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Bombs kill 8 on Nigeria's 50th anniversary

Terror bombings prompt Nigerians to ask 'What do we have to celebrate?'

Since the handover in 1999 from military rule to a civilian government, Nigerian politics have been dominated by the People's Democratic Party, which rules over the unruly and corrupt electoral system.

Soyinka described his new venture as a "zero resource" party that would take in no money. It is clearly a jab at Nigeria's culture of government graft and corruption.

"The nation is comprehensively sucked dry by a minority that is so lubricated that they slip out of grasp when their hands are caught in the till," Soyinka said. "This party resolves to overturn the lugubrious arrangement by which the national cake is swallowed entire by those whose appointed task is to serve their employer, which is the sovereign electorate."

Soyinka won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, the first African honored with the award. The essayist and playwright has a penchant for the dramatic. He once single-handedly stormed a Nigerian radio station with a pistol to try to prevent a corrupt politician from claiming an election victory. But he also served as a staunch critic of the excesses of the military dictators who pilfered Nigeria's oil money for years after the nation's gained its independence from Britain in 1960.

More recently, Soyinka led a protest in Nigeria's capital Abuja over the long-term hospitalization of late President Umaru Yar'Adua, whose absence ground government to a halt for months.

Another leader who has not given up on Nigeria is the country’s “accidental president” Goodluck Jonathan. The genial Jonathan was a little-known politician selected to be vice president to Yar’Adua. But since becoming president when Yar’Adua died, Jonathan has set out to reform Nigeria’s political system and has vowed to stamp out high-level corruption. Not surprisingly many in Nigeria’s political ruling class are opposed to Jonathan’s efforts to change the deeply entrenched system.

Jonathan was nearby in Abuja when the deadly bombs exploded. The political violence may well strengthen the president’s hand so that voters support his efforts to clean up Nigeria’s politics and economics.

That would give Nigerians something to celebrate.