Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), on Sunday, carpeted Nobel laureate and playwright, Prof. Wole Soyinka, over his criticism of the vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Datti Baba-Ahmed.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the respected octogenarian should stop siding with the oppressors and tyrants whom he had numerously and effusively lampooned in his nearly unending books and plays for more than five decades.
The group reiterated that there is nothing wrong in applying legal means to stop the inauguration of the President-Elect, Bola Tinubu on May 29, 2023 because the February 25, 2023 election that produced him is still being actively challenged in court by leading candidates in the poll.
HURIWA also said going by the freedom of speech articulated in the Nigerian Constitution and other African and International Charters, there is nothing wrong in the statement of the running mate to Peter Obi that Nigeria has no President-Elect yet and the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Kayode Ariwoola should not swear in Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima of the All Progressives Congress.
Soyinka in interviews on Channels Television and Arise TV followed by two statements all within a week had condemned Baba-Ahmed for his “television tirade of intimidation” which he described as “mere antics by the mentally deranged”. Saying “that aspirant’s alleged gaffe cuts no ice with me”, Soyinka challenged Baba-Ahmed to a one-on-one interview which the latter rejected on cultural and principle grounds.
He also labelled Obi’s teaming youthful followers known as Obidients as one of the most repulsive, off-putting concoctions he ever encountered in any political arena.
The playwright, however, doublespeak when he at one breath faulted voter suppression witnessed in some polling units in Lagos State during polls and in another breath said Datti and Obi should allow the court decides.
Commenting on the media disputation between Soyinka and Datti, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “Prof Soyinka should avoid dancing naked in the market square so as to maintain his larger than life legendary status amongst millions of young Nigerians who are the primary victims of the misrule of the corrupt court system and political circle whom Soyinka seems to have sided with.
“There is nothing wrong with criticism and the expression of free opinion that Nigeria has no President-elect as stated by Datti Baba-Ahmed which is the bone of contention between Soyinka and the former Senator and university proprietor.
“The truth is that for some Nigerians who saw the presidential election of February 25 2023 eroded by ethical questions and manipulation of figures by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Nigeria has no President-elect yet. Although in the thinking of INEC, the APC’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu is President-elect but this is in dispute before the court of law.
“There’s nothing wrong with what Datti said. Indeed, the position of Soyinka supports the theory that even some assumed learned people in this 21st century Nigeria align with fascism which is represented by this tendency of seeking to impose restrictions on opinions that people should express which aren’t necessarily hate messages but opinions moulded by convictions.
“We call on Soyinka to stop talking about politics because he is often siding with the oppressors and majority of Nigerians respect him for his many books condensing tyranny.”
April 9, 2023
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.