Wole Soyinka blasts Obasanjo for supporting Atiku

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 panellist at the event tagged, ‘Nigeria 2019: Countering Fake News,’ urged the traditional media not to act like the electronic media by spreading unfounded allegations.

Reflecting on the effect of fake news ahead of next month’s elections, Soyinka asked Nigerians to be wary of a former President who pretends to be the conscience of the nation.

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 was reason for Nigerians to express some doubt.

Soyinka said, “We have got to develop very healthy scepticism. 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 his left hand and says behold your redeemer, which of the two is fake news?”

Although he did not mention the former President he was referring to, the only President who has ruled Nigeria for only eight years is Olusegun Obasanjo, while the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2019 polls, Atiku Abubakar, could be the ‘devil’ that Soyinka was referring to.

Obasanjo until recently had described Atiku as very corrupt even going to the extent of dedicating some parts of his published works to lambast the ex-VP.

He said God would not forgive him if he supported Atiku’s presidential bid.

But he changed his mind recently, saying he had forgiven Atiku, urging Nigerians to vote for the ex-Vice-President.

Soyinka said those spreading fake news had mental issues and thus psychologists and psychiatrists must be included in the fight against the menace.

He disclosed that he had seen his obituary countless times on social media and he had become tired of receiving phone calls from well-wishers.

He said sometimes ridiculous statements were attributed to him which many could find disgusting.

Soyinka added, “During the last Presidency, there was a statement attributed to me that I said that it serves President Jonathan right for marrying an illiterate woman. I never made any comment whatsoever about her and suddenly here it is staring me in the face.

“An account (on Facebook) has even been created in my name and from time to time a card is sent to me and it reads, ‘Wole Soyinka says anyone who votes for this person must be stupid, must be mentally retarded, his mother must be a goat and his father must be a gorilla.’

“And this comes on all the time and I don’t want to understate the numerous motivations going into this. Although basically, I think the commonality is that those who create fake news are sick in the head and they are also cowards because they lack the conviction for their own beliefs and so they try to attribute to other people what they are thinking.”

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