Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"What is happening in the Delta is not strange"

From Voice of America:
Nigeria's Wole Soyinka, Africa's most acclaimed writer, says President Olusegun Obasanjo is illegally and unconstitutionally trying to lengthen his stay in power. He says President Obasanjo is using violence, bribery, coercion, and blackmail to twist the Nigerian constitution.

... He told a diverse audience [in Washington, DC] that the issue in the Niger Delta goes beyond oil. Soyinka read a passage from the book about the 1995 trial and execution of Ken Saro Wiwa, leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People.

"For most of us in the opposition, certainly for me, the state murder of Ken Saro Wiwa and his eight companions signaled the futility, indeed the death of dialogue," said Soyinka. "The trial of the Ogoni 9 right from the beginning was a proceeding that would be farcical but for its lethal implications."

Soyinka says he does not support the violence in the Niger Delta, but at the same time he's not surprised about what is going on in the oil-rich region.

"What is happening in the Delta is not strange. It was anticipated," he said. "Only those who take a very indifferent, alienated approach to real crisis, only they appear to be surprised. If you asked me I'm surprised at the new level of militancy in the Delta, the answer is clear: I am not surprised."

... "One thing which became clear in my contact with those rebels is that they just do not trust this government. And I've said openly, publicly in Nigeria. And now that same region wants illegally, unconstitutionally to prolong its stay using and bribery, coercion, and blackmail to try and twist the constitution around," he continued. "What do you think those who've been waiting decades and decades for a government that will finally tackle their problems with a sense of justice, what do you think they feel towards that?"
No kidding. Again, I really, really hope we can avoid dubbing the Niger Delta militants as terrorists in the same way that we've dubbed Islamic extremists in the mideast.

No comments: