Nigeria: We Must Shut Down Govt Until Abducted Children Are Rescued - Soyinka

A young girl writes on a chalkboard at a primary school in Nigeria (file photo).
28 February 2021

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wọlé Soyinka has suggested that any state of the federation, where a child is kidnapped should shut down governments or operation until the victim is rescued.

Soyinka, a poet and playwright, also challenged other states to shut down some of their activities in solidarity with their counterparts that had been under the attack of banditry, kidnappers and other criminal elements.

He made this suggestion at an award lecture and public presentation of his new book, "Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth," in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital yesterday.

The book presentation brought together members of the Ogun State Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) in collaboration with Abeokuta Club.

Gunmen had abducted 42 people, including 27 students, who were kidnapped from a boarding school last week in Kagara, Niger State, a North-central state, though the victims were subsequently released.

Subsequently, about 317 students were abducted at the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Talata-Mafara Local Government Area, Zamfara State

With the latest incident, TheCable had reported that at least 1,157 students have been abducted over the course of seven years in northern Nigeria.

Responding to frequent abduction of school children yesterday, Soyinka lamented that his countrymen "are close to accepting a culture of the unacceptable," which according to him, should not be the case.

The literary giant said "I think we are reaching the point where, in any state where any child is kidnapped, that state should shut down completely. Other states, in solidarity, should at least shut down some of their activities.

"We should not wait for an enemy, faceless, airborne, unpredictable enemy like COVID, to make us shut down. In protest and as a statement of the unacceptable, we are shutting ourselves down until this situation is resolved.

"Sounds extreme, but we do not 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." he said.

He noted that his suggestion might be extreme, but said he could not think of what else could be done.

He disclosed that the government "has repeatedly failed in its responsibility to protect the citizens," people now live in fear and apprehension.

He wondered when the abduction of school children would end.

He asked: "Will it end? How will it end? I don't think any of us can tell. But it is important that we continue to stress and to remind ourselves that, not only are these abnormal times, but it seems to be, to me anyway, times of the shirking of responsibility in very key areas.

"We cannot permit ourselves -- we just cannot -- to continue in this fashion. Something drastic, meaningful has to take place, and it has to be collective.

"This is no longer the responsibility of those at the top (who are) supposed to be in charge of security, in charge of governance. They have clearly failed the populace.

"They have failed us. There is no point in trying to reason it out, to find excuses, to lay blame."

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