Wole Soyinka, foremost Nigerian playwright and political activist, says former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan were poor in managing human disasters when both men governed Nigeria.
While addressing his audience on Thursday at a dialogue organised by Ripples Centre for Data and Investigative Journalism in Lagos, the Nobel laureate accused Obasanjo of neglecting the plight of victims of the Ikeja cantonment bomb blast in 2002 when he was president.
“The national armoury went up in serial detonations, and Ikeja was in collective panic not knowing what demons from heaven had descended on them,” he said, adding that he reached out to the former president, and protested, chiding him severely on his seeming negligence.
“I said to him; ‘you want to be accepted as a political leader, and you do not even accept as your duty to be there, at the scene of the disaster?’ And I asked him, did you actually utter those words attributed to you? His response remains a riddle to me till today,” Soyinka said.
“His exact words to me, not easily forgotten I assure you, were ‘Kampala tie niyen,’ meaning that is your own Kampala.”
Soyinka also swiped Jonathan whom he said waited for nearly three weeks before accepting the fact that over 200 schoolgirls had been abducted in Chibok in 2014 when he was president.
“Jonathan said the opposition was only using this to discredit his government, and precious days to have rescued the girls were lost,” Soyinka said.
Soyinka explained that the origin of ‘Kampala tie niyen’ takes us back to the nation’s recent ‘Kampala’ that is the Dapchi abduction.
In the Yoruba parlance, Kampala are hand-dyed fabrics using traditional wax methods. And when one is told that ‘Kampala tie niyen,’ it loosely means the ‘Kampala’ is for the person to hand-dye by himself.
Editor’s note: This story has been edited over the mix-up that Soyinka attacked Jonathan alone