Nigeria: How Corruption Triggers Agitations for Revolution - Soyinka

(file photo).
10 December 2019

Nigeria's foremost writer and Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has blamed corrupt practices of political leaders in Nigeria for the call for revolution in the country.

Mr Soyinka spoke at the 2019 International Anti-Corruption Day organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in collaboration with Nigeria Shippers' Council, held in Abuja on Monday.

Linking the existence of corruption in the country to societal degradation, he said the menace would continue to downplay democratic growth.

"Corruption triggers off numerous collateral activities in institutional conduct and governmental interface with the citizenry, confrontation with its effects is thus plainly transformational.

"This means that, for any corruption degraded society, it should be nothing less than revolutionary in approach -- call it by that or any other word, it is still a revolutionary undertaking. Revolution Now? Or Soon? Later or Whenever?

"An anti-corruption focus is surely integral to any revolutionary agenda, often it constitutes its very trigger -- check any society you wish -- from Cuba through China to Egypt or Myanmar. Corruption is hardly ever omitted in the list of indictments that justify that very undertaking called a revolution. Thus, anti-corruption activism is a conscious, revolutionary offensive that aims at transformation of the totality of the social phenomena," he noted.

He urged the Nigerian government and its agencies to learn how to live with agitation for revolution.

"Those agencies, or governments that permit themselves to be terrified by the word, had better learn to live with it.

"Now we turn our spotlight more specifically on that agency that appears to consider the word treasonable.

"In short, let us embrace the liberating, transformative spirit of -- if not exactly Revolution Now -- then at least, maybe -- Liberation Now?" he said.

Mr Soyinka spoke in relation to the detention of the Sahara Reporters publisher and convener of #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore, who was arrested for calling for protests to demand good governance.

He was released last Thursday but was rearrested the next day during the invasion of the Federal High Court by the SSS agents in Abuja.

Mr Sowore is facing trial on seven counts of treasonable felony, and fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari.

Many activists have condemned the action of the SSS while a coalition of civil society organisations has called for Mr Sowore's release, giving Mr Buhari a 14-day ultimatum to act.

Shrinking democratic freedom

A global index report by CIVICUS, a coalition of civil society groups has shown that Nigeria is shrinking in terms of democratic freedom.

According to the report, Nigeria has slipped from being an "obstructed" nation in 2018 to a "repressed" nation -- the second-worst rating a country can have -- this year.

Nigeria now ranks among 38 other countries with repressed democratic outlook like Madagascar, India, Pakistan, Brunei, Iraq and Turkey.

Corruption, brother to many vices

The Nobel laureate attributed many social vices to corruption, including relation to unresolved murder cases in Nigeria.

Mr Soyinka linked the unresolved murder case of a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, to corrupt forces.

He, however, urged Mr Buhari to produce the report of the investigation he had ordered earlier on the matter.

"If we do not solve some of these murders, we cannot get into the heart, into the core of the corruption in this country and this involves also the authorised and constitutional agency of open society such as the judiciary," Mr Soyinka said.

Corruption still high in Nigeria

Earlier in January, Nigeria was ranked 144 out of 180 countries this year as opposed to 148 out of 180 countries in 2018, a report by Transparency International, a civil society shows.

The reported said, "Nigeria scored 27 out of 100 points in the 2018 CPI, maintaining the same score as in the 2017 CPI."

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