Wole Soyinka, Professor and Nobel Laureate has expressed disappointment that Ahmed Yerima, former Governor of Zamfara State, was not among the 100 Nigerians that President Goodluck Jonathan recently honoured as part of activities marking Nigeria’s centenary.
Speaking rather ironically, Soyinka stated this yesterday at a public service debate organized by the St John’s Forum, a group of public spirited Nigerians, at MUSON Centre, Lagos.
The topic of the debate was: Will Nigeria be better served by a parliamentary system of government?
Chairman of the event, Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary- General of the Commonwealth, set the tone of the debate by quoting an Igbo proverb.
“There is an Igbo proverb which says that a twice married woman is in a good position to tell what makes a successful husband. We started with the parliamentary system and then we changed from that to what we now have,” he said.
Other speakers at the debate included Odein Ajumogobia, former minister of foreign affairs; Ike Ekweremadu, deputy president of the Senate who was represented by Professor Okechukwu Oko; and Abdul Raufu Mustapha, associate professor at Oxford University, UK.
Soyinka, who supported the motion that Nigeria will be better served by a parliamentary system of government, made the statement against the backdrop of distinguished Nigerians who were recently honoured alongside late military dictator Sani Abacha. Soyinka as well as the families of Gani Fawehinmi and Fela Anikulapo Kuti rejected their respective awards on that ground.
Soyinka wondered why someone like Yerima, who pronounced a murderous fatwa on Isioma Daniel, a Nigerian journalist, would continue to be in the legislative arm of government as this would not happen in a parliamentary system.
Ajumogobia was the support speaker for the motion that Nigeria will be better served by the parliamentary system of government; Oko was the lead speaker against the motion and Mustapha was the support speaker.
At the end of the debate, the audience voted for or against the motions; and those who spoke in favour of the parliamentary system of government, carried the day.