Wole Soyinka knocks Obidients, challenges Baba-Ahmed to a live debate
Prof Wole Soyinka has criticised supporters of Peter Obi, Presidential Candidate of Labour Party, over the attacks on his person.
Referred to as ‘Obidients’, Obi’s supporters have been denigrating the Nobel Laureate over one of his recent comments.
In the interview with Channels Television, Soyinka described the Obidient movement a threat to the judiciary.
The professor also said he had told Obi before the presidential election that if he lost the election, it would be his followers who lost it for him.
In their responses, Obidients disparaged the poet who commands respect worldwide.
But Soyinka responded in a statement titled, ‘Fascism on course’.
“A climate of fear is being generated. The refusal to entertain corrective criticism, even differing perspectives of the same position has become a badge of honour and certificate of commitment. What is at stake, ultimately is – Truth, and at a most elementary level of social regulation: when you are party to a conflict, you do not attempt to intimidate the arbiter, attempt to dictate the outcome, or impugn, without credible cause, his or her neutrality even before hearing has commenced. That is a ground rule of just proceeding. Short of this, Truth remains permanently elusive.
“The ensuing cacophony has been truly bewildering. It strikes me as a possible ploy to smother recent provocations by other, far more trenchant issues, such as revelations of declarations of a religious war. If so, let it be known that I have long declared war against religious fundamentalism, the nature of which justifies the butchery, kidnapping and enslavement of students in the name of religion.
“That aspirant’s alleged gaffe cuts no ice with me. Far more alarming was the grotesque fantasy of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court disguised as a wheelchair, zooming off in space to a secret meeting with other parties of the conflict. On its own, that is sufficiently scary. Swiftly followed thereafter by a television tirade of intimidation, it strikes one as more than the mere antics by the mentally deranged. The tactics are familiar: ridicule, incriminate, then intimidate. Objective: undermine the structure of justice .Just as a reminder: this writer was not being rhetorical when he declared, on exiting prison detention: Justice is the first condition of humanity.
“The instigating contest – Nigerian Democracy 2023 – has witnessed much that is innovative – largely in the retrogressive vein. Violence and ethnic profiling. “Spiritual” warfare in the shape of sacrificial rams to keep “disloyal” communities under restraint – in short, intimidation yet again! Easily overlooked however are those missives of violence directed against dissenting voices, real or suspect. Such, for instance, were the virulent attacks and threats to the musician Seun Kuti, his family and iconic music Shrine. His crime consisted of nothing more than declaring the name “Obidient” derogatory to his sense of civic dignity and activist history. Such beginnings – and instances are numerous – have culminated in the open intimidation of the Court of Last Resort, even before proceedings have begun. By the way, I do agree with Seun Kuti; ‘Obidients’ is one of the most repulsive, off-putting concoctions I ever encountered in any political arena. Some love it however, and this is what freedom is about. Choice. Taste. Free emotions. By contrast, I have no quarrel with “Yes Daddy”. Roman Catholics are used to saying “Yes, Father”. Secularists say “Enh, Baba”.
Soyinka also spoke on the interview which Datti Baba-Ahmed, Vice-Presidential Candidate of Labour Party, granted Channels Television on March 22, 2023.
In the interview, Baba-Ahmed had said the country had no president-elect despite the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announcing Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election.
According to the LP vice-presidential candidate, Tinubu would be leading an unconstitutional government if sworn into office because the APC candidate “has not met requirements of the law”.
The interview elicited criticism from political stakeholders as well as a N5 million fine for the TV station by the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).
But Soyinka condemned the fine, saying he watched the programme and noticed how the anchor restrained his guest to no avail.
“May I cease this opportunity, by the way, to condemn the sanctions imposed on CHANNELS Television which anchored the performance of the LP candidate. As stated, I watched the programme keenly – saw the valiant efforts of the interviewer to ensure fair hearing. I fail to understand just where the station could be faulted, except from a disposition for injustice. To sustain that penalty is to give joy to others who turn Internet into a soakaway for their rancid emissions, yet feel that others should be silenced. If CHANNELS feels up to it, I offer myself willing to engage Mr. Datti – or any nominee of his – on its platform on this very bone of contention – one-on-one – without the malodorous intervention of media trolls, and with the same interviewer as mediator. That should be taken as a serious offer.
“Project NIGERIA, I must confess, has become near terminally soul-searing. Do I still believe in it? I am no longer certain but – first, we must rid ourselves of the tyranny of the ignorant and the opportunism of time-servers.”