- Warns Citizens Against Accepting Kidnapping As A Way Of Life
By Abiola Olawale
Prof. Wole Soyinka, a Nobel Laureate has advised Nigerians to ‘shut down activities’ in solidarity with abductees should any incidence of child abduction be recorded again in the country.
“I think we are reaching the point where in any State where any child is kidnapped that state should shut down completely,” Soyinka said, adding that Nigerians should not wait for an “unpredictable enemy like COVID-19” before shutting down activities.
Soyinka said this on Saturday, while reacting to the lastest abduction of 317 students from Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS), Jangebe, Zamfara State.
The playwright spoke at the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), conference in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital where an award lecture and public presentation of his latest book: ‘Chronicles of the happiest people on earth,’ was held.
He warned Nigerians against accepting kidnapping of children in parts of the north as a way of life, adding that Nigerians must come together to collectively fight against banditry and the ongoing war against child’s education in the country.
Soyinka’s reaction comes as 24 students, 6 school staff and their 8 family members kidnapped from a Kagara school in Niger state regained freedom early Saturday after spending 10 days in bandits’ custody.
Speaking further, the Nobel Laureate further criticized the actions of Bello Matawalle, Governor of Zamfara State and Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, a renowned Islamic Cleric, who have been romancing the bandits despite their alleged involvement in various criminalities reported across the country.
Soyinka stated that the government must be proactive in solving the security challenges battling the country, warning against the payment of ransom to bandits in a bid to free abductees.
He further charged Nigerians to come together to put an end to criminality across the country.
His comments go thus: “It is important that we remind ourselves and stress that these are abnormal times but it seems to me any way as times of shirking of responsibilities in key areas. We can not permit ourselves to accept the child hostage taking as a way of life, we just can not continue in this fashion, some thing drastic and meaningful has to take place and it has to be collective. 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.
“A few years ago at FUNAAB I accepted an honorary doctorate, I did warn that I was tired of these awards, let me just put this way, awards become burdensome and I said at the time, this is the last doctorate I will be accepting from any institution and I am accepting this one only because it is our own award and I warned them that they should all bear me witness that anytime I would be declining another award I would tell them go and ask them in Abeokuta, I have already made a statement and I must keep to it otherwise I won’t be allowed to return to Abeokuta. Events like this for me propagate the positive in existence, I think we are obliged somehow to swallow our pride and come together as productive and determined human beings especially as a community. Has it got to be COVID-19 that we take stringent actions, is it going to be an abnormality like COVID-19 that compels us to shut down if necessary and I mean shut down, 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 shut down, 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 taking 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. It is not either a day of too much negativity but we are paying a price and consequence with permanence of those scars in our collective psyche that 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 concluded.