Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, yesterday stated that neither President Muhammadu Buhari nor former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, would get his vote.
Soyinka, who noted that the country was in an urgent need of a new direction, said little wonder there were so many opposition parties to take over governance.He spoke yesterday at the Freedom Park, Hospital Road, Lagos during an interactive session with the theme “Civic Choice In A Time Of Judicial ‘Penkelemes.’ ”
Soyinka disclosed that meetings were being held simultaneously in Lagos and Abuja to evolve a political platform that would produce a consensus candidate that would define his choice. He said there was no need for Nigerians to be enslaved permanently with the old discredited order of politicians.
I will not be voting for the two so-called contestants
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me make my position quite clear because I don’t want any ambiguity; I, Wole Soyinka, will not be voting for either of the two so-called contestants. I find both of them worthy of absolute rejection. For a number of reasons, I will not go into that and I am not interested in comparative assessment, it is too late for that.
“My position is simply 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.“As I am speaking, there is a coalition having its meeting in Lagos, in which they hope to produce a consensus candidate. There is another group meeting in Abuja and at the end, they will send us their consensus candidate,” the Nobel laureate said.
According to him, “There are things going on in the background and there is need to change the direction of this nation in a positive way, and to make the public understand that they do not have to be enslaved permanently with the old discredited order.“I don’t believe in what is called negative vote, which means, for me, throwing your vote in a waste basket. I believe instead in a creative vote, not a protest vote, not a negative vote, but a creative vote. And a creative vote means that the will to at least sow a seed through your vote that will germinate eventually. The pace of germination is beyond the control of everyone, but it is never too early to make a beginning.”
On last week’s controversial suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, by President Buhari and the appointment of an acting CJN, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, Soyinka said every Nigerian government had tried to subjugate the judiciary in one form or the other.
“The judiciary is the best hope for the common citizens. No law, no democracy. No democracy, no society. Successive governments try and hamstring any kind of controlling force within government such as the judiciary. They do it in all sorts of ways. There is hardly any government here, even all the way back to the First Republic, that didn’t attempt to muzzle, destroy or degrade the judiciary in some ways. 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 Dele Faseun and the new Are Ona Kakanfo for months.“That is one way of respecting the judiciary. You don’t give them much work so you don’t bring people to trial. You just lock them away. I make that exception,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, human rights activist, Joe Odumakin, described Buhari’s removal of the CJN as a nullity.“If the rule of law is not obeyed, governors can wake up one day and do whatever they like. This is not a Banana Republic. Finding an alternative to the rule of law is creating penkelemes,” she said.
Elsewhere and in a different context, former President Olusegun Obasanjo who spoke on the situation in the country yesterday noted that despite the fact that the President Buhari’s leadership was under- performing and things might be gloomy in the nation, Nigerians should not despair but remain optimistic and vigilant.