Peter Obi (left) with Prof. Wole Soyinka
Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has said his recent interview with Channels Television was misrepresented, thereby rendering his remarks completely unrecognisable. The TV station aired the one and half-hour interview it had with Soyinka a week ago on Monday with several media houses feasting on it.
However, the playwright, on Tuesday, in a statement titled, “Media responsibility,’’ clarified his position in the interview. He maintained that his rejection of fascism wasn’t new and that on three occasions, he was able to send a message to the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, that, if he lost the election, it would be his followers who lost it for him.
He stated, “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 unrecognisable.
“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.”
Soyinka stated that throughout the interview, he 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?” he queried.
He stated that he also remained concerned by the alleged complaint by him of people not following “instructions”. He advised rather than publishing an unclear section of a person’s speech, the person should be reached for clarification, or leave that part out completely.
“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,” Soyinka added.