Our Reporter, Abuja with Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Africa’s celebrated novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has knocked Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka over his critical stance on the comment by the Labour Party’s vice-presidential candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed which he (Soyinka) described as “fascist.”
Adichie also also had a line or two in subtle reply to the avalanche of criticisms of his open letter to the United States President, Joe Biden, by the spokespersons and some supporters of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The prolific writer who featured on Arise Television programme, said she had a lot of respect for Soyinka, but strongly disagreed with his take on the Labour Party’s vice presidential candidate.
She said she could not see any reason or justification to tag Datti’s comment fascist, insisting that the word was wrongly applied by the Noble Laureate.
The LP vice presidential candidate, had during a television interview, said that swearing in the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, would be a violation of the constitution, alleging that his emergence was flawed.
He also argued that it was wrong for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to have hastily issued Tinubu with certificate of return, when the allegations of obvious manipulation of the poll that produced him had not been addressed.
Soyinka, in a reaction to Datti Ahmed’s comment, took a sweep of the LP vice presidential candidate, cautioning him to guard his utterances.
But in a counter reaction, Adichie who had last week come under the fire of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, over her condemnation of treason comment against the LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi, by the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, faulted Soyinka.
“I have a lot of respect for Prof. Soyinka, I admire him, I respect him as a thinker, as a writer, I think every one should read the The Man Died, Ake: The Memoir is beautiful, but at the same time, I disagree with him very strongly on this particular issue. And actually because I respect Prof. Soyinka so much, I went back and watched the interview, and I think ‘fascist’ is a really strong word.
“We use it now to address this sort of authoritarianism that is often populist, and right-wing like Hungary, and even the former American President, and if you look at those situations, you can see why they have been termed fascist, and I didn’t see any reason Mr. Datti Baba-Ahmed’s interview would have been termed fascist.
“I think he was making a very strongly felt point about the election. I think a charitable way of reading Prof. Soyinka’s comments is that Professor Soyinka himself, I think it’s fair to say he is not given to restraint in language, in general, so maybe that’s where that word fascist came from.
“However, I have suggestions for what we could use fascist for, we could use fascist for INEC, because as it is right now, many Nigerians feel deeply cheated by INEC, deeply disenfranchised by INEC, and that is authoritarianism which obviously is the basis of fascism at the centre of manipulating an election because what you’re doing is that you’re gagging people, you’re forcibly taking away their voice, that is fascist.”
“I disagree with Prof Soyinka’s assertion that Datti Baba’s comments were fascist, there’s nothing he said that underscored that argument. INEC, on the contrary, is guilty of fascism, a lot of Nigerians feel cheated. Buhari and Mahmood Yakubu wasted an opportunity for heroism.”
Yet Chimamanda Adichie’s had a word or two in subtle dismissal of the spokespersons of the APC presidential campaign council who had questioned her locus on speaking up on Nigeria’s political issues. She was also accused by Tinubu’s men of being a “sour loser” because “her tribesman” who she supported lost the election.
“It was funny reading the juvenile fulminations of non-juvenile people,” Adichie had replied.
“I did not support Peter Obi because he’s Igbo as I am. My support for Peter Obi is rooted in his antecedents and my faith in his ability. The idea of ethnicity politicised by a political party is a way of deflecting, and quite unfortunate.”