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Last Updated: Monday, 18 October, 2004, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
'Things fall apart' in Nigeria
Chinua Achebe
Achebe: "Nigeria does not work"
World-famous Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has rejected an award from his home country, criticising the "dangerous" state of affairs.

"The situation is getting worse and worse," he told the BBC, saying that President Olusegun Obasanjo bears primary responsibility.

Achebe's most famous book, Things Fall Apart, has sold some 11 million copies around the world.

Nigeria is Africa's major oil producer but two-thirds of the people are poor.

'Lawless fiefdom'

"Nigeria is a country that does not work," he said: "Schools, universities, roads, hospitals, water, the economy, security, life."

There was a four-day national strike last week over a rise in fuel prices, while more than 10,000 people have been killed in communal clashes since Mr Obasanjo was elected in 1999.

Achebe told the BBC's Network Africa programme that he hoped that rejecting the Commander of the Federal Republic - Nigeria's second highest honour - would serve as a "wake-up call".

He also said that he hoped the recent wave of strikes and protests would continue until there is "change".

A special advisor to President Obasanjo, Femi Fani-Kayode, told the BBC that Achebe had the right to reject the award.

But he said the author had lost touch with some of the events in Nigeria during time spent abroad and said a lot of progress had been made since President Obasanjo came to power, with fewer living in poverty.

In his two-page letter about rejecting the honour, published in Nigerian newspapers, Achebe was most scathing about the situation in his home state of Anambra in the south-east.

"A small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom."

Anambra state governor Chris Ngige was last year kidnapped and forced to write a resignation letter at gun-point.

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