Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State yesterday praised the Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, as he clocked 87.
Soyinka, a 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature winner, was the first sub-Saharan African to be honoured in that category.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, in Asaba, Okowa rejoiced with the literary icon on the anniversary, noting that Soyinka has remained one of Nigeria’s greatest pride and biggest export to the world.
Okowa stated that Soyinka’s many years of outstanding accomplishments and consistency in the crusade for the wellbeing of citizens had culminated in his legendary status, making him great pride to Nigeria, Africa and the entire black race.
He also extolled Soyinka for his intellectual sagacity and for being an unstoppable loud voice on contemporary national issues.
According to the governor, Soyinka is a renowned advocate of truth, justice and equity, who always align with the populace in the clamour for good governance.
“As he clocks 87, it is my prayer that Nigeria will yet again enjoy the benefit of having another generation of Soyinka to impact the lives of the people and project Nigeria and Africa with great honour to the global community,” he added.
Fayemi, in a Facebook post yesterday, described Soyinka as “a defender of the defenceless”.
“We celebrate an iconic personality. A patriot of high repute. Our mentor and hero. A defender of the defenceless. An advocate of truth, fairness and equity. A man of whom justice is the first condition of humanity. One of the very best our country has produced. Wishing you many more blessed and impactful years,” he said.
Abiodun, also in a Facebook post, said the state was blessed to have produced the “rarest breed of humankind.”
“On July 13, 1934, the heavens bestowed on Ogun State, Nigeria and Africa as a whole, the rarest breed of humankind.
“From being the conscience of the nation, you conquered the world as a playwright, poet, essayist and public intellectual.
“At 87, we proudly celebrate an enigma whose kind only Ogun State has the privilege of laying claim to. Congratulations, Prof,” he added.
Activist and President, Women Arise, Mrs. Joe Okei Odumakin, in a statement, reminisced on Soyinka’s life as an activist from the dark days of military despotism.
She said: “When there were no civil society groups to serve as the conscience of the masses, you filled the void acting as a one-man riot squad!
“The rogue regime of Ladoke Akintola in the defunct Western Region bears you witness.
“When the Nigerian constitution was yet to assign the media the role of holding government accountable to the people, you had picked up the gauntlet and filled the gap. Your role in the Nigerian civil war and your epic novel, The Man Died, bear you witness!”
Young leaders around the world also held visual and live discourses in honour of the Nobel laureate, as part of the 13th edition of the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE) project.
WSICE has been a global networking and empowerment platform for scholars and intellectuals.