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Why Soyinka Warned Obi About Obidients’ Excesses

Why Soyinka Warned Obi About Obidients’ Excesses

Prof. Wole Soyinka, a Nobel laureate, claims that his recent interview with Channels Television was twisted, making his comments virtually unrecognizable.

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On Monday, the TV station aired the one-and-a-half-hour interview it held with Soyinka a week earlier, to rave reviews from numerous media outlets.

But, the dramatist Tuesday reaffirmed his stance in the interview in a statement titled, “Media duty.”

He insisted that he had long rejected fascism and that, on three occasions, he had been able to tell Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, that if he lost the election, it would be his supporters who did so on his behalf.

Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka

He stated, “What I have read – at least, thus far – this morning, extracted from a one-and-a-half long interview, conducted a week ago with Channels Television, brings once more to the fore, the critical responsibility of the media in transmitting the spoken, even recorded – word to the public. This is especially crucial in a time of civic uncertainty. When remarks are taken out of context, spliced into a new one, or provided a sensational headline, distortions become stamped on public receptivity, and the central intent of one’s remarks becomes completely unrecognizable.

“I denounced the menacing utterances of a vice-presidential aspirant as unbecoming. It was a gladiatorial challenge directed at the judiciary and, by implication, the rest of the democratic polity. But what on earth has happened to my even more urgent condemnation of the physical violence inflicted on those designated “strangers” in Lagos in the lead-up to, and during governorship elections? This prejudicial selectivity is a betrayal of trust, and I find it contemptuous of public deserving. My critique of incipient fascism in the movement remains grounded in indisputable evidence.”

Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka

“My rejection of fascism is nothing new. On three occasions, I was able to send a message to Peter Obi that if he lost the election, it would be his followers who lost it for him. It was depressing to watch his lieutenant, a crucially positioned voice of a movement that has ‘broken the mould’, threaten the totality of social existence.

“Whatever our ideological leaning, is Donald Trump the ideal template for a burgeoning democracy in the nation?” he queried.

He stated that he also remained concerned by the alleged complaint by him of people not following “instructions”.

He advised rather than publishing an unclear section of a person’s speech, the person should be reached for clarification, or leave that part out completely.

“If words are garbled in recording, the speaker can be reached for clarification – else, simply leave out the unclear section completely to avoid misrepresentation. After all, piecemeal transmission is legitimate proceeding, as long as a part is not presented as the whole.

“I am not a member of the Labour Party, so how can giving ‘instructions’ become my role? Like a number of others, I have admittedly contributed to the making of this moment – going back several years – and it is painful to have the followers of such a movement, send it slithering backwards and down the fascistic slope, ” Soyinka added.


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