Obasanjo’s Prison Ex­pe­ri­ences Hit The Stage In La­gos

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - THEATRE -

NIGE­RIA’S for­mer Pres­i­dent, Chief Oluse­gun Obasanjo has con­demned the state of pris­ons, stress­ing that their de­plorable con­di­tion makes any in­mate who comes out of it to be hard­ened in­stead of be­ing re­morse­ful and re­pen­tant of his crime. The for­mer pres­i­dent stated this last week in La­gos at a brief­ing to an­nounce the stag­ing of a play Gula! that chron­i­cles his ex­pe­ri­ences in prison dur­ing Gen. Sani Abacha’s reign of ter­ror.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the pris­ons are yet to play their ma­jor roles of pu­n­ish­ing, cor­rect­ing, re­form­ing and re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing in­mates to the so­ci­ety. He noted that pris­ons across the coun­try are pop­u­lated more by youths in their 20s and 30s, and called on fam­i­lies and con­cerned bod­ies, in­clud­ing re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions, to pay more at­ten­tion to the youths, as they are the pil­lars of so­ci­ety.

Based on a book, The story of ba ba ali, that un­veils some of the prison ex­pe­ri­ences of the for­mer pres­i­dent, the stage per­for­mance starts from Satur­day, Septem­ber 30 to Oc­to­ber 8, at Terra Kul­ture Theatre Arena, La­gos. Jointly pro­duced by Ash­vault Ltd and De­clas­si­cal Arts and Entertainment, the play would be di­rected by Mr. Ken­neth Uphopho.

While speak­ing at the event, the Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­ducer, Tunde Odu­wole, noted that the play brings to the pub­lic some of the ac­tiv­i­ties Obasanjo en­gaged in while in prison, adding that one of the per­sons he met, though then a hard­ened crim­i­nal, has to­day turned a new leaf to be­come a cleric. He noted that the play tells the story of how the for­mer pres­i­dent, while in Yola prison, met and in­ter­acted with Baba Ali, the head of a ruth­less crim­i­nal gang in North­ern Nige­ria and parts of Camer­oun.

Odu­wole said: “While Chief Obasanjo’s life was hang­ing in the bal­ance, be­tween life and death, rather than al­low fear, de­pres­sion, self-pity or lone­li­ness to en­gulf him, he took a per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity to un­der­stand why the prison was full of young peo­ple.”

Ac­cord­ing to him, in find­ing an­swers to this ques­tion, Obasanjo in­ter­viewed a few in­mates and, in so do­ing, met Baba Ali, whose in­ter­view was most en­gag­ing and in­trigu­ing. Ali, the son of a Chris­tian mis­sion­ary, had an­swers to the many ques­tions of, ‘who is to blame for ju­ve­nile delin­quency and crim­i­nal­ity.’ The play tells the story of how Baba Ali, who should be a wor­thy ex­am­ple to em­u­late, turned out to be a ruth­less armed rob­ber and an as­sas­sin. While us­ing drama, dance and mu­sic, Odu­wole noted that Gula! hopes to speak to the state of Nige­rian pris­ons, the need to make them re­form homes for ju­ve­niles, re­ha­bili- tation and re-in­te­gra­tion plans for ex-con­victs, apart from also high­light­ing the is­sue of fam­ily plan­ning among the less priv­i­leged.

Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­ducer, Gula, Mr. Tunde Odu­wole (left); wife of for­mer Pres­i­dent, Mrs. Bola Obasanjo; Obasanjo; and ac­tor, Mr. Tunji So­timirin, at a press con­fer­ence to an­nounce Gula!... in La­gos

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.