Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Laureate said yesterday that it was time Nigeria rose above impunity and drew the line against inhumanity.
Soyinka deplored the recent killing of a student, Deborah Samuel, by a mob in Sokoto for alleged blasphemy, describing it as the latest example of religious-inspired barbarity in the country.
“We have already paid, and are still paying too high a price for the culture of Appeasement and Impunity. Let it end now, in Affirmative Action,” he said, citing previous killings for alleged blasphemy in Kano and Bauchi states.
He spoke in Abuja at the launch of the memorial publication on the late Chief of Army Staff, General Ibrahim Attahiru.
Although he acknowledged the condemnation of the killing by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Sultan of Sokoto who also serves as the Amir of Nigerian moslems, women organisations, workers’ unions and professionals from all walks of life, he deplored the Chief Imam of the National Mosque, Abuja, Professor Ibrahim Maqari and a few others for allegedly justifying the Sokoto lynching.
He said: “To anyone who cares to listen, Maqari has implicitly directed his followers to take the law into their own hands in the name of religion, and in a nation beset on all sides by wars of ultra-nationalism and religious fanaticism. That is the message of a supposedly holy man to youths, to us, his message to a nation embroiled in a madness of multiple insurgencies.”
Soyinka said the imam should be removed from office and tried “under any existing laws that approximate hate rhetoric, incitement to murder and abuse of office.”
He added: “We have gone beyond theocratic rhetoric that merely pays lip service to civilized norms. Let all pietistic denunciations be backed by affirmative action.”
On the security challenges in the country, Soyinka called for what he called off-beat, lateral thinking, new constructs outside orthodox boxes of military engagement.
He said: “Let no one imagine that the ongoing insurgency will forever remain within its present borders. It spreads. It contaminates. It breeds mutations in the least expected places.
“To anticipate, and prepare, is not even military thinking but the urging of common sense – and that, is universal territory.’
But he explained that his call for total mobilization “is not meant to expand the military as a career but to induce its social integration as a calling.”
He said: “The entirety of national life, lifestyle, priorities, urgently demands re-designing to respond, holistically, to the exigencies of current abnormalities.
“The much-touted, consistently sidelined, willfully misrepresented call for National Restructuring, for instance, as well as proposals for state and community policing, are only alternative and/or partial expressions of this holistic and urgent imperative.
“We continue to ignore it at the peril of total, messy, irreversible disintegration.”
General Attahiru died last year in Kaduna when his plane from the Air Force fleet exploded as it landed at the airport.