Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has asked Nigerians to be wary of a former president who pretends to be the conscience of the nation.
Soyinka said this in Abuja on Wednesday at a symposium on fake news organised by BBC News.
The playwright, who was a panelist at the event tagged, ‘Nigeria 2019: Countering Fake News’, urged the traditional media not to spread unfounded allegations as the electronic media sometimes do.
The Nobel Laureate said if the former leader had been referring to a certain person for eight years as ‘a devil’ and is now telling Nigerians to vote for the devil, then there is a reason for Nigerians to express some doubt.
Soyinka said, “We have got to develop a very healthy skepticism. If someone in a position of power for eight years has lectured a nation for eight years and after that, continued year after year to continue to direct the minds of a whole nation in one direction, only saying, ‘This is Lucifer from hell’ for eight years in office and several more years out of office saying, ‘This is Lucifer’ and then one day he changed and says: ‘Behold your redeemer;’ which of the two is fake news?”
He did not mention the former president he was referring to, nor the alleged Lucifer.
The outburst, without naming names, is uncharastaristic of Prof Soyinka, renowned for his pro-democracy and strong activism, especially in Nigerian affairs.
The first African Nobel laureate in literature has arguably stood in as the conscience of the nation being a most recognisable global figure during one of Nigeria’s darkest hours under the Sani Abacha regime.
Thenewsmatrics reports that Soyinka remains bitterly opposed to the continued relevance of former Prsident Olusegun Obasanjo in the political space despite being seen as squandering a unique opportunity to reconfigure Nigeria’s future, given his strong presidency, on the alter of a retrogressive third term agenda.
Many see the 2019 general elections as another defining moment for Nigeria with President Muhammadu Buhari’ssupporters and antagonists split nationwide on the back of failed promises.
The only viable alternative, Atiku Ababukar, a formidable veteran politician and Obasanjo’s vice president For eight years, also seems unable to muster enough trust and resources to guarantee a clear victory.