Allow Judges Do Their Job, Soyinka Tells Obi Supporters

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Playwright, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has described Obidients as one of the most repulsive, off-putting concoctions he ever encountered in any political arena.

Obidients is a term describing supporters of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, who contested the February 25 presidential election.

The elder statesman spoke in a statement on Friday titled, ‘Fascism on course (I)’.

Earlier, Soyinka on Channels Television and later on Arise TV, condemned what he termed the fascist language of the vice-presidential candidate of the LP, Datti Baba-Ahmed, by attempting to dictate judgment to the Supreme Court during a Channels TV interview on the poll won by the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Besides, Soyinka faulted voter suppression witnessed in some polling units in Lagos State during the March 18 governorship and House of Assembly poll among other issues.

The Nobel laureate on Tuesday in a statement titled, ‘Media responsibility’, also dwelt on related issues bordering on the presidential election, noting that his interview with Channels TV was distorted, thereby rendering his remarks completely unrecognisable.

But the Obidients trolled Soyinka online, abusing him and an ex-deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu, who in a Tweet, identified Soyinka’s objectivity and described him as “a phenomenon that unlettered and uncultured people may not fully understand in an age of lazy social media in which many don’t read or think deep.”

Obi and the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, are currently challenging the poll result in court.

Soyinka, in his latest statement, said it would appear that a record discharge of toxic sludge from the nation’s notorious smut factory was currently clogging the streets and sewers of the republic of liars.

He said, “It goes to prove the point that provoked the avalanche exactly! The seeds of incipient fascism in the political arena have evidently matured. A climate of fear is being generated. The refusal to entertain corrective criticism, even differing perspectives of the same position has become a badge of honour and certificate of commitment.”

He further said that on the issue, truth was ultimately at stake, counselling that at a most elementary level of social regulation: when one was a party to a conflict, one shouldn’t attempt to intimidate the arbiter, attempt to dictate the outcome or impugn without credible cause, his or her neutrality even before hearing had commenced.

The elder statesman stated, “That is a ground rule of just proceeding. Short of this, truth remains permanently elusive. The ensuing cacophony has been truly bewildering. It strikes me as a possible ploy to smother recent provocations by other, far more trenchant issues, such as revelations of declarations of a religious war.

“If so, let it be known that I have long declared war against religious fundamentalism, the nature of which justifies the butchery, kidnapping and enslavement of students in the name of religion. That aspirant’s alleged gaffe cuts no ice with me.

“Far more alarming was the grotesque fantasy of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court disguised as a wheelchair, zooming off in space to a secret meeting with other parties of the conflict. On its own, that is sufficiently scary. Swiftly followed thereafter by a television tirade of intimidation, it strikes one as more than the mere antics by the mentally deranged.

“The tactics are familiar: ridicule, incriminate, then intimidate. Objective: undermine the structure of justice. Just as a reminder: this writer was not being rhetorical when he declared, on exiting prison detention: Justice is the first condition of humanity.”

“By the way, I do agree with Seun Kuti; ‘Obidients’ is one of the most repulsive, off-putting concoctions I ever encountered in any political arena. Some love it, however, and this is what freedom is about; choice, taste, free emotions.”

He also commented on the viral audio conversation between Obi and the Founder, Living Faith Church Worldwide, Bishop David Oyedepo, where the former, who labelled the audio as doctored, purportedly described the poll as a ‘religious war’ and punctuated the conversation with “Yes Daddy.”

On that, the Nobel laureate said, “By contrast, I have no quarrel with ‘Yes Daddy’. Roman Catholics are used to saying ‘Yes, Father’. Secularists say ‘Enh, Baba’. The context and content are what matters, and lies – where established – raise bothersome issues such as integrity deficiency.”

He added that in any adjudication, society found it unacceptable that a party to the dispute would resort to influencing tactics by extra-judicial means – such as bribery, noting that intimidation and threats were merely the obverse complements of material inducement.

He stated, “What the nation needs to know right now is if you are planning to send assassins after such negative analysts! Coming to terms with an unpalatable projected eventuality – sorry – possible eventuality, counsels deep reflection, not demonisation of the bearer of sour news.

“For the seriously committed, it requires pulling back the horns a little in order to regroup, rethink and resurge. Democracy is sometimes a long haul. Some of us have been at it for quite a while.”

Pre-empting that his position in the statement could generate more online attacks from the Obidients, Soyinka said, “I am well aware that the foregoing is further invitation for more nauseous bilge from the besotted. Please, be my guest. It is, after all, one of those special seasons of convergence of two seasons of self-flagellation.”

Condemning the N5m fine imposed on Channels TV by the National Broadcasting Commission over the controversial Datti interview, the essayist said he was willing to engage the LP vice-presidential candidate on the contentious interview or any of his nominees if Channels TV was willing.

He stated, “May I seize this opportunity, by the way, to condemn the sanctions imposed on Channels Television which anchored the performance of the LP candidate. As stated, I watched the programme keenly – saw the valiant efforts of the interviewer to ensure fair hearing.

“I fail to understand just where the station could be faulted, except from a disposition for injustice. To sustain that penalty is to give joy to others who turn Internet into a soakaway for their rancid emissions, yet feel that others should be silenced.

“If Channels TV feels up to it, I offer myself willing to engage Mr Datti – or any nominee of his – on its platform on this very bone of contention – one-on-one – without the malodorous intervention of media trolls, and with the same interviewer as mediator. That should be taken as a serious offer.”

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