Speech by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu at the 13th Professor Wole Soyinka Lecture held at the Shell Hall, MUSON CENTRE, Onikan, Lagos on Tuesday 20th July, 2010
Good afternoon friends and compatriots. It is with the deepest gratitude that I stand here with the privilege of giving the 13th Professor Wole Soyinka Lectures.
The great man in whose honour we gather to do this today clocked 76 a week ago, but the true insurgent that we have in him forbids the pleasure of celebrating his birthday in any outward way. In retribution, therefore, I propose that we flip the significance of the day to interrogate our dear Kongi on the reason why his presumed ‘Renaissance’ generation tragically ended up as the “wasted generation.”
The National Association of Seadogs [NAS] asked that I speak on Nigeria@50: The Crisis of Nationhood. I believe there is already some consensus regarding our diagnosis of this problem. The much respected elder statesman, Christopher Kolade, summed it up for us the other day, with respect to the debate on how much the current administration is proposing to spend for the 50th anniversary celebration. Chillingly, he said:
“I have read in the papers that the country might be celebrating its 50 years of independence this year and that we might be spending N10bn on that. For those of us that are more than 50 years, if we think about what we had in place 50?years ago, then we shall be celebrating 50 years of decline.”
Let us be frank about it, the prospects of our failure in this nation-building enterprise had been visible so early in the day, and had been the subject of endless journalistic commentaries and literary texts. It was such that a mystery handsome and idealistic youngster in Ibadan, presumably armed with a gun, back in October 1965, seized a radio station, stopping it from announcing a forged election result. Although a competent court of law cleared him of any wrong doing, if that young man is in our midst today let him stand up for recognition!
Yes let us admit that he is our father, our friend from whom we learnt rebellion. But he is also the man who taught us how to build institutions. Ladies and gentlemen, kindly clap for him and say a hearty thank you. Ese gan ni ooo
THE NATIONAL QUESTION YET AGAIN:
Nations are like living organisms. If they are nourished with a diseased breast, the result varies in the dimensions of birth defects, but just as in science so it is in nation building; you cannot plant cassava and hope to reap cocoyam.Read more here