Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka has said Labour Party leaders were being used by a clandestine force, including ex-military generals to truncate democracy in Nigeria.
On Wednesday it was reported that Soyinka also stated categorically that Peter Obi of the Labour Party did not win the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria, and did not even come second.
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.”
The legal icon said 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.”
On Wednesday, SaharaReporters reported that the moderator, Okechukwu “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 the Independent National Electoral Commission (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.’”