Nobel laureate come political activist Prof. Wole Soyinka, has urged all Nigerians to join the fight against the deadly activities of the violent Islamist sect known as Boko Haram and other insurgents.
Soyinka made this statement at the formal inauguration of UNESCO’s 2014 World Book Capital City, in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, on Wednesday.
While delivering the keynote address at the event – themed ‘Republic of the mind and thraldom of fear’ – he noted that the sect was fighting a psychological war against the country and its people.
He said, “The current battlefield stretches beyond the physical terrain. We are engaged in a battle for the mind, which is where it all begins and where it will eventually be concluded. The battlefield is primarily ours.”
Soyinka said since the abduction of over 120 pupils of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State signalled a more dangerous dimension in the security crisis in the country, Nigerians must rise up to confront the threat posed by the sect.
“Boko Haram represents the ultimate Fatwa of our time. The question is does the sect’s Fatwa represent the articulated position of the majority of Muslims in this nation? My reading over the last few years is an unambiguous no.
“We are undergoing an affliction that many could not have imagined about a decade ago. Let us confront the ultimate horror now.
“To remain inactive at this moment is to betray our children and to consolidate the ongoing crimes against our humanity. We must take the battle to the enemy.
“This is no idle rhetoric. I will not go further. We sent our children to school; we must bring them back to school,” he said.
He described the 2014 World Book Capital event in the famous Garden city itself as a powerful statement implying a tacit rejection of Boko Haram’s Fatwa on Nigerians, as well as a gesture that contests the delusions of grandeur of members of the sect.
Echoing the recent call by Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State to Nigerian Muslims to rise against the activities of Boko Haram and to reject everything that the sect represents, he said that Nigerians must similarly be prepared to reassure members of the Boko Haram that their Fatwa does not apply to the nation.
While urging President Goodluck Jonathan not to re-impose tax on books, Soyinka also noted that life would be sweeter if books were allowed free access to Nigerians.
Also, former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, Retd, who chaired the occasion, made a plea for peace in the country.
“We all need to work together so that there will be peace in our country. If there is no peace, there will be no chance to read books and there will be no country. So I enjoin all Nigerians to join hands and ensure that we maintain peace in this country,” he said.