Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Wednesday said that the docility of Nigerians was responsible for the impunity among the political class.
This is as the renowned Kenyan born good governance activist has lamented that Nigeria and indeed the African countries reward corrupt leaders with re-election.
They spoke at the 24th edition of the Wole Soyinka Lecture Series organized by the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) held via zoom with the theme National Conference Against Impunity.
In his remarks, Professor Soyinka said every Nigerian should take responsibility for allowing impunity thrive in the country, adding that the country was paying for not being able to protest and denounce impunity in the country.
The Nobel Laureate, who noted that all the dire events that have overtaken and overwhelm Nigeria were traceable to impunity, pointed out that the topic was timely considering that it was instructive for Nigerians and that it was not late to reverse the trend.
According to him, “I would probably expect that from different perspectives in terms of timing, there might be disagreement I am absolute certain that we would agree that one of the major reasons for the dilemma we are undergoing in this country right now is that we permitted, we nurtured, we even encouraged either by actions or inactions, the mindset of impunity both in leadership and among the people.
“We ourselves are equally guilty. We ourselves allowed it. We watched it happened. We didn’t take to the streets to protest it, to denounce it, to warn of the consequences. Oh yes there were warnings here and there but they were not concerted and structured. So it is not too late to reverse the trend. But at least we must first begin a frank, honest and objective dialogue.”
The keynote speaker, Prof Patrick Lumunba in his paper stated that the issue of impunity was not peculiar to Nigeria alone but permeates the African continent.
He lamented that rather than be enraged by impunity, Nigerians and Africans “have rewarded corrupt leaders with re-election.”
He said, “It is pertinent to ask why Nigeria which had such great promise continues to wallow in the lower rungs of human development. Why are Africans and Nigerians silent in the face of impunity? Why in the words of Wole Soyinka has the man in us died?”
He further said that people should hold themselves responsible for refusing to act and being part of the misfortune that has befallen the country, adding, “Despite the impunity by our public office holders, by some miracle, we are not enraged! It would also seem that we have lost the gift of disgust. Why is this so, who cursed us?
“We are the co-authors of our own misfortune because we have lost our values and now resort to religion. We now choose to apply faith instead of logic, elevating the principle of ‘Donothingnism’. We have created leaders who have arrogated themselves the monopoly of wisdom and the country is now run in a narrow and primordial fashion.”
Lumumba, however, said in the midst of the gloom, the people must remain hopeful and ensure impunity does not triumph by holding leaders accountable.
Also speaking the Ombudsman, ThisDay/Arise News TV Media Group, Mr Kayode Komolafe noted that impunity in socio-economic policies is pervasive.
Komolafe, who corroborated Soyinka that impunity thrives because it is permitted and that there is a class narration to the issue of impunity.
The former Deputy Managing Director of ThisDay regretted that Nigerians have not made accountability the bedrock of democracy in the country which allows leaders not be asked questions, stressing that country’s system reinforces impunity.
Other speakers, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Ms Cynthia Mbamalu and Prof Pat Utomi advocated for concerted efforts from the people to end impunity.