Creativity & commitment needed to handle Boko Haram: Soyinka


It is creativity and commitment by a president that is needed to handle Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.

This is according to Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka.

“The person at the top does not have to be of military experience, it’s useful for him to have had military experience any more than a president has to be an economist, a medical genius, an architect. For me, the army is just another arm of the state,” he told CNBC Africa.


“It’s the will, the creativity, the commitment, sense of timing of the person who heads an organism like a nation, which really counts – he knows where to go for help.”

Following the election of Muhammadu Buhari as the new president of Nigeria, many analysts have predicted that his military past will allow for a crackdown on corruption and more effective handling of the Boko Haram insurgency.

(READ MORE: Nigeria has spoken – Buhari elected new president)

Soyinka however, emphasised his belief that in order to properly deal with corruption, corrupt individuals must not be allowed to get away “Scott free”.

“I believe very much in the rule of law – there are laws about corrupt people. All I want to hear and to see from Buhari is, ‘I’m going to allow the law to take its course’, I don’t want to hear promises like, ‘I’m not going to probe this’ – if it is necessary to probe, probe,” he said.

“If it necessary to make examples, make examples because this nation has been robbed, has been raped – there’s no other word for it – and this has been a continuing pattern. It’s about time that drastic measures are taken to stop this culture of impunity that is transmitted from generation to generation.”

However, he also acknowledged that there needs to be a change in the mind-set of the Nigerian people in order to see change in the country.

“We talk about leadership, but Nigerians have become so cynical, so grasping – I’m sorry to say this – they’ve reached the level of ‘what’s in it for me’ and that is a very dangerous trend,” Soyinka stated.

“The change we’re talking about is not merely change in structure, it’s not just change in leadership mentality, it’s change in people’s minds. How that’s going to be brought about, I don’t know. Perhaps religion, sociologists, even philosophers have a role to play in this, and teachers in particular.”

While there are a number of challenges currently facing Africa’s biggest economy, Soyinka stated that 10 years down the line, he hopes to see genuine and sustainable development.

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“All I know is that the issue of power would have been resolved, cheap transportation such as railway, development of waterways would have reached new and efficient heights. In terms of structural enhancement of society, there’d be competition among the states – it’s started already,” he said.

“There’d be a greater sense of leaving genuine legacies behind, not just cosmetic because Nigerians are not fools, they learn to distinguish between false development and genuine and sustainable development. I believe that in 10 years’ time, we would have succeeded in eliminating fundamentalist threats to social cohesion.”