Senate President, David Mark, Governor Adams Oshiomhole and former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu at the weekend congratulated Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on the occasion of his 80th birthday anniversary, describing him as a rare gem who had touched many lives and brought honour and dignity to Nigeria and the entire black race.
Mark in a congratulatory message, described Soyinka as an international scholar and a world citizen who brought pride and honour to Nigeria when he won the Nobel laureate prize in 1986, adding that the new octogenarian had continued to shape the future of younger generations.
“Professor Soyinka is a pride to Africa. His kinds are few. We cannot appreciate him enough . His intellectual prowess is equal to none. Many successful Nigerians passed through him. Many more would profit from his fountain of knowledge and wisdom.
“As the erudite professor marks his birthday, I pray and wish him good health, peace and abundant wisdom to continue to contribute to the development of Nigeria,” Mark said.
According to him, Nigerians and indeed all citizens who seek and appreciate knowledge will ever remain grateful and indeed indebted to Soyinka especially for his literary works.
He also said the Senate and the entire National Assembly were unanimous “in congratulating this son of Africa and a true citizen of the world on this special occasion of his birthday.”
On his part, Oshiomhole congratulated Soyinka, saying he remains a source of inspiration and pillar of support.
In his congratulatory message, Oshiomhole said: “Over the years, whereas many to whom our nation has given so much often conduct themselves in a manner that undermines national unity, but Soyinka, who has brought global glory to Nigeria, has done more to cement our nationhood without demanding much. You have not only written volumes seeking to cement our nationhood, but at some point even had to endure 20-month solitary confinement to keep Nigeria one.
“As a global statesman today, your greatness lies not only in your extra-ordinary literary talent and creativity but also the tireless energy you always exert in the pursuit of your convictions.
“For you, art is nothing if not deployed as a weapon to extend the frontiers of liberty and elevate the human civilization. From your classic, “The Man Died”, we draw timeless inspiration never to be afraid of telling truth to the power that be. That it is more honourable to die fighting on our feet than on our knees before the oppressors.
“As a hardcore labour man myself with the privilege of leading the Nigerian workers’ movement as two-term president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), I attest that you are a true comrade at the barricade in the true sense of the word. “In the popular resistance of military dictatorships in the 1990s, you joined us on countless occasions on the street to fight for freedom. Even when the
“Praetorian Guard drove you into exile and sentenced you to death in absentia, you never failed to connect with those of us left at the barricade at home to deepen the struggle for liberation.
“With the return of democracy in 1999, age would still not deter you from joining us in street marches against government’s anti-people policies, even in the face of the ambush of armoured tanks.
“For us, the government and good people of Edo State, you have remained a source of inspiration and pillar of support, in our determined effort to liberate our people from the shackles of political oppression by a few political “godfathers” and expand in a meaningful way, the frontiers of good governance, democracy and development.”
In his own birthday message to Soyinka, Tinubu said no word can describe what the Nobel laureate had achieved professionally and as well as a patriot.
“You are one of a kind. You have become the conscience of our nation, pricking us and alerting us to the dangers ahead. You have not stopped there; you have gone further to proffer solutions in a timely and comprehensive manner on how to move things forward. Your words and interventions continue to resonate here at home and globally.
The statement signed by Tinubu’s media aide, Sunday Dare read: “You remain one of the few truly celebrated Nigerian icons and a solid and powerful voice. Indeed, one of the very few powerful voices who continue
speak up against injustice, inequality and creeping fascism. The more they try to diminish you, the more your status rise in distinction to their incoherence and verbiage. Each time they try to silence you, your voice rings out louder and clearer. You have always said, “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism” and you are being proved right with our experience. We take instruction in these words of yours.
“Nigeria’s search for true democracy remains on course because of your unrelenting and lucid interventions. Through the years you have demonstrated a fierce commitment to the Nigerian project and worked assiduously with different groups and organisations in the singular effort to ensure that Nigeria’s democracy survives and we achieve an egalitarian society.
“I identify with you in this struggle for a better and greater Nigeria and stand side by side with you in your condemnation of the impunity of the present administration and the demand you have made that the current Nigerian government has a case to answer for all the unconstitutional acts it is perpetrating.”