fashion, something drastic and meaningful has to take place and it has to be collective,’ Soyinka said at the event.
‘This is no longer the responsibility of those at the top, in charge of security, in charge of governance, they have clearly failed the populace, they have failed us, there is no point trying to reason it up, trying to give an excuse, putting blame or whatever. The important thing is that we are very close to accepting a culture of the unacceptable.
‘…I think we are reaching the point where in any state where any child is kidnapped that state should shut down completely and other states in sympathy, solidarity should shut down some of their activities. We should not wait for an enemy faceless, airbone unpredictable enemy like COVID-19 to make us shut down, to say in protest, and as a statement of the unacceptable we are shutting ourselves down until this situation is resolved
‘I think we have reached the point where when our children are taken away from us, we should as least for some time shut down, it sounds extreme but we don’t know what else one can propose at this particular time. Yes, life must go on but even those activities will generate and enhance our very existence. I think we have to take on a tonality of regrets, of the unacceptable, protestation and mobilisation on whatever level it is possible as a community of human beings.
‘…This is what worries me, this movement towards accepting as a way of life the absence of the young generation compelled, enforced and forced absence of our own children,’ Soyinka said.