Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka has described the word “reconciliation”, used in media reports of Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi’s visit to his house in Abeokuta Ogun State at the weekend as non-applicable.
According to him, the word was never raised, adding that its insertion in the reports was “most inappropriate” and a “diversionary invocation.”
Soyinka noted that there was no issue to reconcile between him and Obi, but refuted any acknowledgement of or relationship with the “Obidient” or “Obidient Family” as Obi’s supporters are known.
The Obidients verbally attacked the Nobel laureate for describing the LP flag bearer’s running mate Datti Baba-Ahmed’s comment on Channels Television, TV, as fascist.
Obi, in a post on his official Twitter handle on Sunday, poured encomiums on Soyinka.
He described the visit as enriching, adding that he had a useful discussion with the literary giant.
He said: “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 had a very useful and enriching discussion about his aspirations for a better and greater Nigeria, and he shared a lot with me about his dream for a greater, and more inclusive Nigeria.
“I reminded the Nobel laureate of the huge price he paid just before the outbreak of the civil war, fighting for the cause of the Igbo.
“I cherish this Sunday visit which was intended to erase the needless misconceptions about the relationship between the great icon and the Obidient family.”
Soyinka reacted to media reports which followed the visit in a statement titled “A visitation, and the allure of ‘reconciliation’”.
He said he knew Obi and could relate to the party, adding that there were no issues to reconcile between them.
“However, I do not know, and am unable to relate to something known as the ‘Obidient’ or ‘Obidient Family,’ he noted.
The statement further reads: “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 – Non Applicable. It was never raised.
“The following should be understood but never underestimated. What remains ineradicable from that weekend of orgiastic rave in 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.”