Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on Friday replied criticism directed at him by supporters of Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, popularly known as ‘Obidients’.
POLITICS NIGERIA reports that had been criticised on social media after expressing displeasure at a statement made by the vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Datti Baba-Ahmed.
Baba-Ahmed, whose ticket with his principal, Peter Obi, emerged third in the February 25 presidential election, had spoken about the Supreme Court in a manner described by Soyinka as “fascistic language”.
But the Nobel laureate’s comment was met with criticism from Obi’s supporters, popularly known as Obidients, who took to Twitter to express their displeasure.
In a statement issued titled, ‘Fascism On Course’, Soyinka said the “seeds of seeds of incipient fascism in the political arena have evidently matured”.
The 88-year-old scholar said: “It would appear that a record discharge of toxic sludge from our notorious smut factory is currently clogging the streets and sewers of the Republic of Liars. It goes to prove the point that provoked the avalanche EXACTLY! “
According to the literary icon, “A climate of fear is being generated.”
He continued: “The refusal to entertain corrective criticism, even differing perspectives of the same position has become a badge of honour and certificate of commitment. What is at stake, ultimately is – Truth, and at a most elementary level of social regulation: when you are party to a conflict, you do not attempt to intimidate the arbiter, attempt to dictate the outcome, or impugn, without credible cause, his or her neutrality even before hearing has commenced. 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.
“The instigating contest – Nigerian Democracy 2023 – has witnessed much that is innovative – largely in the retrogressive vein. Violence and ethnic profiling. “Spiritual” warfare in the shape of sacrificial rams to keep “disloyal” communites under restraint – in short, intimidation yet again! “Easily overlooked however are those missives of violence directed against dissenting voices, real or suspect. Such, for instance, were the virulent attacks and threats to the musician Seun Kuti, his family and iconic music Shrine. His crime consisted of nothing more than declaring the name “Obidient” derogatory to his sense of civic dignity and activist history. Such beginnings – and instances are numerous – have culminated in the open intimidation of the Court of Last Resort, even before proceedings have begun.
“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.
“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.
“Let us remind ourselves of the following: in any adjudication, society finds it unacceptable that a party to the dispute resort to influencing tactics by extra-judicial means – such as bribery. Intimidation and threats are merely the obverse complements of material inducement. Those who fail to appreciate this are entirely free to their existence in an illusory world.”