Early this year, social media was set on fire over a debate centred around Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, and his purported silence concerning perceived wrongs of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The 83-year old Soyinka has been accused of keeping mum in the face of the inadequacies of Preident Buhari who he endorsed in 2015. 

In Soyinka’s defence, some Nigerians asked his critics to look for another hero as the man has been involved in activism for over 50 years, and it was time to let him be.

But is it absolutely true that Soyinka has been completely silent under the Buhari administration? 

Below are five times in which he spoke about actions of the Buhari government.

1) During 2Face's Planned Protest

In February 2017, when the police insisted that a planned protest by music legend, Tuface Idibia, could not hold, Soyinka did two things:

He spoke publicly about it, even writing an op-ed, in which he accused Buhari’s government of continuing in the tradition of previous governments in attempting to stifle the rights of Nigerians to freedom of peaceful expression.

“Again and again, efforts, both under military and civilian orders have been made to stifle the rights to freedom of expression by Nigerian governments – Buhari, Babangida, Obasanjo, Abacha, Jonathan….and now again, Buhari?” he said. “These efforts have been, and will always be resisted. It is a moral issue, as old as settled humanity. It has been settled in other parts of the world. Nigeria cannot be an exception, not as long as her citizens refuse to accept the designation of second, even third-rate citizens.”

2) When Buhari Refused To Release Details Of His Health Status

“Why is the president hiding his state of health? He’s supposed to understand he’s public property…

“Once you are in Aso Rock, or you occupy a similar position, you have a responsibility to come out frankly to your citizens.

“Guarding your state of health like Donald Trump is guarding his tax returns is not what we expect from a Nigerian president.

“Let him address the nation and stop all these speculations which creates unnecessary political manipulations among other things,” he said.

3) Government Refusal To Release Ibrahim Zakzaky

Soyinka added his voice to the continued detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

“It is illogical and unwise, the continuing detention of their leader in jail. I don’t see why he (Buhari) is still keeping their leader. It is wrong and violates his human rights.”

4) Restructuring Of The Polity

He criticised President Buhari’s argument against restructuring by claiming that the unity of the country is not negotiable.

“That is another ploy to sidetrack the issue. Nobody is talking about disuniting Nigeria, we know there are movements for secession, but let Buhari and others go and address this separately.

“This should not be mixed with the demand of a nation for reconfiguration, people should stop answering demands for secession by pretending to answer the demands for reconfiguration.

“Secession should be a different thing. To try and suggest that the moment you say restructure, you are calling for disintegration, is for me intellectually dishonest, that is not the issue at all.” 

5) Reinstatement Of Suspended NHIS Boss, Usman Yusuf

When he was asked what he would tell President Muhammadu Buhari if he meets him face-to-face.

“I will say to him, Mr President, I think you are under a trance.”

“Too many things are happening now which made me say that. I think he is under a trance,” Soyinka said.

He added that the sooner the President gets out of the trance, the better for the nation.


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