UPDATED:Elections: Soyinka rejects Buhari, Atiku for president

Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka

The Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, has denounced the two leading parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – saying they are worthy of “absolute rejection” in the forthcoming general elections.

Mr Soyinka spoke at an interactive session tagged Citizen Forum 2019, titled: “Civic Choice In a Time of Judicial Penkelemes” which held at at Freedom Park in Lagos.

He said he was not interested in discussing the similarities between the two leading parties, but his desire is strictly based on his belief that the time is ripe for the country to take a “totally new direction”.

“It is time for a totally new direction, and when an alternative emerges, we will give the candidate our backing,” he said.

“For the avoidance of doubt, let me make my position quite clear because I don’t want any ambiguity; I Wole Soyinka will not be voting for either the two so called contesting parties. I find both of them worthy of absolute rejection,” he said.

He said he was not the only person who was sick of the APC and the PDP as there are at least two groups of politicians working to come up with consensus candidates strong enough to rival the APC and PDP.

Mr Soyinka said he would throw his weight behind a consensus candidate when one emerges.

“For a number of reasons which I will not go into here, I’m not interested in a comparative assessment. My position is simply that it is time for a totally new direction. And obviously, I’m not the only one, as I’m speaking, there is a coalition having its meeting in Lagos from which they hope to produce a consensus candidate.

“There is another group meeting in Abuja, also at the end would send us their consensus candidate. Things have been going on quietly in the background to try and change the direction of this nation in a very positive way, and to make the public understand that they do not have to be enslaved permanently to the old discredited order. It is my sole business in this election,” he said.

Mr Soyinka said Nigerians should vote creatively instead of negatively for the emergence of a dark horse.

“I don’t believe in what is called negative vote which means, for me, throwing your vote in a waste basket, I believe instead in a creative vote, not a protest vote, not a negative vote but a creative vote. And a creative vote means that the will to at least sow a seed through your vote that will germinate eventually.

“The pace of germination is beyond the control of everyone, but it is never too early to make a beginning. It has happened before in other societies. When a dark horse emerges from nowhere and trumps all the political juggernauts caterpillars and so on with their performers, worthless, their capacity for violence and treachery.”

‘Judicial Penkelemes’

Speaking about last week’s illegal suspension of Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of the Nigeria (CJN), by President Muhammadu Buhari and the appointment of an acting CJN, Mohammed Tanko, Mr Soyinka said every Nigerian government has tried to subjugate the judiciary in one form or the other.

“The judiciary is the best hope for the common citizens. No law, no democracy. No democracy, no society. Successive governments try and hamstring any kind of controlling force within government such as the judiciary. They do it in all sorts of ways. There is hardly any government here even all the way back to the first republic that didn’t attempt to muzzle, destroy or degrade the judiciary in some ways. Methods differ. That is all.

“Oh! Sorry there are one or two exceptions. I would say that one former head of state was an exception. He never tampered with the judiciary. All he did was to ignore them completely including their decisions. And of course, he locked up individuals without trials people like Dele Faseun and the new Are Ona Kakanfo for months.

“That is one way of respecting the judiciary. You don’t give them much work so you don’t bring people to trial. You just lock them away. I make that exception,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, human rights activist, Joe Odumakin, described Mr Buhari’s removal of the CJN as a nullity.

“If the rule of law is not obeyed, governors can wake up one day and do whatever they like. This is not a Banana Republic. Finding an alternative to the rule of law is creating penkelemes,” she said.

Read our earlier story below.

Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, says he would not vote for any of the two leading presidential candidates in next month’s election.

Mr Soyinka, who addressed journalists in Lagos on Thursday, said the two leading candidates deserve “absolute rejection” from Nigerians.

Although there are dozens of presidential candidates for the February 16 election, President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP are considered the leading candidates.

“I Wole Soyinka will not be voting for either the two so-called contesting parties. I find both of them worthy of absolute rejection,” the Nobel Laureate said.

Mr Soyinka, who has called for good governance in Nigeria for over five decades, is believed to have supported Mr Buhari in the 2015 elections.

He has in the past accused the president of acting in office like someone in a trance.

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