Supporters of Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party, have not taken lightly, recent claims by Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate, that the former Anambra State governor did not win the February 25 presidential election, and was planning to use his supporters to end democracy.
Obi, former governor of Anambra State who came third in the results announced the INEC, is in the court challenging the election.
But Soyinka argued that Labour Party leaders were being used by a clandestine force, including ex-military generals to truncate democracy in Nigeria.
Soyinka stated this while speaking as a guest speaker at the 2023 ‘Africa in the World’ event, a festival that brings together the world’s most innovative thinkers and top leaders to platform invigorating ideas for fresh changes and sustainable solutions for African people.
The event started on Tuesday, September 12 and is scheduled to end on Saturday, September 16, 2023, at Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Soyinka said, “In addition, and this is the worst part. They didn’t know it but they were being used. Before the elections ever took place, there was a certain clandestine force – reactionary. It included some ex-generals who were already calling for an interim government before the elections began.
“Some were well-known figures including even the proprietor of a university calling for an interim government before elections ever took place so the party was playing into their hands. Maybe not consciously – all of them – but some were definitely trying to create a situation to bring back the military.”
According to Soyinka, three emissaries were sent to the “leader”, saying “curb your supporters, tell them to be on their guard”.
“If you lose an election the first time, that doesn’t matter. I said, ‘Tell them to stop threatening, stop intimidating people so it wasn’t something new though I had to stop their getting youths on the streets to be slaughtered, and for what, for a lie,” he said. “That for me was unacceptable.”
However, many supporters of Obi have taken to social media to berate the playwright for his claims.
In his reaction via social media platform, X, Lawrence I. Okoro, @LawrenceOkoroPG, wondered: “Why does Wole Soyinka feel so comfortable saying terrible things against Peter Obi?
“He claims Peter Obi was mobilizing youths for protest, while in truth Peter Obi was the one telling the youths to keep away from protest.
“Youths are blaming Peter Obi for not allowing them protest. Wole Soyinka is saying Peter Obi was mobilizing the youths to protest.”
Another user, OLA MI LEKAN @Onlineguru_, noted: “We were scammed to believe that Wole Soyinka won a Nobel Laureate he actually bought it just the way Tinubu bought his Chicago university certificate. These old folks are the ones drawing these country backwards. Despite calling for peace this useless Cult!st said Peter Obi and LP were planning to cause chaos.”
On his part, Ocular Priest, @Dr_chazduke, said, “Lies from Soyinka won’t give Bob Chicago legitimacy. Peter won the election by a very wide margin from Lagos down to Rivers and Abuja.”
Another user, malcolm omirhobo, @MalcolmInfiniti, a lawyer, said, “While Soyinka tried hard to mislead and misinform the whole world by hammering that Peter Obi did not win the election but he mischievously deliberately refused to address the issues as to whether the election was free, fair , credible and transparent.”
Speaking further, Omirhobo said, “Soyinka lied that the LP leadership attempted to mobilise young people to protest against the outcome of the election on the “banner of lies and deceit”. when in actual fact the people are tied of APC and needed a genuine change.”
Also speaking, lawyer and activist, Abdul Mahmoud, @AbdulMahmud01, noted: “The so-called activists of yesterday, including Soyinka, have come full cycle. Only an unashamed revisionist rewrites events that many bear eyewitnesses accounts with broken limbs and memories of their dead. This man suffers from Old Age Blues.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Okey Ndibe, a novelist and political columnist, asked if the Soyinka who in October 1965 stormed the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in Ibadan to stop a broadcaster from playing the address of the then-Premier of the Western Region, Chief Ladoke Akintola at gunpoint, had changed. At the time, 31-year-old Soyinka, who was a lecturer at the University of Lagos, was believed to have stopped the announcement which would have followed an election believed to have been rigged.
Ndibe wanted to know why the same Soyinka had not been in support of Peter Obi and the Labour Party, who claimed to have won the 2023 presidential election.
Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared the winner of the election by INEC.
Obi, LP, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its candidate in the election and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) challenged the election of Tinubu at the Presidential Election Petition Court but the tribunal dismissed their petitions, describing them as unmeritorious.
In response to Ndibe’s question about what changed, Soyinka said, “Oh, consistency!”
He said, “Truth matters to me; our problem is that many people, they look for shortcuts. Well, I do too sometimes, but I do my homework first. The election you talked about which took place in the Western Region, the notorious gunman episode which in fact for a long time, I insisted on being coy about, I always said, I’m sorry, I was tried and I was acquitted, which is true. I’d say ‘Don’t you believe in the Nigerian judiciary, what more do you want me to say?’
“But I want to stress the fact that I was right in the thick of that election. I also collaborated with a radio unit installed in Oke-Ado through which we were announcing the correct results as we obtained them from the various polling booths.
“In other words, we had the facts on our hands. And the deputy prime minister went on air to boast that they had won. It was a fascistic regime. Before the election, he went on air and said, ‘We don’t need anybody to vote for us. Whether you vote for us or not, the angels in heaven have already voted us in.’ That was his statement on the radio. They were determined and they were a brutal lot.
“The atrocities which they committed; we witnessed them first hand so I wasn’t relying on third-hand information about the election results. We contested throughout; we did our work solidly. Now, this recent election: it is unfortunate that… two things happened. First of all, in this particular instance, one party took over the labour movement, which is one of my favourite movements also.
“And then it became a regional party more than… whereas it was a marvellous breach into the established two camps. Peter Obi achieved something remarkable there, that he broke that mould. However, he did not win the election.
Soyinka explained that a monitoring unit monitored the election “so I could say categorically that Peter Obi’s party came third not even second”.
“And the leadership knew it but they wanted to do what we call in Yoruba ‘Gbajue’. That is, you know you have ‘force of arms,’ you also have ‘force of lies.’”