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Resign, Soyinka tells Etteh

Posted by By Geoffrey Ekenna on 2007/10/05 | Views: 2569 |

Resign, Soyinka tells Etteh

A Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday joined the growing league of people and groups calling for the resignation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Patricia Etteh.

A Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday joined the growing league of people and groups calling for the resignation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Patricia Etteh.

Soyinka, at a press conference in Lagos, said that Etteh’s continued stay in office was unfortunate.

He said, "What else do you expect from her? You know Etteh is a member of the Olusegun Obasanjo family. Her continued stay in office justifies all we have been saying from the beginning that corrupt practices, especially political corruption only leads to more and more corruption, especially material graft.

"I don’t understand what she is still doing there. She should have honourably withdrawn from there and save the country this embarrassment.

"The facts seem to me quite clear and any cover-up to me should receive appropriate response from the citizenry."

At the conference in which he also described two former Nigerian leaders – Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari – as enemies of humanity, the playwright said he was not surprised that Etteh was involved in the N628m contract scandal in the House.

He said what surprised him was the Speaker’s determination to remain in office.

The playwright argued that the attitude of Etteh and her supporters was not in sync with Yoruba culture.

Soyinka added that it would be foolhardly for anyone to think that the Yoruba would defend or protect Etteh from resignation.

He said, "We like to think and show by example in the way the Yoruba have judged Obasanjo. I think the greatest critics of Obasanjo have come from his home base.

"Prominent among his critics are his own people. Many people have been removed from office for behaving in an un-parliamentary way. If the House believes you have behaved in such a manner they can remove you from your position or suspend you.

"It is not a question of criminal indictment. I think we should not allow technicalities becloud our sense of rectitude and moral conduct. It is not a question of indictment or not."

Soyinka called the conference to react to an allegation by a Peoples Democratic Party Chieftain, Dr. Godwin Dabo, that he (Soyinka) criticises Babangida because he (Babangida) did not make him a Minister of Education.

The literary icon, who also spoke on the face-off between the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said he condemned Babangida and Buhari because of their activities as former military leaders.

Soyinka said he would never forgive Babangida and Buhari because they killed and stunted the growth of democracy in Nigeria.

He said, "My colleagues had spoken about the execution of Vatsa. Professors . J.P Clark, .Chinua Achebe, and I led a delegation to plead for the condemned people.

"Babangida gave us his word of honour that he would do everything to ensure that they would not be killed.

"After the execution, I, again received information that Babangida fought to save them at a meeting. The person who informed me was one of those whose brother was killed.

"I had cause to review that information. I found out that it was planted. I don’t know if you remember Babangida’s statement, when Vasta’s wife started seeking justice for the execution.

"It was the most unconscionable, insensitive and callous statement by any former head of state. He said in effect that he had no regrets.

"To make a statement like that to the widow of an executed man, was to me the clincher that Babangida did not value human lives. What do we write about? We write about human lives and we believe in the sanctity of human lives.

"I do not judge the military too harshly because I know the character of the military all over the world.

"They live by certain codes. But to actually crow over the demise of somebody whose life you were responsible, that was the height of insensitivity.

‘Apart from the fact that Babangida executed some military officers under some coup plot allegations, he subverted democracy.

"I have said it in various places, both in lectures and everywhere. He subverted democracy. He laid the foundation on which people like Gen. Sani Abacha were able to build; a foundation on which the likes of Obasanjo built. The foundation for the erosion of democracy in this country was laid by Babangida."

He said that it was because of Babangida’s activities that he opposed the presence of members of the Association of Nigerian Authors at this year’s Nigeria Literature prize, organised by the Nigeria LNG Limited.

Babangida was billed to be the guest speaker at the award night on October 6 (Saturday).

On Buhari, Soyinka said, "He executed three young men, under a retroactive law and after leaving office, he said he had no regrets. He would do the same"

Soyinka insisted that he had no respect for people who did not build democratic foundations for the country.

He said that it was for the same reason that he recently boycotted a lecture delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, in honour of the late Mr. Christopher Okigbo in the United States.

He said that Maduekwe represented the opposite of what writers believed.

He said, "On principle I refused to attend. Maduekwe, as far as I am concerned, has been feeding fat on the abandonment of democratic principles.

"As the Secretary of the PDP, he collaborated in the subversion of democracy. He associated with the most vicious agglomeration of political individuals that this country has ever known. I had previously said that in a decent society, he should be tried for treason"

On Dabo’s claim on his stance against Babangida, he said the Benue State-born politician was a man who specialises in making money from any government in power.

Soyinka challenged Daboh to produce evidence that the actions he took against Maduekwe,or any other person was because he wanted to get any position from them.

He also used the opportunity to condemn Aondoakaa, for his alleged role in the dismissal of a money laundering charge against a former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori, by a London court.

Soyinka said it would amount to a great disservice to the Umaru Yar’Adua administration if it was found out that Aondoakaa wrote the controversial letter which was said to have played a role in the court’s verdict.

He said that he had read the AGF’s report and that of the EFCC and was waiting to read more on the matter.

"I doubt very much, if the EFCC would tell a lie" he said.

Soyinka also described the Obasanjo Presidential Library launch as "Executive Extortion."

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