Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has commended the peace undertaking signed by major political parties and their candidates ahead of next month’s general elections.
He however denied endorsing any presidential or governorship candidate for the February elections.
In a statement Thursday, Mr. Soyinka described the move, in which parties agreed to avoid actions that could promote violence during and after the polls, as a step in the right direction.
“It was with high expectations that I went through details of the Abuja peace accord recently agreed by the political party leaders, mandating decent and civilized campaign conduct among the contestants, their agents and supporters,” said Mr. Soyinka, a Professor of Comparative Literature.
“I was not disappointed. It is a positive step in the direction of democracy, for which I must commend the efforts of those seasoned interventionists, Emeka Anyaoku and Kofi Annan.”
Messrs Anyaoku and Annan were in attendance on Wednesday as seven presidential candidates, including President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, candidates of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, and All Progressives Congress, APC, respectively openly spoke against violence and committed to peaceful polls.
Mr. Soyinka said that if adhered to with good will and sincerity, the accord would ensure a wholesome space for future elections, and pre-empt further violence.
“It might even come close to what the democratic ideal should be, as canvassed by others, including Governor Fashola a few years ago – a people’s fiests.”
The Nobel laureate, however, noted with disappointment that the communiqué made no reference to violence done to members of the electorate whose identities are stolen, abused and debased in the run up to elections.
“It is rapidly becoming commonplace to encounter totally fictitious statements, even entire interviews published and attributed to unsuspecting authorship,” Mr. Soyinka said.
“This criminal proceeding has even involved the cloning of media mastheads to which non-existent interviews are then attached. To render it in local parlance, this is political 419, and of the most despicable brand.
“While it would be unjust to place direct responsibility on the contestants, one must stress that they also have a moral responsibility to denounce these dirty tricksters in the strongest terms, even in their own interest.
“The resentment inspired in victims of such cowardly conduct cannot but impact on their own political image. The media must also protect itself by taking necessary measures against such unprincipled confusionists. It is the democratic right of every citizen to know exactly who is saying what on issues that affect their political choices.”
Mr. Soyinka also stated that he had never issued a statement endorsing any presidential or governorship candidate ahead of the elections.
“All such attributions are fabrications by faceless, often self-appointed agents of deception, and should be publicly pilloried,” said Mr. Soyinka.
“Whenever I choose to declare support for a candidate – as is my electoral right – I shall ensure that I deploy a medium that places my authorship beyond dispute. Internet habituees, Social Network etc are urged to be less gullible, and avoid becoming cheap conduits for the deception industry.
“I take a less serious – indeed, near carnivalesque – view of the opportunistic, and sometimes de-contextualized use of genuine quotes from statements I have made in the past – that is a different matter entirely. As a non-pensioned writer however, and thus dependent on the proceeds of intellectual property, such users should expect to hear from my Literary Agents.
“I join General Abdulsalami and others in hoping that 2015 prove a live-and-learn election year, not a do-or-die.”