Professor Wole Soyinka, one of African most celebrated intellects, yesterday, sided with MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta).
“Nigerian militants waging war on its government’s policies in the Niger Delta received celebrity backing Friday from a Nobel prize-winning playwright and author,” reported (AFP).
The Nobel laureate in literature, Prof. Wole Soyinka, criticized the Nigerian government in the handling of Niger Delta crisis and called for a concrete measure to resolve the problems.
“This government is still making a fundamental mistake. The crisis of the Delta region can only be solved holistically… The basic issue for which MEND is fighting — restructuring of Nigeria on more equitable lines — is exactly what the majority of this nation has been fighting for (over) so many years,” he said, as reported by (APF).
Last month, the federal government took up the militants, fighting for a greater share of the oil revenue in the volatile region of Niger delta.
Dozens of soldiers, militants and civilians were killed during the confrontation.
The region has been witnessing a sign of relief since last June 25, when President Umaru Yar’Adua’s declared amnesty to the militants who are willing to lay down their weapons. The amnesty offer is expected to last until October 4.
The armed group last week declared a two-month ceasefire, following the release of their leader, Henry Okah, who had been facing treason charges.
They, however, warned the oil companies not to repair the destroyed installations, as long as their case with the federal government is not resolved.
In the view of the 1986 Nobel laureate who called for fiscal federalism, fair distribution of revenues, justice, and equitable rights, Nigeria needs to “mend” itself.
He urged MEND to assist the population in flushing out some opportunists, racketeers and extortionists” in its fold.
The unrest in Niger Delta has cut Nigeria oil export by more than half; a trend the federal government is trying to change.
Nigeria derives more than 90 percent of its revenue from oil export.
Ewanfoh Obehi Peter
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