Presidential Libraries are fine and good.
However, I am sure Americans did not start the
education of their population with the building
and endowment of Presidential Libraries.
Where are the local street-corner libraries, available to every citizen, the types that were around when I was growing up in Nigeria? Where are the elementary school, high school, college and university libraries worthy of the name?
Is Nigeria's education now to be hitched tobuilding Presidential Libraries? When willAfrican heads of state stop being mere poorclones of what they think Western leaders are?
Western leaders try to cater to what they think
are the needs of their people - rightly or
wrongly - African leaders are catering to
What is the difference between an Obasanjo
Presidential Library at Owu Quarters in Abeokuta,
and a Catholic Cathedral in Yamasoukrou or
I this not still the same old crowd - Adenuga, Dangote, Odogwu, Arisekola, Ibru - flouting their "wealth", whose sources are at best questionable?
And where did the State Governors get the "N360 million" they "donated" from?
Obasanjo’s library launch, executive extortion – Soyinka
Emmanuel Obe and Toyin Obadina, Ibadan
Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has described
as “executive extortion,” the launch of the
N7billion President Oluse-
gun Obasanjo’s Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Saturday.
Soyinka who was fielding questions from
journalists on Monday after delivering a lecture
to mark the 80th birthday of Princess Tejumade
Alakija, Ibadan, Oyo State, said that the
fund-raiser contradicted the President’s
He, however, said that the launch, in which about
N6billion was raised through some individuals and
corporate bodies, was handled in a transparent
Among the highest donors were the oil majors,
$20million; the Chairman, Globacom
Communications, N250million; the President,
Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote,
N211.6million; the Chairman, Zenon Oil and Gas
Limited, Mr. Femi Otedola, N200million; and the
36 state governors, N360million.
Other major donors were the consortium of banks,
N622million; the Ogun State Governor, Otunba
Gbenga Daniel, N100million; the Nigeria Ports
Authority community, $1million;Obasanjo Holding,
N100million; Ocean and Oil, N50million; Aare
Musulunmi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Arisekola Alao,
N100million; Ide Ahaba, Chief Sunny Odogwu,
N100million, and Peoples Democratic Party,
Soyinka also said that the sovereign national
conference being proposed by the Pro-National
Conference Committee might hold in August.
“We are now looking at the possibility of hosting
the conference in August,” he said, explaining
that the June date initially fixed for the
conference was no longer feasible.”
During the lecture, titled, Back to Okija,
Soyinka criticised those he described as
extremists, bigots and zealots whom he said were
moving to destroy all shrines in the country.
He questioned the motive behind such actions,
saying the perpetrators represented retrogressive
forces in the Nigerian society.
While conceding that there might be some evil
shrines in the country, Soyinka said it was not a
sufficient justification to clamp down on all
shrines that are potential national artifacts.
He said, “Christian priests have been arrested
for offering divine protection to armed robbers
before an operation, providing them alibi. We do
not say we should destroy churches and even
playing grounds along the beach.
“Let all religions learn humility, take their
authorities from the best in the religions and
examine practices that are still anti-human in
Soyinka, who called for the respect of human
dignity in the country, said the attack on
shrines by religious zealots reflected
lawlessness in the country.
He also criticised Obasanjo for not releasing
funds meant for local government areas in Lagos
State, despite a Supreme Court order.
Soyinka said, “We know that present government of
this nation has no respect for the law of the
land. If it did, for instance, it will not
disobey the ruling of a judicial court that has
unambiguously ordered the release money that is
sticking unconstitutionally to its dictatorial
“Once an example of lawlessness has beenestablished right from the very top, whyshouldn’t the religious bodies take of othernationally empowered institution?
“If the President of this nation can unilaterally
determine what people can be served, preserved or
shortchanged, of social amenities including
primary allocations, why shouldn’t a bastion of
religious fanatics also decide the potential of
enquiry and knowledge to wipe out the resources
from the earth. What else?”
Soyinka also criticised the Kano State Government
for barring men and women from riding in the same
He said that the law was not even in operation in
Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic country.
Soyinka described as a waste the money spent by
the state on the purchase 100 buses to implement
He challenged the Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim
Shekarau, to prove that there were motorised
vehicles when the Koran was recorded.
He likened the new Kano law to the operation of
the apartheid regime in South Africa and the
segregation in public transportation in the
United States where a Black man was supposed to
duck into a gutter if he saw a White man
He praised Princess Alakija for her contributions
to national development in spite of the fact that
she operated in a country that had a bias against
The former External Affairs Minister, Prof.
Bolaji Akinyemi, who chaired the occasion, lauded
the contributions of Alakija to the emancipation
The Oyo State Governor, Chief Rashidi Ladoja,
said he wished that Obasanjo himself was present
to personally reply to Soyinka’s charges, but
promised to deliver a copy of the lecture to the
He said that most of the issues raised by Soyinka
as it regarded disrespect for the human person
did not occur in Yorubaland.
Some of the other personalities at the occasion
were Chief Bode Akindele, Chief Folake Solanke,
Dr. Victor Olunloyo, and the Ooni of Ife, Oba
Okunade Sijuade Olubuse II.Emmanuel Obe and Toyin
The PUNCH, Tuesday, May 17, 2005