16 years after, Nigerian govt names another major road after Wole Soyinka


Tuesday’s renaming of the Arterial Road N20 in Abuja after the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, was the second street named after him in the federal capital city.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, announced the renaming of Arterial Road N20 after the literary giant during the inauguration of the road by President Bola Tinubu.
The president, while commissioning the road, approved the recommendation by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to rename the road, saying the gesture was a testament to Mr Soyinka’s enduring legacy and his contribution to Nigeria and global culture.

“Your recommendation to name this road as Wole Soyinka Way is well received. He is our foremost playwright, novelist, and Nobel prize winner, who has brought Nigeria a pride of international acclaim.

“This gesture is a testament to the enduring legacy of Wole Soyinka and his contributions to Nigerian and global culture. We all accept your recommendation on behalf of the people and the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” President Tinubu said.

Arterial Road N20 is one of the transverse arterial roads connecting the Outer Northern Expressway (ONEX) and the Outer Southern Expressway (OSEX) through the sector centres.
Second-time honour
The honour comes 16 years after a street in the Gwarinpa Estate was named after the distinguished professor, writer and cultural icon, who was the first African to win the Nobel Prize in literature.

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In October 2008, the then Minister of FCT, Aliyu Modibbo, renamed a major street in the estate, as “Wole Soyinka Avenue.”
The Gwarimpa Estate is reputed to be the largest of its kind in Nigeria and Africa.
At the time, the literary giant was honoured alongside 81 other eminent Nigerians.

Mr Modibbo announced the new names at Nigeria’s 48th independence anniversary in honour of Nigerians and foreigners who contributed immensely to the development of the country.
He criticised past military administrations for “inappropriate” naming of most streets after past military governors and colonial masters.
There are, however, indications that the current Tinubu administration was not aware of the existence of Wole Soyinka Avenue.
However, Mr Modibbo, who currently serves as special adviser on general duties to Vice President Kashim Shettima, said he could not remember a street that had earlier been named after Mr Soyinka.
“I am not aware of naming a street after Professor Wole Soyinka, because we named many streets. However, FCTA should have the information in its archive,” said Mr Modibbo, who served in the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES, an official of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak, expressed uncertainty about the street’s existence.
“At the moment, I am not aware of a street like that. Give me time to confirm if there’s a street like that,” the official said but never honoured his promise.

Similarly, officials of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), the body statutorily empowered to name streets in Abuja city, could not be reached for comment.
No law forbids multiple naming of streets after individuals
Although there is no known law that forbids the government from naming multiple streets after one individual, the government appears not to keep track of those who are honoured in this regard.
Expert urban planner, Bassey Bassey, said though it is permissible to name streets and roads after the same person in different areas, there is a need for the FCTA to improve its data management system regarding street and road naming.
“I don’t think that there is a law that prohibits a particular name being given to streets and roads in different locations. So, if there’s no contravention, the government is right to name the road and the street after the same person in different locations,” Mr Bassey said.
READ ALSO: Wole Soyinka, ‘Obidients’ and ‘righteous incivility’, By Jideofor Adibe
Prominent Nigerians with streets, roads named after them
Main streets and roads in Abuja are named after prominent Nigerians and foreigners. Among them former Presidents Murtala Muhammed, Olusegun Obasanjo, Muhammadu Buhari, Yakubu Gowon, Goodluck former Vice Presidents Atiku Abubakar, and Namadi Sambo.
Others are named after former presiding officers of the National Assembly, Chief Justices of Nigeria, former ministers, renowned sports personalities, world and African leaders,
Over 90 per cent of the streets in the Maitama District are named after great rivers of the world while the majority of them in the Garki District are named after towns and cities in Nigeria.
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