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Soyinka, Ribadu, Falana speak on Democracy Day in London – el-Rufai sighted at venue

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr Dalhatu Tafida, who denied widespread allegation at the colloquium last night that the Federal Government subtly…

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr Dalhatu Tafida, who denied widespread allegation at the colloquium last night that the Federal Government subtly mobilised to stop the London symposium, said that concerned critics about the state of democracy and democratisation in Nigeria should note that “Democracy is a long and tortuous journey” and we should thus demonstrate greater understanding of the complexities and challenges the process has imposed on us in the last five years as Nigerians.

Soyinka, who was the focal point at the well-attended symposium, was assisted by notable speakers including Malam Nuhu Ribadu now in Oxford for a postgraduate research programme and Mr Femi Falana, among others. Soyinka began his speech on a lighter tone when he humorously said: “Really, Obasanjo did not disappoint anybody about his promise on power…he delivered. [Obasanjo] promised “uninterrupted power, which is the manifesto of the PDP.” The use of the paradox on “power” drew spontaneous ovation from the crowd.

But in a press conference in London yesterday to mark the double celebration of ten years of uninterrupted democracy and two years of the Yar’adua administration, Nigeria’s envoy to the United Kingdom said the Yar’adua administration’s achievements should be properly contextualised as the last two years on the road to true democracy have not been a tea party. His words: “Democracy is a long and tortuous journey. While the yearning and aspiration of Nigerians for quick dividends of democracy are legitimate and understandable, I urge you, my countrymen and women, to demonstrate a greater understanding of the matrix and complexities of the challenges that we face. The solution requires resources with which we are abundantly endowed; the capacity which we continue to seek and rigorous planning which is the hallmark of this Administration”.

The envoy said when he learnt that it was alleged that the Federal Government had through his office attempted to sabotage the gathering of Nigerians at the London Metropolitan University, he did not believe it, saying “The allegation was untrue as we will not do anything to dishonour any gathering to be addressed by the first Nobel laureate in Africa among other important Nigerians. The allegation must have been made to denigrate the present administration”.

Nuhu Ribadu, the former Chairman of the EFCC, who was asked more questions by participants last night, urged Nigerians to shun rhetoric and noted thus: “Let’s start writing our own history”.