Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, 74, to reveal the condition of his health after spending nearly two months in Britain on medical leave.
Soyinka, who spoke in an interview with AFP, at the Paris Book Fair, at the weekend, also said indigenous people have a right to assert themselves as a distinct people, even within a political and geographical zone anywhere in the world.
“He’s ill, there’s no question, and, I wish for heaven’s sake that people in public positions would just be honest. Illness is part of our existence. Buhari owes it to the nation and I don’t know why he and his advisors are being so coy about it,” Soyinka said.
The Nobel laureate who also noted that President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, exploited “latent xenophobia” to reach the White House, and added that a people have a right to agitate for self-autonomy within a geographical expression.
“It’s not the real estate for me that defines a nation or a people, no, it’s a history, a culture. What is a crime within an artificial entity like Nigeria? You have states being created which are not viable.”
Biafra unsuccessfully fought for independence in a brutal three-year civil war — during which Soyinka was imprisoned for nearly two years, over allegations of espionage.
Separatist sentiment has grown since the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, was arrested in October 2015, sparking bloody clashes with security forces.
The military denied an allegation by Amnesty International in November that security agents killed some 150 Biafra protesters in the past year.
Regardless, Soyinka said: “I cannot accept the notion that people have a right to kill other people because they want to assert their identity… It it doesn’t cost anything to recognise it.”