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Soyinka blasts Buhari over pardon for Dariye, Nyame

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Prof. Wole Soyinka, a Nobel Laureate, yesterday lashed out at President Muhammadu Buhari for granting a presidential pardon to Joshua Dariye, a former governor of Plateau State and Jolly Nyame who is a former governor of Taraba State.

Bothe former governors were jailed for stealing billions of naira and Soyinka described the President’s action as rotten egg squashed against Nigerian faces, which they shall not forget or wipe off in a hurry.

President Buhari had last Thursday granted pardon, under the prerogative of mercy, to Dariye and Nyame, who were serving various prison terms.

Soyinka, in a statement yesterday, titled: ‘A Putrid Presidential Easter Egg,’ said he shared in the bombshell dropped on Easter against the President by Rev. Matthew Kukah.

He said he was impelled, however, not to miss an opportunity to add his own Easter drop to the “overflowing vessel of pietistic sentiments, if only to reassure Christians – and also Muslims in turn – that even we, non-believers, do partake of that same ethical communion to which most humanities aspire.

“Also, your Easter sermon opens up yet again those sluices of juridical hypocrisy to which we dare not cease to draw attention. Such, in the immediate, remains the plight of two young men – Mubarak Bala and the musician Yahaya Sharif – one serving a sentence of 25 years, the other actually sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy.

“That word ‘blasphemy’ comes into its authentic mode, in my view, whenever anyone violates a solemn oath of office. Its penitentially becomes even redoubled when such violators are pampered with the prerogative of mercy.

“Permit me to call special attention to the following from your (Kukah) sermon: ‘Religious leaders…. must face the reality that here in Nigeria and elsewhere around the world, millions of people are leaving Christianity and Islam. While we are busy building walls of division with the blocks of prejudice, our members are becoming atheists, but we prefer to pretend that we do not see this. We cannot pretend not to hear the footsteps of our faithful marching away into atheism and secularism. No threats can stop this, but dialogue can open our hearts.”

Soyinka said he was persuaded that the recent largesse from the President had already won a few hearts and minds to the ranks. “If not of outright atheism, then at least to healthy sceptical regard of piety spouting leadership that saw nothing wrong in attempts to extinguish the life of a young man for an honest declaration of conviction, while veterans of broken pledges were let loose to further infect a world they had betrayed.

“No pardon has been extended in the direction of endangered, youthful integrity. Of course, it is easy to track the trajectory of events. Nettled by increasingly scabrous comments, such as those of his predecessor in office, Olusegun Obasanjo, who declared that this incumbent has run out of ideas, that he has nothing left to offer the nation, Muhammadu Buhari decided to embark on the Easter train and donate an Easter egg of truly presidential proportions to his subjects,” he said.

According to Soyinka, coming from a leader who had placed all his eggs in one basket, labeled anti-corruption, “this is one egg squashed against Nigerian faces that they shall not forget – or wipe off – in a hurry. It evokes the legend of Pandora’s box whose contents are alleged to constitute all the ills that plague the world.

“Putrid to the core, allied to power provocations in numerous variations, such as catapulting a notorious player in the martyrdom of a serving Minister of Justice to the hub of governance wheel, these define the nature of bequests that have brought the nation to this moment of near dissolution. Precedents are no consolation, no excuses.

“One states the obvious in remarking that precedents either undermine or reinforce principles, and aspiring offenders, especially in the political domain, are encouraged or inhibited by the ease or difficulty of access to the fount of mercy.

“Officeholders, we presume, are constrained by the existence of that dangling Sword of Damocles – simply knowing that one day, the cloak of immunity will turn threadbare, and the awaited day of reckoning finds them answerable. Clearly, not any longer.

“You will forgive, though disagree with me, I know, for clambering onto the Easter wagon myself, to echo the words of the One whose passage through the world the Easter season commemorates: “It is finished!” he concluded.

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Corps member empowers ex-convicts in Ekiti, warns against stigmatisation

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A serving corps member in Ekiti State, Anuoluwa Elizabeth Balogun, has empowered ex-convicts in the state with tools in various skills, as her Personal Community Development Service (CDS) project in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

Balogun, whose passion was borne out as a result of the numerous psychological challenges ex-convicts faced when released from prison, such as stigmatisation, discrimination, isolation, and instability, embarked on the seamless project to make an impact in her immediate environment.

The ex-convicts were presented with the tools at the one-day sensitisation programme tagged “Sensitisation of the Public Against Stigmatisation of the Ex-Convicts,” in Ado-Ekiti, on Wednesday.

Balogun said that the project is to rehabilitate, reform and reintegrate the ex-convicts, while urging the Federal Government and other relevant stakeholders to map out programmes towards their proper reintegration into the society.

She added that during her pre-release counselling sessions with the ex-convicts, she discovered that the various offenses they committed were as a result of poverty and improper upbringing.

According to her, “This project is set to rehabilitate, reform, and reintegrate a sizeable number of ex-convicts in Ekiti State. It is a smaller version of the big institution I have in mind, which the Federal Government and the State Government should take up, being also ably supported by individuals in the society.

“During the one month pre-release counselling sessions with the inmates, with the professional services, I realised that most of the crimes committed was as a result of poverty, poor upbringing and a bad influence.

“It is on this note that I urge the government to have a well structured rehabilitation centre for them in the custodial centre, so that the psychology of the name is not just being changed but a lot being changed about them by getting them upskilled with also a lot of therapy sessions.”

On her part, the NYSC Ekiti State Coordinator, Mary Chikezie, lauded the efforts of Balogun noting that it is in tandem with the reasons behind the formation of the scheme.

Chikezie enjoined the public to assist corps members who are embarking in their personal CDS projects while urging them to desist from stigmatising ex-convicts.

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ECOWAS Youth Council appoints Osungbade youth ambassador

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The Youth Council of the Economic Community of West African States (EYC), has announced the appointment of Osungbade Akeem as its youth ambassador.

This was made known in a letter released recently by the president of EYC, Ambassador Seun Williams, and seen by Tribune Online.

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The letter stated, “This appointment is not unconnected to his laudable antecedents, hardwork and diligence in the area of service to humanity even in the face of oppression and intimidation.

“As a relentless crusader of promoting entrepreneurship for African youths, we are optimistic of his positive impacts in the region and organisation.”

Ambassador Osungbade Akeem, when reached for comments on his appointment, stated that, “Service to humanity is one that I’ve dedicated my life and this is just a call for more innovative actions that would create values among West African youths. I’m glad to accept this as a challenge.”

Akeem is the founder and CEO of Cyberxox, a remote website, application and logo designing agency. He is also the Head of Marketing of Cudium, a cross-border payment technology company.



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