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Soyinka: Peter Obi Did Not Win Presidential Election, Labour Party Resorting To ‘Gbajue’

“…and we find this vice-presidential candidate on television boasting, insisting, threatening and trying to intimidate both the judiciary and the rest.”

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka on Wednesday in South Africa said the leadership of the Labour Party knows that its presidential candidate in Nigeria’s February 25 election, Peter Obi, did not win the election. 

Soyinka accused the leadership of the opposition party of trying to force “a lie” on Nigerians that Obi won the election.

The Nobel laureate spoke at an event titled “The Lives of Wole Soyinka — A Dialogue” organised by Africa in the World, in the Cape Winelands city of Stellenbosch.

  “I can say categorically that Peter Obi’s party came third not even second and the leadership knew it but they want to do what we call in Yoruba ‘gbajue’, that is force of lies.”

Soyinka said the truth matters to him, noting that many people always look for shortcuts.

He admitted that Obi achieved “something remarkable” by breaking the monopoly of power established by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but also accused the Labour Party of taking over the organised labour movement in the build-up to the 2023 election.

“This recent election – two things happened first of all. One party took over the labour movement, which is not my favourite movement, and then it became a regional party,” he said.

“Whereas it was a marvellous breach into the established two camps. Peter Obi achieved something remarkable there, that he broke that mould. However, he did not win the election.”

Soyinka also claimed that the Labour Party leadership attempted to mobilise young people to protest against the outcome of the election on the “banner of lies and deceit”.

“They were going to send some of the hardliners, proud young people into the street to demonstrate,” he said.

“I’m also ready to be among such demonstrators but only on the banner of truth not on lies, and deceit.

“This party wanted the same thing (referring to 2011 post-election violence) to happen on the basis of a lie and we find this vice-presidential candidate on television boasting, insisting, threatening and trying to intimidate both the judiciary and the rest.

“What kind of government will result from that kind of conduct? In addition, they did not know this but they were being used.

“Before the election, there were certain clandestine forces, including some ex-generals, who were already calling for an interim government before the elections began.”

In an apparent reference to Afe Babalola, he said: “Some of them were known figures, including a proprietor of a university calling for an interim government before the election took place.”

Soyinka’s comments are bound to elicit another round of reactions from Obi’s vociferous supporters known as the ‘Obidients’.

In March, Soyinka and the Labour Party (and the Obidients by extension) were at loggerheads over comments made by the party’s vice-presidential candidate at the election, Datti Baba-Ahmed, on the outcome of the presidential election.

 Baba-Ahmed had in a  TV interview, said the country has no president-elect despite the declaration of Bola Tinubu, flagbearer of the APC, as the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Baba-Ahmed said Tinubu should not be sworn in as president because he “did not meet requirements of the law”.

Reacting to the comment, Soyinka said Datti’s words contained “fascistic language” and that he has “never heard anyone threaten the judiciary on television the way Datti did”.

Soyinka further described the Obidient movement as “fascist”. 

Referring to Obi’s supporters, said the “seeds of incipient fascism in the political arena have evidently matured.”

He described the refusal of the Obidients to entertain corrective criticism as their “badge of honour” and “certificate of commitment”.

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