Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, on Friday, hinted at how some people had schemed to tilt the country towards having an interim government during the 2023 general elections.
Mr Soyinka spoke at an interactive session during the launch of his book titled “The Putin Files: Excursions Around The Ideology Of Pain” in Lagos. He noted that those who were in support of the interim government were only being manipulated.
There were reports of plots for an interim government in the build-up to the February presidential election and in the aftermath of the election. In a statement, the State Security Service (SSS) said some key players were plotting an interim government for the country, describing it as an aberration and mischievous.
Similarly, the House of Representatives rejected calls for an interim government and warned politicians against “provocative statements.”
A spokesperson for the immediate past president, Muhammadu Buhari, had to openly distance Mr Buhari from such a call even though the main proponents were not publicly disclosed.
Mr Soyinka, the 88-year-old author, said, “Some people had schemed to tilt the country towards having an interim government. That tendency had been apparent even before the election.”
Mr Soyinka’s latest remarks come months after he criticised the ‘Obidients’, supporters of presidential candidate Peter Obi, over their actions on social media, describing them as ‘fascists’.
In February 2023, Mr Soyinka, in an interview with Channels Television, said if Mr Obi lost the presidential election, it would be his followers who caused it. However, reacting to the literary icon’s statement, the Obidients lashed out at him on social media, particularly Twitter.
The Nobel Laureate emphasised that as an elder statesman, he would not keep shut about issues of national interest, especially when it is on the grounds of “false truth”.
He said, “So some of those who thought they were being radical, they were being ‘mumu’, and playing the script of others. They thought they were tough, bold and original.
“You just don’t say it’s who shouts the loudest. If you want to come out based on truth, then no problem. I’ll reverse, but you want to call out people based on the unprovable, even as some people will counter with their strict monologue. I will not stand by it or keep silent. Impossible. Especially as I am more knowledgeable about these things than many people, even though they don’t admit it.”
While responding to a question by a poet, Ogaga Ifowodo, about fascism, the literary icon said the 2020 #EndSars protest was driven by truth and, as such, was the most successful.
The professor narrated how he supported the movement to the point of addressing some protesters when he was leaving Lagos for Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, during the protest.
He highlighted the #EndSars Protest’s genuine pursuit of truth against the supposed designed manipulations of the other movement, which he did not name although many believe he was referring to the Obidients. He said they were trying to mobilise the youths to defend a lie.
“EndSars is one of the most successful movements. It is authentic. It was the expression of people. It is organised. Most importantly, it was based on truth.”
“When I saw the crowd, I came down and addressed them. It reminded me of the anti-Abacha moment. When I would stand in the median and address the crowd. But in this case (referring to the other movement), some people wanted to call people out in a dispute based on possible false truth.”
However, he welcomed criticisms from the unnamed movement. He said he is anticipating their online insults and reactions which he described as their “dictionary of abuses”; but said he would be ready to face them.
“They can go back to the internet, open their dictionary of abuses and start all over again; I will come back and tell them that you are ‘mumu’ (foolish). You were not playing your script,” he said.
“If you are knowledgeable and read books, you should be able to put two and two together to ask questions even before this election starts. Is this what and what was going on then, and then you discuss and form your conclusions?’’
Soyinka’s latest work is two years after his tenth entry for his popular intervention series, Trumpism in Academe: The Example of Caroline Davis and Spahring Partners in 2021.
In the ‘Putin Files’, the eleventh entry, the literary legend takes on the still unfolding and increasingly brutal war in Ukraine.
The author, who released his most recent novel ‘Chronicles of the happiest people on Earth’ after 48 years, shares his opinions on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approach to the war and possible lessons and resolutions the African continent can draw from it.
His blurb questions why Putin has overtaken others to be the most deserving of his criticism and why Africa should be concerned to learn about Putin and his business.
It reads, “Why Putin? Why has he overtaken others as the most deserving, today, of my deadly daggered? Why should Africa, or any entity related to their continent, poke her nose in Putin’s business? Of course, that is assuming that the ongoing human catastrophe in Ukraine is strictly Putin’s business, to begin with?”
Meanwhile, raising a suggestion, a political economist, Kingsley Moghalu, said the subject of the Ukraine war deserved a much more global audience to have the discourse.
He noted that it was an eyesore to see people’s ignorance regarding the war in Ukraine and Africans’ position on it.
He further requested that it is essential that Mr Soyinka take it up because it would be picked up globally.
However, in response, the Nobel Laureate said he should be counted out but acknowledged that the idea was good.
He said, “I agree with taking it to global space, but include me out. Wherever you are, you can talk about it. People need to read. We talk about democracy, but can you take democracy and put it in a pot to cook and feed people? So, there should be a global platform.”
Organisers and guests
The book launch was organised by Bookcraft Africa, the publisher of his Intervention series since 2004.
The launch held at Freedom Park, Lagos Island, and via Zoom featured book readings by Mr Soyinka, including audience members. The session also allowed guests to engage with Mr Soyinka on the book’s subject.
Also, there was a conversation between the Nobel Laureate and a professor of political science, Anthony Kila. The section had Mr Kila ask the author questions, which he responded to as they shared their opinions.
During the session, the audience and guests also got the opportunity to ask their questions on the subject of the book and outside it.
The event, which was more of an intimate gathering of poets, authors and fans, was attended by notable personalities like Lola Shoneyin, Omoyele Sowore, Kingsley Moghalu, Anthony Kila, and Ogaga Ifowodo, among others.
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