5 hours ago/
By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has endorsed the flag-bearer of the Young Progressive Party, YPP, Kingsley Moghalu for president and asked Nigerians to cast their vote for him in next week’s presidential election if they want a change in the country.
Soyinka, in a statement he issued on behalf of the Citizen Forum, where he is the convener, said over the past few months, the forum studied the careers, experiences and track records of most of the presidential aspirants, and most intensely those actually short-listed by the opposition parties themselves and picked Moghalu as the best choice.
“Like millions of Nigerians, we watched the debates. I physically interacted with some of the acknowledged top contenders, in some cases several times. We participated in Handshake Across Nigeria, where some candidates presented their briefs. Among others, I delivered a keynote address. We watched television interviews. We have exchanged notes with highly respected international Civil Servants. The drive towards Consensus among these dedicated groups sometimes took the form of test questionnaires to the aspirants, including items such as: ‘Who among the contestants would you choose, if you did not emerge as the ultimate preference?’
“There was nothing complicated about assessment parameters: mental preparedness, analytical aptitude, response to the nation’s security challenges, economic grounding, grasp of socio-political actualities, including a remedial concern with the Nigerian image in foreign perception etc. etc. not forgetting a convincing commitment to governance and resource decentralization – commonly referred to as Restructuring,” he explained.
Soyinka said the Forum rejected retrograde propositions of a political merry-go-round, which urged the electorate to choose this or that candidate in order to ensure “our turn” at the next power incumbency, saying that overall, the exercise was exacting but also-therapeutic.
“It proved yet again that there is over-abundant leadership quality locked up in the nation, and that it is a collective shortcoming that the political space has not been sufficiently opened up to let soar such potential. Well, to cite the Chinese proverb: a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
“Let me reiterate: there is over-abundant, but stifled leadership material, and there can be no excuse, now that that potential of high quality is being manifested, for constricting the political space in a population that is nudging two hundred million. And that statement is of course specially addressed to those who took part in this exercise, those who deliberated opted out of it, some of whom were assessed anyway. Such potential compelled us to exercise utmost rigour in what proved to be a most daunting exercise. The final determination however is – the flag-bearer of the Young Progressive Party–Kingsley moghalu,” he said.
Soyinka said the Civic Forum would now join forces with those who pray, “Evil Spirit, leave us be!” – at least those who subscribe to the belief that political elections are not a Do-or-Die Affair!
The Nobel laureate had earlier said that the nation had been brought to her knees as the blaring media testimony needed no augmentation, adding that beyond her borders, Nigeria is the tale of citizens designated pariahs of the global community for whom special dossiers were opened, and units of security agencies were specifically assigned.
Soyinka said online transactions were programmed to reject basic usage once the word ‘Nigeria’ was inserted in the data profile, saying that there were few nation left, within or outside the continental borders where – no matter the codeword – a Nigerian ‘room’ had not been designated.
“Her humanity litters the sand trails of the Sahara, it lines the Mediterranean sea-bed with the bones of a desperate generation, seeking ‘green pastures’.Lines from my poems have been appropriated and embossed as epitaphs on the tombstones of Nigerians washed up the isle of Catania and accorded dignified burials by total strangers, certainly paid more respect than Nigerians themselves consider due to their own humanity.
“Other would-be migrants have been slaughtered by religious fundamentalists on the shores of Tripoli, while waiting for their precarious crossing on suicidal boats. Yet others end up as commodities in the slave markets of Libya and Mauritania, hundreds recently rescued and airlifted – credit where credit is due! – repatriated by government.
“It was not always thus. Numerous Nigerians believe that it need not remain so. There is always a choice to be made outside any presumptuous orders – in reality associations guaranteed to perpetuate social disorders and the politics of inequality.This is not the thinking of any one individual but of a large section of this populace. If it were not, there would not have been a record number of nearly a hundred political groups aspiring to take over the reins of governance.
“We do not need any instruction however to estimate that several of the aspiring groups are mere plants, raised to sow confusion.It redounds to the credit of a few individuals, including some of the candidates themselves, who embarked on efforts to winnow down their own ranks, then seek a consensus candidate as standard bearer for the battle against the two political behemoths,” he stated.
He said the Forum, which was last heard of during the time of the dictator, Sanni Abacha – was pulled out of retirement to join in their effort to arrive at peer consensus and change the narratives.