Sharia partly to blame for Boko Haram says Soyinka


Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has  blamed  governments for allowing religious fanaticism to undermine Nigeria's broadly secular constitution, starting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo allowing some states to declare Sharia law in the early 2000s.

According to him “When the spectre of Sharia first came up, for political reasons, this was allowed to hold, instead of the president defending the Constitution.

Soyinka who spoke with Reuters in Abeokuta on Wednesday said “We cannot ignore the negative impact which both have had on African society… They are imperialist forces: intervening, arrogant. Modern Africa has been distorted.”

He noted that while the leadership of Boko Haram needed to be “decapitated completely, “little had been done to present an alternative ideological vision to their “deluded” follow­ers, driven largely by economic destitution and despair.

  Soyinka, also contended that  Nigeria is suffering greater carnage at the hands of Boko Haram than it did during the civil war, he is optimistic Nigeria wouldn't break up.

Soyinka said the horrors in­flicted by the Islamist sect had shown Nigerians across the mostly Muslim North and Christian South that sticking together might be the only way to avoid even greater sectarian slaughter.

According to him, “the bloodshed is now worse than during the 1967-70 Biafra war when a secessionist attempt by the Eastern Igbo people nearly tore Nigeria up into ethnic regions,” add­ing: “We have never been confronted with butch­ery on this scale, even during the civil war.”

The Noble Literature laureate said, “there were atrocities (during Biafra), but we never had such a near predictable level of carnage and this is what is horrifying.”

On the fear that the growing intensity of the insurgency could cause Nigeria's break-up, Soyinka dismissed it, saying: “I think ironically, it's less likely now… For the first time, a sense of belonging is predominating. It's either we stick together now or we break up, and we know it would be not in a pleasant way.”

He stated that break-up would not solve the country's problem, as, according to him, “the (Boko Haram) forces that would like to see this nation break up are the very forces which will not be satisfied having their enclave… “(We) are confronted with an enemy that will never be satisfied with the space it has.”