‘Stop showing loyalty to Abiola’s tormentor’ – Soyinka tells President

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Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has told President Muhammadu Buhari to stop showing loyalty to “Abiola’s tormentor.”

Soyinka made the statement on Tuesday in Abuja during the Special National Honours Investiture.

There is a general belief that he must be referring to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, who detained Chief MKO Abiola for about five years until he died in detention.

Soyinka however, did not mention Abacha’s name but said it was confusing for the President to honour Abiola on one hand, and be admiring the Abiola’s tormentor on the other hand.

Soyinka commended Buhari for apologizing to the late politician’s family.

He described the apology from the President as an aspect he did not expect at the ceremony.

His words: “Most of what I wanted to say have been actually knocked off my mouth by one singular gesture: the presidential apology. It is a dimension which I did not expect from today’s ceremony.

“I had a lot to say, but fortunately the words have been taken off my mouth. However, I will like to make a request. Mr. President, since we are honouring heroes of democracy today, I will like to request that you manage to stop creating confusion in the minds of Nigerians.

“It is not possible to honour MKO Abiola in one breadth and admire his tormentor in another breadth. Loyalty is all very well but loyalty can become perverse if that loyalty is retained to an individual who if he were alive today would be before the International Court of Crimes against Humanity.

“The one who broke the laws of Nigeria, international laws, pauperised this nation, it is confusing if professional loyalty is carried so far as to be accorded such an individual.

“We had a private conversation some time ago and I remember one of the things which I mentioned to you. I said you are fighting corruption, how come that a notorious dictator, corrupt ruler, is honoured by one of the most important avenues in the capital of Abuja, whereas, individuals like the martyrs of the struggle, philanthropists have not been honoured?

“The answer you gave to me was not too satisfactory, but I let it pass.

“Today, perhaps is also an opportunity to inaugurate our Hall of Shame so that as we have our Hall of Heroes on the one hand, we can also have our Hall of Shame, as a lesson to future generation.

“But your apology has been most touching. On behalf of the Nigerian people, I accept it. I accept and I am sure that most Nigerians will agree with me.”

He also backed the call by the National Assembly that the June 12 poll result be formally released and Abiola declared as the winner, while the Abuja National Stadium be named after him as earlier suggested.

Soyinka added that the event itself should be seen as the beginning and not the closure to the event of June 12.

He said a closure to the event could only come after all the victims of the struggle had been honoured.

Soyinka added, “It is a beginning. I do not agree that this is closure to the event of June 12.

“There are far too many traumatized individuals walking around the streets, pauperized individuals walking around as a result of the policies and attitudes of one of the most brutal dictators.

“In fact, the most brutal dictator that this country has ever known.

“Closure will come by responding to those traumatized individuals or victims of unspeakable tortures, some of whom were compelled to watch even their beloved ones being tortured, on behalf of a man who was determined not just to demonize, to dominate his environment, but also to dehumanize that environment.

“All that is left for me is to plead so that we do not forget the nameless, the unsung heroes and heroines of that struggle.

“A number of names have already been listed but I will like to include one of the pioneers, the instigators of the physical confrontations with that dictator, Comrade Ola Oni, who mobilized a number of people and fought the goons and slaves and surrogates of that dictator in that auspiciously named stadium in Ibadan, Liberty Stadium.

“But above all, I want us always to remember that individual which we are principally celebrating today, the man who reappeared and represented himself, who did not understand the word ‘surrender’, saying ‘my name is Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, I am back to reclaim my mandate,’ he said.

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