Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said in a statement on Friday that the Citizen Forum, which he serves as its convener, has endorsed a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, as its presidential candidate.
Moghalu is the presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party.
Soyinka last Thursday in Lagos during an interactive session organised by the Citizen Forum rejected the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, describing them as worthy of absolute rejection.
The playwright in the statement titled, ‘New directions in a time of decision,’ said the nation had been brought to her knees, noting that the blaring media testimony needed no augmentation.
He said, “Beyond her borders, Nigeria is the tale of citizens designated pariahs of the global community for whom special dossiers are opened, and units of security agencies are specifically assigned. Online transactions are programmed to reject basic usage once the word ‘Nigeria’ is inserted in the data profile. There are few nations left, within or outside the continental borders where – no matter the codeword – a Nigerian ‘room’ has not been designated. Her humanity litters the sand trails of the Sahara, it lines the Mediterranean sea-bed with the bones of a desperate generation, seeking ‘green pastures’.”
Saying it was not always this way and numerous Nigerians believed that it needed not remain so, he added that there was always a choice to be made outside any presumptuous orders – in reality associations guaranteed to perpetuate social disorders and the politics of inequality.
“This is not the thinking of any one individual but of a large section of this populace. If it were not, there would not have been a record number of nearly a hundred political groups aspiring to take over the reins of governance. We do not need any instruction however to estimate that several of the aspiring groups are mere plants, raised to sow confusion. It redounds to the credit of a few individuals, including some of the candidates themselves, who embarked on efforts to winnow down their own ranks, then seek a consensus candidate as standard bearer for the battle against the two political behemoths, ” he stated.
The Nobel laureate also said the forum worked with those concerned and made no attempt to impose its own preferences, but utilised material from the deliberations of at least four such selection groups.
According to Soyinka, the result of that effort by Citizen Forum, coincides with his personal preference.
He, however, stated that the forum’s conclusion was not binding on other groups or individuals involved in the exercise.
Soyinka said, “May I take this opportunity to advise the public that neither Citizen Forum nor myself, belongs to any Third Force or other consensus-seeking councils by any other name. Please ignore any such attributions.
“Over the past few months, we studied the careers, experiences and track records of most of the presidential aspirants, and most intensely those actually shortlisted by the opposition parties themselves. Like millions of Nigerians, we watched the debates. I physically interacted with some of the acknowledged top contenders, in some cases several times. We participated in Handshake Across Nigeria, where some candidates presented their briefs. Among others, I delivered a keynote address. We watched television interviews. We have exchanged notes with highly respected international civil servants. The drive towards consensus among these dedicated groups sometimes took the form of test questionnaires to the aspirants, including items such as: ‘Who among the contestants would you choose, if you did not emerge as the ultimate preference?’”
He noted that there was nothing complicated about assessment parameters: mental preparedness, analytical aptitude, response to the nation’s security challenges, economic grounding, grasp of socio-political actualities, including a remedial concern with the Nigerian image in foreign perception etc.
“Not forgetting a convincing commitment to governance and resource decentralisation – commonly referred to as restructuring,” he added.
Besides, Soyinka noted that there was over-abundant, but stifled leadership material and there could be no excuse, now that that potential of high quality was being manifested, for constricting the political space in a population nudging two hundred million.
The playwright added, “And that statement is of course specially addressed to those who took part in this exercise, those who deliberated opted out of it, some of whom were assessed anyway. Such potential compelled us to exercise utmost rigour in what proved to be a most daunting exercise.”