- Nobel Laureate and playwright, Professor Wole Soyinka, has revealed the importance of the celebration of June 12 as Democracy Day
- Soyinka said the celebration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day symbolised closure for those involved in the struggle to actualize the 1993 mandate
- The playwright also warned people against attempting to reduce the June 12 struggle to an ethnic project
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has described the celebration of June 12 as Nigeria's Democracy day as a wel needed closure for himself and others involved in the struggle to actualize the 1993 mandate.
Sahara Reporters reports that Soyinka in a statement on Tuesday titled, “Democracy Day Primer (1),” kicked against people attempting to reduce the June 12 struggle to an ethnic project.
Talking about the designation of June 12 as Nigeria's Demoracy Day, the playwright said: “A resolution that I first half-seriously injected into encounters over five years ago. That absence applies, not to the official celebration alone – of which I have never been a part anyway – but to the annual ritual by civic groups, a ritual of both tributes and defiance that has been unflaggingly observed till now.
“Regarding the earlier Abuja ceremony that signalled the state’s reversion to June 12 as the most truthful expression of a people’s democratic will, I did attend, even at the cost of breaking a journey on the way to Brazil. That event, for some of us, represented closure – at least substantially.
“It was a reunion of sorts, a cauterisation of many internal, invisible, and yet suppurating wounds, and private thanksgiving – for some of us – that the only route that appeared left for the recovery of a people’s dignity was abruptly, and ‘providentially’ closed by the timely demise of a singular human perversion. The nation was saved the anguish of the unknown. That sense of relief, on its own, is worth celebrating."
Soyinka also lambasted some people for attempting to reduce the June 12 struggle to an ethnic project.
He said: “Next, I found it equally lamentable that anyone should attempt to reduce the June 12 struggle to that of an ethnic project. It is a depressing travesty of the realities, a denial of the existence of a nation’s collective sense of justice and its tenacity in the pursuit of that objective.
“No one denies that the immediate family of a victim of robbery feels the pangs of dispossession more keenly than others. The truth, however, remains that the entirety of the compound itself was violated, arrogantly and contemptuously dispossessed.
“In this case, its very aspiration to a unified identity was simply ground underfoot, compelling a return to the starting block, and even several milestones behind! Disenfranchisement is the ultimate stigma for any free people."
He however added that he isn't surprised at those playing up the ethnic side of the story to their own advantages.
“However, there is even more matter for discouragement, so we should not be surprised at the ethnic cavilling. After the annulment, I recall that when we tried to mobilise opposition to that sadistic impostor, fanatic voices of ethnic irredentism informed us bluntly, verbally and in print, that the Yoruba should go and solve their problems themselves, since we had let them down in the lead-up to the Biafran war of secession, and should seek no collaboration from that side of the Niger.
“One recognises, in today’s renewed voices of ethnic denigration, the same chant of a hate chorus, the fanning of divisive embers. It is gratifying, therefore – and here we come to some cheering news – that this tendency has become a source of concern to many of the leaders of that former secessionist state. It led to recent counter efforts under themes such as Hands Across The Niger, later followed by Hands Across The Nation, encounters that have taken place both within the nation and outside her borders.
“It is crucial that those laudable initiatives continue in the same spirit of civic responsibility and nationally craved closure. We must, however, sound warning: these high-minded efforts are increasingly vitiated by the fanatic and obnoxious voices of an irrepressible handful. No, we are not speaking here of organised protests and demonstrations to keep Biafra alive – for those of my school of thought, these are both legitimate expressions of the democratic will, and cannot be suppressed. We refer specifically however to abrasive, irrational, and irreverent diatribes of purveyors of unrelenting discord.”
Meanwhile, Legit.ng earlier reported that Professor Attahiru Jega, former chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) called for a review of extant laws to further deepen democracy in Nigeria.
Jega made the call on Tuesday, June 11, in a paper he presented at a one-day National Democracy Day Anti-Corruption Summit held in Abuja.
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