Labour Party and Soyinka in tug of war over comment on 2023 election performance

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The Labour Party national leadership on Thursday slammed the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, over the statement credited to him on the party and the last general election.

Soyinka had on Wednesday accused the LP leadership of trying to force “a lie” on Nigerians on the outcome of the February 25 election.

The playwright, who spoke at an event titled: “The Lives of Wole Soyinka — A Dialogue” organised by Africa in the World in South Africa, said the LP leaders knew that the party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, lost the election but were determined to force lies down the throats of Nigerians that he was rigged out of the process by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

He lamented that the LP leadership had been trying to mobilise young people in the country to protest against the outcome of the election on the “banner of lies and deceit.”

This recent election – two things happened first of all. One party took over the labour movement, which is not my favourite movement, and then it became a regional party.

“Whereas it was a marvellous breach into the established two camps, Peter Obi achieved something remarkable there, that he broke that mould. However, he did not win the election.

“I can say categorically that Peter Obi’s party came third not even second and the leadership knew it but they want to do what we call in Yoruba ‘gbajue’, that is a force of lies,” the Nobel Laureate said.

However, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, the party expressed disappointment that the revered playwright could stoop to the “groupthink syndrome” based on primordial considerations.

The LP added that Soyinka’s statement was not expected of a man of his stature.

Ifoh said: “Prof. Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian whose accomplishments in the literary world are without doubt intimidating. However, we beg to disagree with his prognosis and personal opinion on the performance of our party during the 2023 general elections. The facts are before the courts and, out of respect for our judiciary, we will reserve our comments until the Supreme Court makes a final pronouncement.

We understand that the literary giant is human and thus susceptible to emotions and probably said what he said based on information made available to him by those who share the ‘Emilokan’ sentiment.

“It is most befuddling as well as disconcerting that a detribalised and activist like Soyinka would succumb to the ‘groupthink syndrome’ that subscribes to state capture by those belonging to the criminal fringe by any means, based on primordial considerations.

“We really appreciate him for at least giving some credit to the Labour Party and its presidential candidate for breaking the monopoly of power hitherto held by the two other parties.”


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