Wole Soyinka, a Nobel Prize winner, was reprimanded by the Labour Party’s leadership for saying that the party tried to deceive Nigerians into thinking that Peter Obi, its presidential candidate, won the contentious election on February 25.
The criticism follows a statement made by Soyinka on Wednesday at a conference called “The Lives of Wole Soyinka — A Dialogue,” which took place in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
The eminent author had emphasized that despite Labour Party leadership’s knowledge that Obi finished third, they continued to “gbajue” (force people to believe a lie) the populace, particularly the younger generation.
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However, the Obi camp and high-ranking Labour Party members did not take kindly to his remarks.
Obiora Ifoh, the Labour Party’s national publicity secretary, responded in a statement released in Abuja on Thursday, describing Soyinka’s statement as being out of character for a man who is highly regarded as a detribalized statesman.
Ifoh further claimed they could not believe that the playwright could fall victim to the “groupthink syndrome” based on fundamental concerns in the release titled “Soyinka: Statesmen are not double-faced, not blind to the truth.”
Groupthink syndrome is a phenomenon that happens when people come to an agreement without using critical thinking or weighing the pros and cons.
He declared, “Professor Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian whose literary accomplishments are unquestionably intimidating. However, we respectfully object to his assessment of and personal opinion regarding the performance of our party in the general elections of 2023. Because the facts are in front of the courts and we respect our judiciary, we will hold off on commenting until the Supreme Court issues its ruling.
We recognize that the literary giant is human and therefore prone to emotion, and that he likely made his remarks based on information provided to him by people who agree with the ‘Emilokan’ viewpoint.
“It is very perplexing and unsettling that a detribalized activist like Soyinka would fall victim to the ‘groupthink syndrome’ that supports state capture by those on the criminal fringe by any means, based on primal considerations.
We greatly appreciate him for at least partially crediting the Labour Party and its presidential candidate for ending the two other parties’ previously held monopoly of power.
The spokesman went on to say that he was disappointed that Soyinka chose a position rather than denouncing some irregularities in the run-up to the most recent general elections and the abject failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
But Ifoh came to the conclusion that “Kongi” was a Nigerian and had a right to express his views.
The 2023 general election was closely watched by everyone in the world, and there was widespread condemnation of both the results and the electoral process, particularly the “glitch” that only happened when transmitting presidential results to IREV. When Kongi urged INEC to keep its word, we barely heard a murmur from him.
We won’t claim that Soyinka’s selective amnesia was the cause of his incorrect prognosis, but we would have anticipated him to be a statesman, which we believed he was by erring on the side of caution.
“We want to also let him know that creating a new Nigeria is a dream whose time has come and Nigerian youths will not relent until such dream is realized,” he added.