NOBEL Laureate, Wole Soyinka, a professor, has tackled a former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Bola Akinterinwa, also a professor, for attributing statements he never made to him.
In a statement released on Monday, January 23, Soyinka described as ‘unfortunate’ how Akinterinwa fell “for the operations of Nigeria’s fake attribution industry”, which he said had attained hideous social dimensions.
Soyinka issued the release as a rebuttal to Akinterinwa’s attribution to him in his piece titled “From Pope Benedict XVI to Jacinda Ardern: The Challenge of Poor Health versus National Leadership,” published in This Day newspaper on Sunday, January 22, 2023.
In the publication, Akinterinwa wrote extensively about how African and other leaders perpetuate themselves in office, regardless of their incompetence due to failing health or lack of requisite leadership prowess.
He recalled how 22 African leaders had died in office when some could have escaped deaths if they had quit power when ill.
Besides, he decried the concealment of leaders’ health status and declared that the public have the right to know the fitness of those who lead them.
He compared Pope Benedict XVI and Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister, who announced on January 19 she would be stepping down in February because of growing crises in her country, with leaders who would rather choose to die feasting on state resources and keep more for their offsprings and kinsmen.
Akinterinwa, the President/Director-General of the Bolytag Centre for International Diplomacy and Strategic Studies (BOCIDASS), eulogised the late Pope Benedict and Ardern and urged Nigerians to choose wisely in the coming elections to enable the nation to boast of good leaders.
He quoted some respected writers, including Soyinka, to buttress his arguments on politicking and leadership in Nigeria and Africa.
The diplomacy expert wrote about the fear of ‘Fulanization’ and ‘Islamization’ agenda in Nigeria, positing that politics and terrorism were part of the tools for achieving them.
He also alluded to what the former Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, purportedly said about how Nigeria would never have lasting peace until the country split into Muslim North and Christian South.
According to him, leaders should be physically and mentally fit to unite the people, curb growing threats and guarantee economic prosperity.
Similarly, Akinterinwa wrote about how “intellectual speculators” assume the North seeks to cling to power through the instrumentality of politicking.
Quoting Soyinka, Akinterinwa wrote: “Nothing could be more interesting than what Professor Wole Soyinka was quoted as saying: ‘Northern Nigeria will continue to control the government no matter who becomes the President. This is because they created (a) fraudulent constitution in Nigeria, fraudulent population in the Northwest and more states in the North.
“More significantly, the African Nobel Laureate from Ogun State also noted that ‘Northern Nigeria was in charge of the government when Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan were President. Even if you make Igbo President, Northern Nigeria will still control the government. The best solution to Nigeria’s problem is for us to negotiate our existence.”
Reacting, Soyinka said the attribution belonged to the “sharp practices of internet trolls with their own agenda, who, however, lack the balls to answer their fathers’ names. There is an appropriate name for them, but we shall avoid using it here…I never made such a statement. We have warned again and again.”
According to him, the increasingly bastardised social media will eventually set one country after the other on fire, leading eventually to a global conflagration.
He explained that the principal instigators would be “those malformed subhumans who lack the courage of their conviction and must resort to identity theft of mounting impudence.”
Soyinka reasoned that even the most elementary, but rational, mind-sustaining discourse had become a minefield of distortions, wholesale fabrications, half-truths, tendentious extrapolations that impose on serious thinkers and debaters superhuman navigation skills.
He commended those who persist and attempt to retrieve the social media from the “mentally retarded minority”.
Soyinka then added: “In this connection, one brief comment: Professor Akinterinwa missed out on one leadership qualification that the nation desperately needs: a mass psychiatrist or an exorcist. Preferably both rolled in one.”