The Nigerian Nobel laureate for literature, Wole Soyinka, has expressed concerns in an interview with DW that the military could take power following presidential elections in Nigeria on March 28.
The 80-year-old writer, who has taken an active role in African politics for more than 50 years, says he fears there are “clear indications of a military intervention.”
Soyinka told DW: “Ex military officers and security officers are trying to push aside the political contestants and use the unrest as an excuse to establish an interim government. The nature of the interim government wants to pretend it’s not really a military intervention. A few political leaders, well-known civilians, want to give the veneer of civilian structure, but basically it’s a kind of political intervention.”
The presidential election in Nigeria, Africa’s strongest economy, was originally scheduled to take place in February before it was postponed by six weeks. The vote pits Christian incumbent Goodluck Jonathan against Muslim Muhammadu Buhari.
Soyinka says his country “is aspiring very hard to become a failed state.” Speaking about the more than 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by terror group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria a year ago, he expressed little hope that “the majority of them” will ever be found. Despite military gains made by troops from neighboring Cameroon, Niger and Chad, Soyinka believes there’s no chance of a rapid victory over the jihadist group. “It will take a generation at least to exterminate this phenomenon altogether. The military would not have had to cope with Boko Haram on this level if the proper action had been taken at the right time. This is the biggest the problem I have with the Jonathan government.”
Soyinka also laments the increasingly aggressive direction the election campaign in Nigeria is taking. Recently, the president’s wife Patience Jonathan called on her husband’s followers to stone people who demanded a different leader. Political observers saw this as a call for violence against the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is campaigning on a platform of change.
Soyinka told DW that while he doesn’t support the opposition’s move to file criminal charges against the First Lady in the International Criminal Court, her comments should not go unchecked.
“What she said was totally unacceptable. I no longer regard her as the First Lady of Nigeria,” he said.