The war of words between Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former Osun State governor, continued Friday with the former threatening to include the latter in his upcoming compilation of “liars.”
Mr. Soyinka was responding to the former governor’s statement on Thursday insisting that he remained the Chairman of the Board of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding.
Mr. Oyinlola also accused Mr. Soyinka of waging a battle against the establishment of CBCIU in 2008, less than a year after the centre was opened.
”How does one begin to slash through this thickening tissue of lies? Prince Oyinlola must be put to the strictest proof to substantiate several outrageous claims in his recent press statement,” Mr. Soyinka, a professor of Literature, said in his statement on Friday.
“Failing to do so within one week from today will result in his taking his well- earned place in company of the current inmates of ‘The Republic of Liars’ – next in my series of ‘Interventions,’ a public service series published by Bookcraft, due out in the next month.”
Mr. Soyinka went further to deny claims that he had attempted to enlist the support of then president, the late Umar Yar’Adua, to scuttle the establishment of the CBCIU.
“For now, I categorically deny the following:
1. That I, Wole Soyinka, at any time, opposed the creation of the CBCIU in Osun State in act or spirit. This is an allegation of mind-blowing impudence, since the very opposite constitutes the truth.
2. That I ever sought, by word or deed, or encouraged, supported, or even discussed the creation of CBCIU on any spot on this continent outside Osun State, Nigeria.
3. That I ever spoke or wrote to the late President Yar’Adua on the subject of the creation of any such centre in Nigeria or anywhere else. My one and only encounter with the late president was on the subject of the MEND insurgency in the Delta region – as part of a group of intercessors, invited by that president.
4. Similarly, that I ever discussed the CBCIU, privately or on any forum, with Yar’Adua’s successor, President Jonathan. On the contrary, Prince Oyinlola wrote a letter to Jonathan president requesting him to “call Wole Soyinka to order” for “meddling” in the affairs of Osun state, having been “caught” visiting Osun shrine. I was shown a copy of that letter.
5. That I, in my own person, or the governing board of CBCIU did institute, or has ever initiated legal action involving the CBCIU. That the Board should have been involved in the legal proceeding is obvious and logical. The CBCIU Board, created under the current governor, has always taken its legitimacy for granted according to the laws of Osun State.
“Thus it had no cause to drag any aggrieved individual to court. The responsibility for responding to any litigation challenging Osun State laws is, I still assume, the primary responsibility of the lawmakers, not the Board’s.”
The Obasanjo connection
During the press conference he organized in his country home in Osun State, Thursday, Mr. Oyinlola had also accused the Nobel laureate of transferring his hatred for former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, to him.
He also said that repeated efforts to make peace with Mr. Soyinka had met a brick wall.
“Why all these attacks?” Mr. Oyinlola asked the invited journalists.
“I have asked myself repeatedly. Could it be a case of transferred aggression? If he has any problem with his brother elder statesman, General Olusegun Obasanjo. Why transfer the aggression to me? I have never done anything in the past to warrant what I have been getting from this professor of Literature.”
But Mr. Soyinka said he had only “strenuously” opposed a conspiracy by some parties to transfer the Ulli Beier archives to the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, situated in Abeokuta.
“I opposed the recognition of Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library as an affiliate of UNESCO in any category, since that Library is a product of fraud, extortion and corrupt diversion of a nation’s resources,” Mr. Soyinka said.
“In this context, I collaborated with the late Gani Fawehinmi and Femi Falana. Action was taken in the same spirit as has continued to animate a number of Civic Organisations on the continent to prevent international image laundering by African leaders of questionable character, after losing credibility in governance.
“This has included higher institutions of learning and culture where millions were offered to endow chairs in their name.”
Mr. Soyinka further said that he had also opposed attempts by any other claimant to soil the name of CBCIU in their projects, especially those that involve soliciting funds in the name of the Centre.
“The appropriation of public resources for personal benefit, no matter how thickly disguised, and by whatever tortuous devices – including Certificates of Incorporation,” said Mr. Soyinka.
”Oyinlola’s potted history of the origin of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding is – as can only be expected – a bundle of facts, lies, half-truths, irrelevances and dislocated incidentals. He is absolutely right in one off-hand remark however: an ancient stench from the centre has broken the bounds of all attempted containment, a stench known as money laundering.
”Finally, I advise Prince Oyinlola not to make a song and dance of the ritual salute of ‘an officer and a gentleman.’ Those who invented that slogan had yet to encounter the special category of negations within the Nigerian species.”