By Kennedy Emetulu

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: In all honesty, I’m getting quite pissed with all this attempt at beatifying Professor Wole Soyinka after his clearly insulting comments he’s now trying to pass off as some sagely talk. Soyinka has happily, but thoughtlessly concocted an acidic porridge of words and language to belittle, undermine and deride young people who’ve genuinely questioned his tone-deaf comment. He’s been at it for a while. I think he needs a moment of sober reflection. He needs to climb down from his Mount Olympus, discard his oracular false airs and think deeply about what’s going on with him right now. Sure, he’s our great Nobel laureate, our pride; but how many Nobel laureates in our world has he seen getting into these types of unseemly entanglements he now regularly gets into with young people whenever he opens his mouth? Not even the irascible wahala-magnet, V.S. Naipaul, was this toxic when he was alive. I wonder what Soyinka thinks his legacy would really look like with these latter-day smears on himself.

The counters against those rightfully criticizing him have been blindingly abysmal and so too, to a far lesser extent though, have been some of the counters against him. For instance, some say he went to prison for Biafra and so cannot possibly be an ethnic bigot. Some say he is only talking about Datti Baba-Ahmed’s comment that seemed to indicate he wouldn’t accept the verdict of the courts that do not favour them and so on. They defend his use of the term “fascistic” to describe Baba-Ahmed’s comment and the term “fascism” to describe the criticisms he’s receiving from the Obidients as okay, as though we have all suddenly become clueless about exactly what these words mean and what they connote as a language of politics.

Amongst those countering him, we have had some go off on a tangent making it a case of who is better between Soyinka, their new devil and Chinua Achebe, their revered hero. But this is not a literary contest between Achebe and Soyinka and it is not even a political contest. Achebe is long gone. He’s not part of this discussion. As literary persons, both were not in competition as they are masters of different genres where both did well and received national and international acclaim. As regards politics, Achebe was not a politician or a political activist by any stretch of the imagination. Though he did recognize the moral burden he carried as a writer and social conscience, he was a very private man who once in a while voiced his incandescent opinion in a manner compelling authority. The most political we had ever seen him was when he was talking Biafra – views he’s expressed in There Was A Country.

Please, you all should take a rest. Soyinka was not an ethnic bigot when he dishonestly supported Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 with his atrocious attacks against Goodluck Jonathan and his wife. Some of us took him on when we realized what he was doing with an intellectual sleight of hand; but, as usual, he escaped closer scrutiny because he’s a full card-carrying member of the Nigerian sacred cow fraternity. In 2019, he was fully onboard with his new crowd. Whether he was supporting them because of his Yoruba friends led by Bola Tinubu in the leadership group of the APC or not was irrelevant. We knew that there was no elegant way for him to go back to slurp up his vomit, which he did. In 2007, he wrote a screed that vehemently condemned Buhari and any idea of him seeking to contest for a public office. But in 2015, he was asking Nigerians to forgive the same Buhari. In 2019, he was well-positioned in the high tables of his new friends who’d returned to power after stealing the election of that year and, now, in 2023, he is raising as alibi the fact he was not in the country when all he ought to raise his voice against happened. As he tried to explain it, you would think he was clamped up in a place where he couldn’t get the news or reach people in Nigeria in this 21st century.

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Rather than speak earnestly about the grand atrocity we just witnessed in the name of election, Soyinka went on a selective binge against a comment made by Datti Baba-Ahmed and the conduct of some Obidients he’s using now as stereotypes. And when the world descended on him for his obvious hypocrisy, he wants to drag out Baba-Ahmed for a public debate about what is not really up for debate.

The truth is people change and Soyinka has changed. The Soyinka of the sixties and seventies had, by the eighties and nineties started changing. He had become part of the fascist military establishment lending them his credibility because they were cunningly celebrating him, especially since after he won the Nobel. He had a cover for his jaunts with them with his gig as the Federal Road Safety Corps chief under General Ibrahim Babangida. But soon Sani Abacha woke him up from his slumber on their military bed and he returned to his activist best while on the run in exile. But, that was short-lived. Once Abacha perished and Abdulsalami Abubakar harbingered the Fourth Republic, Soyinka joined his friends in power to clink crystals and enjoy the nationwide privilege of being feted by them. His children and relations got into government by appointment in the AD, ACN and APC political assembly lines. By 2014, he had been wheeled out as the intellectual juggernaut fronting for the Buhari-Tinubu group with his vicious attacks against Jonathan and his wife. Well, we got his Buhari twice and now they’re trying to force-feed us their Tinubu. Soyinka who has obviously lost his voice and moral clarity for more than a decade now has presently been reduced to the Cerberus programmed to attack those they consider threats to the establishment of a stolen Tinubu presidency. If anybody doubted where his loyalties lie, we saw him bare his teeth against his fellow confraternity members who, in exercise of their political clear-headedness, made a sarcastic commentary about Tinubu’s age and evident frailties through a song. Soyinka would have none of it! He would have no one mocking his favourite presidential candidate! That episode told Nigerians the extent he could go to protect Tinubu, his friend.

What we know is actually hidden in plain sight – Soyinka is the intellectual strongman of today’s fascists masquerading as democrats. He is using the well-worn psychological tactic of projection by describing others as fascists so as to deflect attention from himself. And I’m not saying this lightly. It’s a fact. We see it writ-large in the insult-fest of a statement he issued titled, “FASCISM ON COURSE.” The evidence litters the whole piece, but we can just take a look at two grouses of his.

The first:

“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.”

It’s clear what Soyinka is doing here describing as “grotesque fantasy” the genuine concerns of Nigerians who woke up to hear that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Olukayode Ariwoola was in London at a time Tinubu was travelling to London, even though he first flew to France. Granted that the initial press reports were a little wishy-washy, but the facts undisputed are troubling enough! I mean, why the jittery headless-chicken press release made by the Supreme Court spokesperson to explain his travel? Why was it that they’re claiming he went for a medical procedure only for him to furtively return back after the reports of him being in London became public without him undergoing any medical procedure? What says he couldn’t have met with Tinubu secretly in London even as the claim was being made that Tinubu was in France? Tinubu could have left his plane in France and sneaked into London to see him! Of course, whether he did so or not is not known as a fact, but the possibility was clearly there!

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Why should the Chief Justice of the nation put himself in that type of seemingly compromising situation, especially after he’s been caught publicly supporting the G5 in their fight against Atiku Abubakar when we now know the G5 were Tinubu’s agents in the PDP? Soyinka must be told that it is no “grotesque fantasy” for Nigerians who’ve lost all hope in the judiciary to smell a rat and it is not unreasonable for Datti Baba-Ahmed to insist that justice must be done, even with an underlying idea that Nigerians will not lie down and die if justice is not done. Yes, Datti Baba-Ahmed said swearing in Tinubu on May 29 without resolving the matter in court may be the end of democracy in Nigeria, but, really, democracy is on its deathbed already. The poison fed it on the 25th of February is a summon for the undertakers to get ready. Anyway, the SSS, have said they have no reason to arrest Dr Datti Baba-Ahmed because they have not seen any concrete evidence to do so. Soyinka may go present the evidence he has to them, rather than lobby for a useless debate. We recognize clearly what he’s doing here with that comment on the Chief Justice in London. He’s trying to make Nigerians who have seen what they have begin to doubt their sanity.

The second:

“I choose my methods of intervention without the permission of social media border patrols, so where you find a gap, just pick up the baton where last deposited and stop whining and belly-aching – “he stopped talking all this while, why now?” etc etc ad nauseum. Flat, easy disposable lies that gain traction by repetition. However, even more importantly, they remain irrelevant to the rights and wrongs of ongoing material issue. Sadly, these virtue vigilantes succeed with the ignorant and susceptible – especially among the younger, confused generation. The consequence is that the nation is plagued by fake CVs compiled by all kinds of amateur commentators, still wet behind the ears, who have too few truths to build on before they are corralled into positions of No-Retreat. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the effrontery of attempts to place the present contention on the same podium as the twenty-year old anti-Abacha struggle! This gross abuse of historic licence actually provides smug satisfaction for rookie activists. I advise them to seek out the school of survivors where pertinent lessons still exist for those with sufficient humility to LEARN before MOUTHING! Otherwise their world of false mythologies will collapse under their feet, and leave them dangling in the void.”

Soyinka has managed to pack a lot of gratuitous junk into this paragraph, which, arguably, is his most important message or defence. He defiantly declares he chooses his own methods of intervention “without the permission of social media border patrols” as a response to those who question his silence when the nation was being stolen by his friends and, in the same breath, he declares such questions to be flat, easy disposable lies “that gain traction by repetition.” So, which is it? Is it that he was truly silent because he only intervenes when he likes and as he chooses or is it that those who say he was silent are lying?

Of course, knowing he cannot address the question above credibly, in a desperate obfuscatory gambit, he declares that the more important thing is that “they remain irrelevant to the rights and wrongs of ongoing material issue.” Well, they are not irrelevant to the rights and wrongs of ongoing material issue; in fact, they are part and parcel of the ongoing material issue! I mean, why has Wole Soyinka suddenly now found his voice and why is he avoiding talking about the big elephant in the room? Why has he instead decided to pursue rats and cockroaches while our Rome burns? Why is he choosing to attack a party in the election for what seems like a minor ‘crime’, while ignoring the great atrocity of his friends who have stolen Nigeria in broad daylight?

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Soyinka derisively calls those questioning him “virtue vigilantes,” but at this point in our nation’s history, we should wear that as a badge of honour. In fact, we should be proudly hashtagging it.

Seriously, Soyinka knows deep down that he suffers a huge moral minus in this matter, which is why he considers those that courageously call him out on it virtue vigilantes. He thinks this will make his tormentors scamper away. They won’t! He’s twisted the lion’s tail! His attempt to virtue-shame young people he considers “ignorant and susceptible,” the same people he calls a “confused generation,” has only succeeded in bringing him down a notch. The more he does this, the more he’d be taken down a peg because young people are educated enough to see through him. Young people know that you don’t have to be a professional commentator to speak freely as a citizen. They do not have to buy the “truths” of a Soyinka. They live and feel their own truths daily in the harsh national environment created by Soyinka’s heartless friends and they’ll continue to speak those truths, despite Soyinka’s shameless attempt to undermine the pain of the moment by claiming that the young people questioning him have “the effrontery of attempts to place the present contention on the same podium as the twenty-year old anti-Abacha struggle!” What an insult!

If anyone is in doubt that Soyinka is a fascist, this right there is the stone-cold evidence. Only a fascist would tell flesh and blood Nigerians that stealing an election with INEC and the backing of state authority and all state instruments of violence is not as bad as Abacha entrenching himself in office against the popular will. He jauntily claims those making an analogy between today and the Abacha days are involved in a gross abuse of historical licence, but which history is he talking about? Is it the same history he has roundly distorted since he found accommodation in his dark moral orbit for his fascist friends and their costly antics against Nigeria and Nigerians?

He calls those making the analogy “rookie activists,” but at least they are true to their belief, unlike him who’s made a career of being changeling in less than two decades. Soyinka should know that this is today’s young people’s Abacha moment. The fight Nigerians are involved in right now against the Buhari government, INEC and the APC is a pro-democracy fight. The difference with Abacha is that with him, we knew what we were getting. He did not pretend to be a democrat. He proudly wore his uniform and jackboots and hunted us down in the streets. These fascists with Soyinka as their mouthpiece also hunted the people with guns and knives at the polling boots, but, more consequentially, they have stolen the peoples mandate and are waiting for the courts to legitimize their audacious thievery. The courts of Abacha’s days did not kowtow to the googled crook, but we are not sure of the courts of today. In fact, that the courts have said nothing since the petitions of Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar were filed at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal up till now is foreboding, but Nigerians are patiently waiting. Nigerians are not the ones on trial; it’s the courts themselves at the highest levels that are on trial.

Soyinka and his thieving wards can keep on celebrating in expectation of what they think is the inevitable legitimation of their crimes against Nigeria and Nigerians by the courts, but I can assure him that he and his criminal friends will not have the last laugh. Where we are right now, even our corpses will guffaw from the grave.

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