Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday, vowed not to vote the presidential candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in this month’s elections.
He described the two political parties as worthy of absolute rejection.
The playwright spoke in Lagos at the 2019 Citizen Forum titled, ‘Civic Choice in a Time of Judicial Penkelemes.’
Other speakers at the event were human rights lawyers, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), Femi Aborisade and President, Women Arise for Change Initiative, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin.
Soyinka said, “For the avoidance of doubt, let me make my position quite clear; I don’t want any ambiguity. I, Wole Soyinka, will not be voting for either of the two so-called contesting (political) parties. I find both of them worthy of absolute rejection for a number of reasons which I wouldn’t go into. I am not interested in comparative assessment. It is too late for that.
“My position is that it is time for a totally new direction. Obviously, I am not the only one, otherwise there will not be so many opposition parties wanting to take over the reins of government. There are things that have been going on quietly in the background to try and change the direction of this nation in a very positive way and to make the public understand that they do not have to be enslaved permanently to the old, discredited order.”
He said it had happened before in other societies when a dark horse emerged and thumped political juggernauts and others in spite of their capacity for violence and treachery.
He noted that there were hijackers and those who tried to take over genuine movement for reform.
Soyinka added, “To the extent that right now, we have third force here, third force there. Whereas the third force expression was by one of the genuine opposition movements that is usually the professional hijackers that disrupted that particular kind of approach which is one of the reasons by the way why up till now the consensus candidate has not taken place simply because this reprobate hijacked the very notion of a third force. We know the background to it.
“All that matters is that an alternative emerges eventually and we in the Citizen Forum will back that alternative. We hope that the alternative will correspond through the individual we have identified as perhaps the best candidate of the lot.”
He recalled that successive governments had tried to hamstring the judiciary in many ways, stating that there was hardly any government in Nigeria dating back to the first republic that did not attempt to muzzle the judiciary in some ways.
He said, “Methods differ. That is all. Oh! Sorry there are one or two exceptions. I would say that one former head of state was an exception. He never tampered with the judiciary. All he did was to ignore them completely, including their decisions. And of course, he locked up individuals without trials people like the new Are Ona Kakanfo for months.”
On her part, Okei-Odumakin said the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Muhammadu Buhari was a nullity.
She said, “If the rule of law is not obeyed, governors can wake up one day and do whatever they like. Finding an alternative to the rule of law is creating penkelemes.’’
Also, Falana who faulted the ex parte order used in removing Onnoghen, urged Nigerians to be mindful of the dangerous precedent where the Nigerian Bar Association would be mobilising for someone charged with serious graft and giving a dangerous impression that the person was a freedom fighter.
The lawyer further said “self-appointed defenders of the people” like Senate President Bukola Saraki set dangerous precedents in their former political posts.
In his speech, Aborisade said the CJN’s suspension was not a fight against corruption but an agenda to intimidate the judiciary in the coming elections.