I warned Peter Obi that ‘Obidients’ would be his undoing in the election – Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has criticized the media for their responsibility in distorting his recent interview with Channels Television.

Speaking in a statement titled “Media Responsibility,” he emphasized the importance of accurately transmitting spoken words to the public, especially in times of civic uncertainty. Soyinka expressed concern about the media’s tendency to take remarks out of context, splice them into a new one, and provide sensational headlines that distort the central intent of the speaker’s remarks.

In the same statement, Soyinka denounced the menacing utterances of a vice-presidential aspirant, calling them unbecoming and a gladiatorial challenge directed at the judiciary and, by implication, the rest of the democratic polity.

He also expressed his rejection of fascism and revealed that he warned Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, on three occasions about the excesses of his supporters, otherwise known as “Obidients.” Soyinka stressed that if Obi lost the election, it would be his followers who lost it for him.

Soyinka highlighted the importance of clarifying unclear sections in recordings and advised the media to leave them out entirely to avoid misrepresentation. He also stated that he was not a member of the Labour Party and could not have given instructions. Soyinka expressed his pain at having contributed to the making of the moment, going back several years, only to have the followers of such a movement send it slithering backwards and down the fascistic slope.

In Soyinka’s words, “What I have read – at least, thus far – this morning, extracted from a one-and-a-half long interview, conducted a week ago with Channels Television, brings once more to the fore, the critical responsibility of the media in transmitting the spoken, even recorded – word to the public.

“This is especially crucial in a time of civic uncertainty. When remarks are taken out of context, spliced into a new one, provided a sensational headline, distortions become stamped on public receptivity, and the central intent of one’s remarks becomes completely unrecognisable.

“I denounced the menacing utterances of a vice-presidential aspirant as unbecoming. It was a gladiatorial challenge directed at the judiciary and, by implication, the rest of the democratic polity.

“But what on earth has happened to my even more urgent condemnation of the physical violence inflicted on those designated “strangers” in Lagos in the lead up to, and during governorship elections?

“This prejudicial selectivity is a betrayal of trust, and I find it contemptuous of public deserving. My critique of incipient fascism in the movement remains grounded in indisputable evidence.”

Soyinka stated that throughout the interview, he continued to stress that the final word had yet to be pronounced on the elections – “that omission renders the full message tendentious!”

“My rejection of fascism is nothing new. On three occasions, I was able to send a message to Peter Obi that if he lost the election, it would be his followers who lost it for him. It was depressing to watch his lieutenant, a crucially positioned voice of a movement that has ‘broken the mould’, threaten the totality of social existence.

“Whatever our ideological leaning, is Donald Trump the ideal template for a burgeoning democracy in the nation?”

He stated that he also remained concerned by the alleged complaint by him of people not following “instructions.”

“If words are garbled in recording, the speaker can be reached for clarification – else, simply leave out the unclear section completely to avoid misrepresentation. After all, piecemeal transmission is legitimate proceeding, as long as a part is not presented as the whole.

“I am not a member of the Labour Party, so how can giving ‘instructions’ become my role? Like a number of others, I have admittedly contributed to the making of this moment – going back several years – and it is painful to have the followers of such a movement, send it slithering backwards and down the fascistic slope, ” Soyinka said.

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