Why I rejected the Centenary Award - Soyinka

Prof. Wole Soyinka
Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Saturday said he rejected the centenary award to be conferred on him by the Federal Government because the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha that was on the honoree list.

In a statement entitled released the Nobel laureate, ‘The canonisation of terror,’ Prof. Wole Soyinka said it was an insult for him to be listed alongside Abacha for the award, more so when killings of innocent citizens by the Boko Haram sect was ongoing in the North-East.

Soyinka recalled the state-sponsored assassinations and abuse of human rights that occurred during Abacha’s reign of terror as military Head of State, and asked why the Federal Government had not changed the names of roads, hospitals and other public facilities that were named after General Abacha.

According to him , “Under that ruler, torture and other forms of barbarism were enthroned as the norm of governance. Nine Nigerian citizens, including the writer and environmentalist, Ken Saro-wiwa, were hanged after a trial that was stomach-churning even by the most primitive standards of judicial trial, and in defiance of the intervention of world leadership".

“We are speaking of a man who placed this nation under siege during an unrelenting reign of terror that is barely different from the current rampage of Boko Haram. It is this very psychopath that was recently canonised by the government of Goodluck Jonathan in commemoration of one hundred years of Nigerian trauma.”

Prof. Wole Soyinka added that by honouring Abacha, President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration had ridiculed Nigeria in the presence of world leaders by glorifying “murderers and thieves.”

“What the government of Goodluck Jonathan has done is to scoop up a century’s accumulated degeneracy in one preeminent symbol, then place it on a podium for the nation to admire, emulate and even – worship.

“Such abandonment of moral rigour comes full circle sooner or later. The survivors of a plague known as Boko Haram, students in a place of enlightenment and moral instruction, are taken to a place of healing dedicated to an individual contagion – a murderer and thief of no redeeming quality known as Sani Abacha, one whose plunder is still being pursued all over the world and recovered piecemeal by international consortiums – at the behest of this same government which sees fit to place him on the nation’s Roll of Honour!

“I can think of nothing more grotesque and derisive of the lifetime struggle of several on this list, and their selfless services to humanity. It all fits. In this nation of portent readers, the coincidence should not be too difficult to decipher. I reject my share of this national insult,” the statement read in part.

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