Leadership (Abuja)

3 July 2014

Nigeria: Carnage From Boko Haram Attacks Cannot Break Up Nigeria - Soyinka

Photo: Books Live
Professor Wole Soyinka

Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has said that despite the carnage from Boko Haram's continued terrorist attacks that dwarfed that of the Nigeria civil war, the insurgence is incapable of splitting the country.

The literary giant, who spoke with newsmen in his country home in Abeokuta, emphasised that despite the nation's suffering at the hands of the terrorist group, its provocation will only teach Nigerians some moral lessons.

Soyinka, surrounded by traditional wooden sculptures of Yoruba deities, said that the horror will strengthen national cohesiveness.

He noted that the horrors inflicted by the militants had shown Nigerians across ethnic and religious divides that sticking together might be the only way to avoid even greater sectarian slaughter.

Soyinka emphasised that the bloodshed was now worse than during the 1967-70 Nigeria-Biafra war, when a secessionist attempt by the then Eastern Region almost tore Nigeria up into ethnic regions.

"We have never been confronted with butchery on this scale, even during the civil war," he stated. "There were atrocities (during Biafra) but we never had such a near-predictable level of carnage and this is what is horrifying."

The writer, who was imprisoned for two years in solitary confinement by the military regime during the war on charges of aiding Biafra, disagreed with commentators' prediction that the intensity of the conflict may split the country.

"I think, ironically, it's less likely now. For the first time, a sense of belonging is predominating. It's either we stick together now or we break up, and we know it would be not in a pleasant way."

Counter-insurgency: Civil Defence, Army review operational method

As part of efforts to resolve the Boko Haram crisis in the northern part of the country, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Nigerian Army yesterday commenced a three-day security summit to review the tactics so far employed to curtail the ugly phenomenon.

LEADERSHIP gathered that the summit has been prompted by the realisation that the lack of creativity by security agencies in handling the crisis will have grave consequences for the corporate existence of Nigeria, as unpatriotic and undemocratic elements have historically seized such moments to destabilise the polity.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the meeting, the commandant-general of the Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Prof Ade Abolurin, explained that the summit was essential in the war against terrorism.

He insisted that security agencies, especially the Corps, would not hand over victory to insurgents, as ideas and efforts to place them ahead of the dreaded terrorist have been outlined. This is even as he pleaded that the bottlenecks associated with effective service delivery of field officers should be urgently addressed for maximum results.

The three-day summit attracted Civil Defence commandants from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, the representative of the chief of army staff, Brig. General Chris Olukolade, and representatives of the Ministry of Interior and its parastatals.

Boko Haram out to Islamize Nigeria - CAN

The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, has reiterated that the underlining factor for the deadly Boko Haram massacres in Nigeria is based on religion and plans to Islamize Nigeria. Poverty is not the reason, he said.

Oritsejafor, who spoke at the Christians Elders Forum of Northern States (NOSCEF) National Conference 2014 in Abuja with the theme "Voices Against Violence", said that Boko Haram is a phase of problems that have always been in the north.

According to the CAN president, who said he believes in the unity of Nigeria, truth is the foundation of every relationship and it must be told because Boko Haram terrorists are out to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria.

"As Nigerians, we must face the truth that the underlining factor of Boko Haram is religion, an ideology. There must be a superior ideology to counter it by Muslim clerics who they believe in.

"The Muslim leadership must raise clerics that the sect believe in to show them that Boko Haram is wrong, not just saying that Islam does not support violence," he said.

Also the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who also spoke at the conference, said that religion is a power force that could easily be manipulated and should not be the centre of political choices.

Welby, who was represented by the secretary for inter-religious affairs for the Church of England, assured Christians that Nigeria is in the prayer lists of many people around the world.

"One of our prayers for all of us involved in this critical situation is that religion does not become central in the political choices that we make. We are so aware that although most religious people are people of peace, religion is such a power force that is easy to manipulate by some politicians, who will like to use it for their own advantage.

"Religion can end up blinding us to both the good and the bad politics of political candidates. We have seen that in the UK where religion is used by politicians for an agenda which is not for the benefit of all.

"And what we are discovering in Britain is the need for leaders who can be driven by the best religious value. We will allow the best values from our religious faith to dictate how we are going to do in the political arena. We are going to work for the common good of all people, whatever our religious background," he stated.

The chairman of NOSCEF, Olaiya Phillips, who lamented that over 2,000 Christians have been killed in northern Nigeria this year, demanded that the federal government and the military start putting effective pressure on Boko Haram to stop killing innocent Nigerians.

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Professor Wole Soyinka

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has stated that the country is suffering greater carnage at the hands of extremist group Boko Haram than it did during a secessionist civil war. Read more »