Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has condemned the outcry generated by the Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket as Nigerians head towards general elections next year.
He described the controversies surrounding the Muslim/Muslim ticket as a reflection of how the country has been fractured along religious lines and its citizens made to look different from one another right from childhood.
Soyinka made the remarks on Tuesday in Abeokuta, Ogun State while moderating a lecture, themed: ‘Good Governance or Misgovernance: The Contract called Democracy’. The lecture was organised by the historic Abeokuta Club to mark its 50th anniversary.
His words: “This gathering here could not have been more timely. In fact I am hoping that a series of this kind of encounter will take place all over the nation between now and the long awaited day next year. I think it will help many people clarify a number of things in minds before that day and maybe move a little bit away towards pulling us out of the morass in which we find ourselves, if we want to be very honest about this.
“I think we’ve all come here with a lot of negative image hanging on our necks. And also some measure of hope, some modicum of illumination,” Soyinka said.
The Nobel Laureate, acknowledging the presence of secondary school students in uniform whom he said events like that for him were primarily for, also used the opportunity to condemn the controversies triggered by the Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket and whether students should be allowed to wear religious garbs to schools.
“There is one other thing going on in my mind. And I think we have the experts here who will talk about it. There are some school children over there. And one wonderful thing about them for me is that they are in uniform. In other words I cannot tell which one is a Christian, which one is a Muslim, which one is an Orisa worshipper, which one is a Zoroastrian, which one is a Buddhist. They are school children.
“They are equal and they are being encouraged to see one another as human beings, not as separate creatures. And I want to be informed if it is against democracy that schools insist that uniforms be worn by children so that they are not distinguished in a very dramatic way. So that they do not look at one another as different.
“So now I’m talking to religionists. I’m saying why do you want to create such marked differentiation at that age, that impressionable age, when we need to teach our children to look at one another as equals, as the same people, the same entitled creatures of society?
“These are issues which I hope we will also touch. Because when we hear expressions like Muslim/Muslim ticket, Christian/Christian ticket, Orisa/Orisa worshipper ticket. This is where it all begins. This is where the nervousness begins. This is where the anxiety and the phobia begin. This is where it begins, when you teach the children to be different at an age when they are so impressionable. These are issues I hope you will help to resolve,” Soyinka maintained.