Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, says he did not discuss reconciliation with the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, during their meeting on Sunday.
Obi had released pictures he took during his visit to Soyinka, giving the impression that the visit was to get a soft landing for his followers who insulted the literary giant last month.
Referred to as Obidients, the politician’s supporters had used all manner of words on the globally renowned author over an interview he granted on the elections.
In the interview, Soyinka said he had warned Obi that if he lost the presidential election, it would be due to his supporters.
Amid the barrage of criticisms and caustic remarks, Soyinka had fired back at Obidients and challenged Datti Baba-Ahmed, Obi’s running mate, to which a spokesman of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign responded by dismissing Soyinka as an old man.
But on Sunday, Obi said he made attempts to reconcile the professor with his followers whom he referred to as Obidient family.
“Today (Sunday) I visited one of Nigeria’s most revered figures and an international literary icon, Prof Wole Soyinka. Prof Soyinka has been my father whom I hold in very esteem for what he has achieved and stands for in the struggle for a better Nigeria. His reputation as a fighter for justice and equity in our society has been legendary and we will never ignore them.
“I reminded the Nobel laureate of the huge price he paid just before the outbreak of civil war, fighting for the cause of the Igbos. I cherish this Sunday visit which was intended to erase the needless misconceptions about the relationship between the great icon and the obidient family,” Obi had said.
However, in a statement on Monday, Soyinka said reconciliation was never discussed during his meeting with Obi.
He said: “Before it gains traction and embarks on a life of its own, I wish to state clearly that the word ‘Reconciliation’, inserted into some reports of Peter Obi’s visit to me yesterday, Sunday, May 7. is a most inappropriate, and diversionary invocation.
“Let me clarify: I know the entity known as Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party. I can relate to him. I know and can relate to the Labour Party on whose platform he contested elections. There are simply no issues to reconcile between those two entities and myself.
“However, I do not know, and am unable to relate to something known as the ‘Obidient’ or ‘Obidient Family’. Thus, albeit in a different vein, any notion of Reconciliation, or even relations – positive, negative or indifferent – with such a spectral emanation is simply grasping at empty air.
“During that meeting, attended by two other individuals only, the word ‘Reconciliation’ was never bruited, neither in itself nor in any other form. It simply did not arise. By contrast, there were expressions of ‘burden of leadership’ ‘responsibility’ ‘apology’, ‘pleading’, ‘formal dissociation from the untenable’, all the way to the ‘tragic ascendancy of ethnic cleavage’, especially under such ironic, untenable circumstances. Discussions were frank, and creative. The notion of Reconciliation was clearly N/A – None Applicable. It was never raised.
“The following should be understood, but never underestimated. What remains ineradicable from that weekend of orgiastic rave in the social media was the opening up of the dark, putrid recesses in the national psyche that we like to pretend do not exist.
“It invited – into minds seeking a grasp on reality – gruesome variations on images from Dante’s Purgatorio. A fathomless pit was exposed, at the bottom of which one glimpsed a throng of the damned, writhing in competitive lust for the largest of the gangrenous ladles in a diabolical broth.
“To peek over the edge of that pit for a prolonged spell was to turn giddy, with a risk of falling into the tureen of inhuman pus. To attempt to navigate one’s way, however gingerly, along a mat spread across the infernal abyss, is an invitation to moral suicide.
“For the serious minded, I call attention to essays I have offered on the theme of Reconciliation based on Truth, and the ethical imperative of Restitution. There will be further elaborations forthcoming in DEMOCRACY PRIMER III – Bookcraft’s INTERVENTION series, now brought forward for publication on June 12, the watershed extorted from the current regime as the nation’s Democracy Day.
“If, from here on, I now comply with entreaties from several valued, genuinely concerned directions, and ignore new provocations, however vile, it is only because I also approve of Mohammed Ali’s strategy of Rope-a-Dope, where blind menace is left flailing hopelessly at the disdainful manifest of Truth.”