Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, says he believes that the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, cannot be worse than past presidents because he will be guided by a sense of history. He, however, said that he “is cautiously optimistic” about Buhari’s performance. Soyinka said this while delivering a lecture titled, ‘Predicting Nigeria, Electoral Ironies’ at the Harvard University Hutchins Centre for African and African American Research in the United States, according to a gazette by the institution. A former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington, had asked Soyinka if Buhari could reform Nigeria like the late Singaporean leader, Lee Kuan Yew.
In his response, Soyinka said he was optimistic. He added that Buhari might deal ruthlessly with corrupt politicians. Soyinka said:
“I am very, very cautiously optimistic.”
He predicted that Buhari would be influenced by those around him to “keep his nose to the letter of the law. In his zeal to absolutely eradicate corruption, he might take advantage of ambiguous areas in the law and the constitution to empower himself to deal very ruthlessly and quickly with those who have robbed the nation blind.” Soyinka reasoned that Buhari was unlikely to do worse than his predecessors. He, however, said it would be naive for Nigerians to think that Buhari is the messiah. He said:
“I think that Buhari has a sense of history. He knows that he must make a mark, a very positive mark, on Nigeria to be able to live with himself, or die with a clean conscience. We must make sure that Nigerians are not allowed to forget his past. They should not think that the messiah has finally arrived. I think we stay on guard and continue to do what has needed to be done for the past 20 years or so.”
Soyinka said he believed that terrorism would continue for a long time because those perpetrating the act were of the belief that they were doing God’s work. He said:
“We will never get rid of Boko Haram. They are jihadists who wish to impose Sharia law and ban Western learning across Nigeria as indoctrinated. They are fanatics who believe that if they die in the cause, they will go straight to heaven where they believe literally in the 77 virgins awaiting their arrival.”