Nobel Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka has denounced the menacing utterances of the vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Datti Baba-Ahmed, describing it as unbecoming.
He said the utterance was a gladiatorial challenge directed at the judiciary, and by implication, the rest of the democratic polity.
Baba-Ahmed spoke on March 22 edition of Politics Today on Channels Television calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief Justice not to swear in Bola Tinubu, whom INEC declared as the president-elect.
He insisted that declaring Tinubu a winner and issuing him a certificate of return was against the constitution.
Reacting to the utterances, the National Broadcasting Code (NBC) fined Channels Television N5 million for allegedly violating the NBC code in a programme with Baba-Ahmed.
NBC said Datti’s comments on Seun Okinbaloye-anchored “Politics Today” on Wednesday, 22 March, was capable of inciting public disorder and violated some sections of the broadcasting code.
Soyinka, in a statement titled: media responsibility, also condemned the physical violence inflicted on those designated ‘strangers’ in Lagos in the lead up to, and during governorship elections?
The statement reads in parts: “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 unrecognizable.
“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. Throughout the interview, I 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?
‘’On a minor note, I remain concerned by the alleged complaint by me 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.
‘’I hope CHANNELS plans to provide the entire interview. After months of having to endure total fabrications of partisan utterances that are strange to me, even in their very choice of words, it is most aggravating to have this, the first I have conceded in my authenticated person, casually subjected to selective editing and dissemination.
‘’Let us play by the rules of mutual obligation, or else abandon public discourse altogether.”