Professor Wole Soyinka, a Nobel laureate, has challenged Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, the vice-presidential candidate for the Labour Party, LP, to a one-on-one discussion on Channels Television over the country’s democracy.
The Nobel laureate, in a statement titled “Fascism on Course,” released on Friday, is challenging the LP’s vice-presidential candidate to a debate as regards his claims of Nigeria’s democracy ending if the President-elect, Asiwasju Bola Tinubu, is sworn in May 29.
Soyinka stated, “May I seize this opportunity, by the way, to condemn the sanctions imposed on CHANNELS Television which anchored the performance of the LP candidate.
“As stated, I watched the programme keenly – saw the valiant efforts of the interviewer to ensure fair hearing.
“I fail to understand just where the station could be faulted, except from a disposition for injustice. To sustain that penalty is to give joy to others who turn Internet into a soakaway for their rancid emissions, yet feel that others should be silenced.
“If CHANNELS feels up to it, I offer myself willing to engage Mr. Datti – or any nominee of his – on its platform on this very bone of contention – one-on-one – without the malodorous intervention of media trolls, and with the same interviewer as mediator.
“That should be taken as a serious offer,” Soyinka said.
Recall that Datti Baba-Ahmed had called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief Justice of Nigeria not to swear in Tinubu, who was declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the winner of the March 18th presidential election.
The Labour Party vice-presidential candidate, who spoke as a guest on Channels TV’s Politics Today, insisted that declaring Tinubu a winner and issuing him a certificate of return was against the constitution.
According to him, “whoever swears in Mr Tinubu” has “ended Democracy” in Nigeria.
Since then, the interview has drawn condemnation from political figures and resulted in a N5 million fine for the TV station.
Soyinka responded to Baba-threats Ahmed’s by describing them as a “sort of do-or-die mentality and provocation” that is incompatible with democratic principles.
He deemed Baba-remark Ahmed’s objectionable and claimed that he attempted to “dictate to the highest arbitrator of the nation.”
Soyinka’s comments on Baba-Ahmed, however, attracted backlashes from the supporters of the Labour Party as they dragged Soyinka on social media.
In contrast, Soyinka noted that Nigerian Democracy 2023 has seen innovations largely in the retrogressive vein, as violence, ethnic profiling, and intimidation continue to be easily overlooked even as they are directed against dissenting voices. Soyinka was responding to the criticisms and the behavior of Datti Baba-Ahmed.
Soyinka criticized the Channels TV penalty and commended the anchor’s professionalism, emphasizing that she made repeated attempts to restrain Baba-Ahmed while he was speaking on camera.