Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has said that some Niger Delta militant groups had reached out to him in their efforts at interfacing with the Federal Government on the current militancy in the region, pleading with the government to genuinely listen to the agitators.
This came as traditional rulers from the region listed the cessation of hostilities by the military, reopening of Maritime University and release of individuals detained, among others, as conditions for enduring peace. Noble Lareate, Playwriter and Poet, Prof Wole Soyika Soyinka also said he had passed on the message of what was happening in the region to some international figures in London, but emphasised that no international interventionist group had been formed on the matter.
Briefing newsmen, yesterday, in Lagos at an event convened to update the nation about the activities of Wole Soyinka Foundation, Soyinka debunked reports where he was credited to have said that an international interventionist group had agreed to meet President Muhammadu Buhari on the crisis. Soyinka, who demanded accurate reportage of the issue, given its sensitive nature, disclosed that the Cedars Institute, Notre Dame University, Lebanon, and the Wole Soyinka Foundation would partner on a programme designed to promote cultural dialogue.
He, however, said the programme, entitled The Sail Project, was an intensive course for international students, adding that it would assist in bridging the social, racial and cultural gaps inherent in human relations.
He said: “I wish to make an appeal to the government to respond positively to the outreach from the militant groups. That is the request which has been made by some of the groups. “At the moment, they feel that the government of President Buhari is not seriously responding to them. And I will make a personal appeal to the government to respond positively and let us see where it ends. “But I am not part of any international group, I was approached personally and I have 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 to please respond to the efforts of these militant groups to arrive at a holistic and comprehensive solution. “When I was ambushed at the villa the other day, I did say that I would answer questions on my visit to the Villa at a press conference that I had already planned, which is this one as a matter of fact. ‘’What I have to say is that today is not the day I will talk about that visitation and the real reason is this, I had a meeting with the House of Lords in London.
The meeting was not about the main subject that took me to Aso Rock which, among other things, is the problem we have in the Delta. “But I used that opportunity to meet a certain number of international figures, parliamentarians, royal heads to pass on a message internationally to prospective interveners in what is happening in the Delta at the request of some of the militant groups.
“That meeting was reported in the media and it was badly distorted. Let me make a plea, it is bad enough distorting whatever happens on certain subjects. But on an issue like the insurgency in Nigeria, the Delta, in particular, we have very delicate grounds and the media has a huge role to play in that.”