Speaking at a press conference in Lagos on Thursday, legendary writer, playwright and Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has disclosed that he has been contacted to intervene in the Niger Delta crisis, and appealed to the government to ‘respond positively’.
The legendary literature icon who did not clarify his role, lashed out at the Nigerian media, accusing them of‘extreme invention and distortion of facts’, added that he would no longer be speaking to the local media over issues concerning Nigeria’s efforts to end militancy in the Niger Delta.
Soyinka who had met with President Muhammadu Buhari on August 11, and reportedly told state house journalists afterwards that he discussed “national and international matters, general matters with Buhari, said;
“I know that when I was ambushed at the Villa the other day, I did say that I would answer questions about my visit to the Villa at a press conference that I‘d already planned, which was this one as a matter of fact.
“But I always fulfill my word, and so I’m going to speak very briefly about that visitation. And what I have to say about it is that today is not the day for talking about that visitation.
“And the real reason is this, let me tell you media, the real reason is that I had a meeting in London in the House of Lords. The meeting was not about the main subject that took me to Aso Rock which is the problem with, among other things, the problem we have in the Delta.
“But I used that opportunity to meet a certain number of international figures, parliamentarians, royal heads, etcetera, to pass on a message internationally to prospective interveners to what’s happening in the Delta at the request of some of the militant groups here.
“Let me make a plea, it’s bad enough distorting whatever happens, events, statements on certain subjects, bad enough. But on an issue like the insurgency in Nigeria, the Delta in particular, we are on very very delicate grounds and the media has a huge role to play in that.
Soyinka, however, appealed to the Nigerian government to hold positive negotiations with the Niger Delta militants in order to solve the crisis in the region
“I wish to make an appeal publicly to the government, and please report me accurately, to respond positively to the outrage from the militant groups.
“That is the request which has been made by some of the groups who got me into this interventionist role in the first place. At the moment they feel that the government of President Buhari is not seriously responding to their own outrage. And I wish to make a personal appeal to the government to respond positively and let us see where it ends us.
“But I’m not part of any international group, I was approached personally and I’ve been responding personally to some of these groups just as I did when President Jonathan was in power and MEND was the umbrella group of the insurgents.
“So I make that appeal once more to the government, please respond to the efforts of these militant groups to arrive at a holistic and comprehensive solution.
“Please don’t attribute to me things I never said.”