It is false to say that I supported the election of Buhari – Wole Soyinka


According to Mr Soyinka, what he said at the time was “do not vote for Jonathan.”

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka on Thursday admitted he preached against the re-election of former President Goodluck Jonathan. He, however, added that he urged the youth to mobilise for their candidate of choice.

The professor of Comparative Literature spoke at a press conference in Lagos on Thursday.

Mr Soyinka has been at the receiving end of criticisms from Nigerians amidst rising hardship and worsening insecurity. A lot of Nigerians blame the literary icon for the role he played in the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

On Thursday, he sought to push back the criticisms, insisting that he never endorsed President Buhari’s candidacy in 2015.

“It is false to say that I supported the election of Buhari,” he said, adding that what he said at the time was “do not vote for Jonathan.”

He admitted that although he didn’t support Mr Jonathan’s second term bid, he now believes the former president “redeemed himself in such a magnificent way.”

“Buhari never won the election, Jonathan lost it,” he continued.

“There are those who see a problem and say let’s tackle the problem now and there are others who see a problem and say who is responsible for that problem? In other words, they are looking for someone to blame,” he said.

“Jonathan had a chance to win that election, but he blew it.”

He maintained that what he said in 2015 was that if Nigerians elect Mr Buhari, they should support him as a born-again democrat and be allowed to carry out his duties.

He, however, said Mr Buhari failed Nigeria at its critical moments.

“He failed when he went to Benue, after the killings by herdsmen, and told the people to live with their neighbours.

“Having been on the other side of power, he should have had a rethink, but alas, Buhari failed.”

‘Agents of deception’

On Thursday afternoon, Mr Soyinka was a trending topic on Nigerian Twitter, as some social media users shared newspaper headlines in 2015 showing him “endorsing Buhari.”

The Nobel laureate was a staunch critic of the Jonathan administration, sometimes extending his vitriol to the ex-president’s wife and former first lady, Patience Jonathan.

In the run-up to the 2015 general election, he, however, distanced himself from media reports claiming he endorsed a presidential or governorship candidate.

“All such attributions are fabrications by faceless, often self-appointed agents of deception, and should be publicly pilloried,” Mr Soyinka had said in a statement in January 2015.

“Whenever I choose to declare support for a candidate – as is my electoral right – I shall ensure that I deploy a medium that places my authorship beyond dispute. Internet habitues, Social networks, etc are urged to be less gullible, and avoid becoming cheap conduits for the deception industry.”

Robbery attacks

Mr Soyinka said robbers have attacked his home four times, with the most dramatic happening at his Ogun and Lagos residences before the covid-19 pandemic.

He said he reported it to the security operatives, and the Ogun State police commissioner and a former governor, Ibikunle Amosun, intervened, but nothing happened beyond the visits.

He said the thieves stole electronic devices in his residence and wondered what information they believed his laptops and mobile devices contained.