Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka on Thursday charged President Muhammadu Buhari to respond positively to the demands of the Niger Delta militant groups.
Soyinka, who spoke at a press conference at the Freedom Park, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria said the feelings of the militants were that the Buhari government was not seriously responding to their outreach.
He said he was approached personally by the militants and that he had responded personally to some of the militant groups just like he did when the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, was the umbrella body of agitation in the Niger Delta during the reign of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“I want to make an appeal to the government to respond positively to the outreach from the militant groups, that is a request which has been made by some of the groups. At the moment, they feel that the government of President Buhari is not seriously responding to their own outreaches and I wish to make a personal appeal to the government to respond positively and let us see where it ends.
“I was approached personally and I have been responding to some of these groups just like I did when President Goodluck Jonathan was in power and MEND was the umbrella group of the insurgents. I made that appeal to the government to please respond to the efforts of these militant groups to arrive at a holistic and comprehensive solution,” he said.
Soyinka debunked claims that he was part of an international body contracted to resolve the Niger Delta crisis, asking how he could he be part of an international group that did not exist.
“The real reason is that I had a meeting in London, in the House of Lord and the meeting was not about the main subject that took me to Aso Rock which among other things is the problem we have in the Niger Delta. But, I used that opportunity to link with several international figures, parliamentarian, royal heads, etc to pass on the message internationally.
“Let me make a plea. It’s bad enough distorting whatever happens, events, statements on certain subjects, bad enough. But on an issue like the insurgency in Nigeria, the Delta in particular, we are on very delicate grounds and the media have a huge role to play in that. And the immediate role people like me must demand of the media is accuracy.
“There can be no invention in this kind of situation. There can be no adumbration, there can be no extrapolation, not even second guessing. You have got to be accurate. Otherwise, there’s a loss of confidence and therefore a lack of solution. People must be confident that what they say to you is what you translate and transmit to those to whom you are sent,” he said.
“You cannot publish a statement attributed to me saying I am part of an international group when the international group is not even in existence. There is no international group which has been formed. I like to go further; and attributed to me is a statement that the international group had already contacted President Buhari. What kind of extreme invention is that? How can a group which does not exist be meeting with the Head of State and how could I, who just happened to be meeting with the Head of State, say that the two entities have met when one of them does not exist? I have taken a decision not to speak about the Delta situation, I will not be talking to the press any longer because I cannot spend my time correcting falsehood. I’m not responsible for the falsehood, and that burden should not be placed on my head,” he added.