Literary giant Prof Wole Soyinka yesterday described the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as same side of a coin.
He said neither the APC presidential candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, nor his PDP challenger, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, enjoys his backing for the most exalted seat.
Soyinka urged Nigerians never to lose hope in charting a new direction that will deliver the nation from the looming anarchy, adding that it is not too early to make a new beginning.
Speaking at Citizen Forum 2019 interactive session tagged: “Civic choice in a time of judicial ‘penkelemes” in Lagos yesterday, cautioned Nigerians to be wary of past political leaders who are out to deceive the electorate.
He said: “I, Wole Soyinka, will not support either of the two contesting parties and I vote them for absolute rejection. It is time for a total new direction.
“But, things are going on in the background quietly to change the situation. I don’t believe in negative vote but in creative vote, which is a seed that will germinate. The pace of germination is beyond everyone.
“You must never be intimidated by crowd or rally. If you don’t begin you will not arrive. We must plant a seed, send a notice and you never know the pace it will germinate. Don’t let those past leaders mislead you all over again. Examine their motives. You must listen to the message and you must always interrogate the messenger.”
Soyinka said the forum was not in response to any claim that Nigeria is undergoing another late General Sani Abacha’s period; instead, the forum is for public enlightenment.
He stressed that Nigerians must be prepared to defend their rights, adding that successive governments adopt various ways to muscle the civil society and the judiciary.
Soyinka said: “Anarchy develops when you brush the constitution aside, when you trivialize and you degrade the laws…My respect for the law and the bench is ingrain in me.
“But, when I see a minister of Justice being killed like a chicken and nothing comes out of it in a democracy, I see the entire system upside down until the perpetrators are found and one regime comes in, announce it as one of the unsolved political murders.
“And this is not political murder but corruption murder. And up till now, regime comes after regime and nothing comes out of it. I therefore say what is there left for me to respect?”
Activist and Lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) said both the Federal Government and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) erred in the handling of the Chief Justice Onnoghen’s case.
He said: “We must challenge the judicial performance of NJC/NBA for pretending there was no problem. He described it as a dangerous phenomenon because while the chief Justice is being charged with serious accusations, NBA is busy mobilising lawyers.
“This has to be stopped. Lawyers go around making mockery of the profession. It is a wrong message. We must also decry those that laid the foundation for dictatorial rule in Nigeria in a democracy. Let the defender of our rights not pull wool over our eyes.”
Another activist, Mrs. Joe Okei-Odumakin, who spoke on the need to follow the rule of law, said if the National Judicial Council (NJC) meeting of January 15 was held, maybe “we would not have been in this mess”.
She, however, described what the government did as a nullity and of no effect.
Foremost activist Femi Aborisade said the “removal” of Justice Onnoghen was not a fight against corruption but an agenda to plant culture of fear to intimidate the judiciary.
“Fight against corruption must be based on rule of law. For a regime to obtain a black market injunction is unacceptable. Obasanjo is only interested in change of power while President Buhari is fighting not to be displaced. They should not deceive us. We are interested in system change,” Aborisde said.