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“What can we do to make the Igbo feel part of the country, not alienated – Wole Soyinka

Valentine Chinyem

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Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has advised the Government not to keep a close eye on the Biafra protest, saying “Nigeria is indivisible”, “This won’t happen under my watch,” “Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable” would not help matters.

Soyinka added that the agitation did not come to him as a surprise.

Further more, he defended his choice of President Muhammadu Buhari as a better candidate, in last April polls.

Speaking on Channels Television last night, Soyinka said agitation for Biafra will never go away as Biafra is an idea, even if the war has ended.

He said: “I remember I wrote an article during the war and I said at that time that Biafra cannot be defeated. People misunderstood what I was saying. I said once an idea has taken hold, you cannot destroy that idea. You may destroy the people that carry the idea on the battlefield, but, ultimately, it is not the end of the story.”

He said instead of government issuing threats to Biafran agitators, it should rather go to the South East and find out why they are agitating for another country and see what it could do to remedy the situation.

He said the attitude of the government should be to sit down with the those leading the renewed agitation and ask: “What can we do to make the Igbo feel part of the country, what can we do to make them to feel that they belong and not alienated.
“Go into that environment and ask what are those things we can do to make you content, to make you feel part of this entity. Listen to some other Biafrans and ask them why they want to stay. But, don’t go around saying ‘the sovereignty of this country is indivisible, it is not negotiable.’ That type of language would only make matters worse,” Soyinka said.

He added that the agitation for Biafra has made it imperative for Nigerians to take yet another look at restructuring the country.

On Buhari’s election, Soyinka said his preference for the president, during electioneering, was borne out of his conviction that he was a better candidate. He said the situation in the country was such that he reckoned that another four years of Jonathan could be disastrous for the country.

“At that time, we had reached the bottom. I believed that if the country underwent another four years under Jonathan, we could be in trouble. I then looked at Buhari. I talked to people They said he had changed.”

He said he had weighed the options, knowing that the negatives on Buhari were his excesses.

“I don’t like people who just jail others. Very reluctantly, I weighed the option and was convinced that the country would be better under Buhari,” he said.

The Nobel Laureate said his conviction was based on the fact that Buhari could not be worse than Abacha, declaring: “I said if he deviated, we will fight him. Look at what is coming out , the rot. You can see we didn’t make a mistake.”