By now, it is clear to one and all that Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, is decidedly partisan on issues pertaining to the 2023 presidential election. He tried hard enough, initially, to mask his sympathies and loyalties. But recent developments have laid him bare. He is now unable to hold back.

Soyinka himself knows this much. He betrayed this tendency copiously while reacting to the criticisms that trailed his faux pas in South Africa penultimate week. He declared, rather blandly, that Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar lost the February 25 presidential election even before the election held. His reason? That both candidates split the votes of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and, consequently, granted Tinubu and his All Progressives Congress (APC) an easy access to victory.

Having crossed the rubicon on issues concerning the 2023 presidential election, Soyinka does not appear interested any longer in sounding logical. That was why he made that fallacious submission without batting an eyelid.

Those who know the factors that shaped the three-horse race that we had on February 25 will appreciate the fact that Obi was a force all by himself in that election. His candidacy was a mass movement anchored around those who want a breath of fresh air in Nigeria. For this reason, Obi enjoyed a mass appeal. He did not therefore need a PDP collaboration to win. In the same vein, PDP, once the ruling party, was formidable in its own right. It has a national support base just like the APC. It did not therefore need the collaboration of any party, including Obi’s Labour Party, to win a national election. In other words, both the Labour Party and the PDP were strong enough, individually, to defeat the APC in a national election. The 2023 presidential election would have been a living proof if the process was not manipulated in favour of the APC by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Buhari’s outgoing APC administration. For a man of deep intellect and introspection like Soyinka to pretend not to know this smacks of blind partisanship.

As we have already noted, Soyinka can no longer afford the luxury of indulging in pretentious hibernation. He has finally buckled under the intense weight of prejudice. Having stepped out of his closet, he can now throw caution to the wind as he did in South Africa while trying to denounce Obi’s claim to the Presidency. He did not mind the fact that the Supreme Court of Nigeria is yet to sit in judgment on the matter. The enraged Soyinka could not wait for that. He practically told the court not to waste its time on the matter because, according to him, Obi did not win the election.

That was Soyinka’s oracular declaration. In it, you could see prejudice and disdain walking on all fours. The impatient and irritable Soyinka would not allow the Justices of the Supreme Court to do their work. He must impose his will on them. One thing is instructive here. By his declaration and submission, Soyinka has affirmed that the result declared by INEC is correct in every material particular.

One is then constrained to ask: why did it take Soyinka such a long time to declare his position on the 2023 presidential election? This is especially in the light of the controversies that have dogged the polls. This is one election that has been adjudged as the worst in Nigeria’s electoral history. Everybody also agrees, except for a few vested interests, that Bola Tinubu did not win the election. For a Soyinka who never weighed in on the controversy thus far to declare off-handedly that the result as declared by INEC is correct is strange.

What this means in clear terms is that Soyinka has been pretending. He never joined the debate over the flawed elections despite the disquieting scenarios that should pull a patriot out.

We had an election in which the electoral commission embarrassed the country by its refusal to play by the rules. It respected neither the Electoral Act nor its own guidelines in the conduct of the election. The breaches gave rise to a number of denunciatory reports and evidences about how results were manufactured in a number of states in favour of Tinubu with special reference to Rivers State. An investigative inquiry carried out by the BBC presented us with graphic details of what transpired. The report was never refuted nor disputed by those who manipulated the process. Even the electoral commission could not disclaim it. What was Soyinka’s position on this? He had none.

What about the verdict of the European Union Election Observation Mission on the election? Its report had noted, among other things, that the 2023 general elections did not ensure a well-run transparent and inclusive democratic process as assured by INEC. Its submission was that public confidence in INEC was severely damaged on 25 February due to its operational failures and lack of transparency. Anybody who was in Nigeria on the day of that election will readily align with the report. Soyinka was here with us when the infractions took place. But he did not speak up. His studied silence gives him away as partisan and biased. That is why he is clinging tenaciously to a man whose presidency can only be an embarrassment to Nigeria.

In the course of the debate over the presidential election, the world has come to know that Tinubu’s background is anything but transparent. Issues around this are being hotly contested in the courts. Yet, Soyinka, the apostle of transparency in public office, is not bothered about this. For Soyinka to bury his head in the sand while all this is going on smacks of hypocrisy.

What about the vexed issue of Tinubu’s failure to score 25 percent of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory as stipulated by the constitution? Why was he sworn in despite his failure to meet the constitutional requirement? This is supposed to be of interest to Soyinka. Curiously, it is not. Why is he silent on this? The only fitting answer to this question is hypocrisy.

After his bouquet of studied silences, it is strange that Soyinka has found his voice. He can now tell the world categorically, as he put it, that Peter Obi came third, not even second in the February 25 presidential election. How did he know? What is his evidence? Where is his categorical conclusion coming from? Is it derived from INEC’s discredited result? Such an illicit way of arriving at a conclusion is patently fallacious.

Perhaps, Soyinka was drawn out by the scandal called the verdict of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal. He was in South Africa to sell the fraud. But did he succeed? No, he did not. Rather, he diminished his rating in the eyes of the world.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Kaaynan’s editorial stance.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here