June 24, 2024

Soyinka Criticizes Peter Obi’s Leadership Qualifications



Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka has expressed strong reservations about the suitability of Peter Obi, the 2023 Labour Party presidential candidate, to lead Nigeria.


Soyinka’s criticisms center on Obi’s handling of his supporters, known as ‘Obidients,’ during the 2023 general elections.


Soyinka highlighted the aggressive behavior of Obi’s supporters towards those with differing opinions as a significant concern. He argued that Obi’s inability to restrain these supporters is indicative of his unfitness to govern a diverse country like Nigeria. According to Soyinka, “Obi’s failure to rein in his supporters attacking others with opposing views online was a pointer that he is unfit to lead a country like Nigeria.”


The literary icon also accused Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, of indirectly encouraging the hostile actions of his followers. In an interview with Noble Nigeria, Soyinka shared his apprehensions about Obi’s potential future candidacy, stating, “I hope for the sake of the nation that he doesn’t express interest in the next election because for me, if there was any proof that he was unfit to lead that country, it’s in the conduct which he encouraged among his followers.”


Soyinka provided an example to support his claim, recounting a meeting with Obi where the latter allegedly reassured him about the behavior of the ‘Obidients’. Soyinka recalled, “I remember the moment when he took out his mobile device after he made a statement like ‘Oh don’t worry. You don’t have anything to worry about these people.’ He was talking about ‘Obidients’. I remember he took out his phone, and he typed a message there.”


Despite the seemingly conciliatory tone of their conversation, Soyinka was taken aback by Obi’s subsequent public statements, which he felt misrepresented their meeting. “I saw and I read his statement about that meeting afterwards. The statement was a contrast to what actually happened,” Soyinka noted, adding that he made a point to publicly correct the record.


Soyinka’s critique extends to what he perceives as a lack of honesty from Obi, citing the discrepancy between their private discussions and Obi’s public recounting of the meeting. This, he argues, further undermines Obi’s credibility as a leader. “When I meet somebody who is incapable, even at a meeting which is supposed to be reconciliatory, of being completely honest, I look at that person and smile to myself,” Soyinka remarked.


Concluding his criticism, Soyinka reiterated his stance on Obi’s presidential ambitions, hoping that the Labour Party candidate does not pursue another run in 2027. He emphasized the importance of integrity and effective leadership in navigating Nigeria’s complex societal landscape, implying that Obi falls short of these crucial qualities.

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