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Chimamanda Adichie Replies Wole Soyinka Over Position On Labour Party’s Datti-Ahmed




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Renowned novelist Chimamanda Adichie has disagreed with Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka that the vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the February 25 poll Datti Baba-Ahmed made fascist remarks.

The Nigerian-born novelist said on Arise TV on Tuesday that the confusion over the recent election is due to the Independent National Electoral Commission-s ‘delibrate’ non-transmission of results in real-time as stated in its guidelines.

“Because I respect Soyinka a lot, I went back and watched the interview again. I think fascism is a really strong word, which often made me think of (Benito) Mussolini of Italy, we use it now. I do not see any reason Datti Baba-Ahmed’s interview should be termed fascist,” she said in an interview on Arise TV on Tuesday night

Recall, Soyinka had slammed the vice presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Datti Baba-Ahmed, over his outburst in a recent television interview.

Datti, in an interview with Channels TV, had said the country has no president-elect and called on the judiciary and President Muhammadu Buhari against swearing Bola Tinubu as the President on May 29.

Baba-Ahmed also claimed that Tinubu would be leading an unconstitutional government if sworn into office because the APC candidate has not met the requirements of the law.

Soyinka went on to say, ”His comments were unbecoming and a threat to the judiciary. It is a fascist language that alienates the people. It is unacceptable, and I refuse to be a part of it.”

However, while responding to questions, Adichie said she has a lot of respect for Prof Soyinka.

She said, “I admire him, I respect him as a thinker and a writer. I think everyone should read ‘The Man Died and Ake’ his memior is beautiful. But at the same time, I disagree very strongly with him about this particular issue.

“And actually because I respect Prof Soyinka, I went back to watch his interview. I had watched it when it aired because I thought I was missing something. And I think fascist is a really strong word. Fascist often makes me think of Muselini’s Italy.

“But I think we use it now to address a kind of authoritarianism and often populist, right-wing and like in Hungary and even the former American President.

“When you look at those situations, you can see why they have been termed fascist. And I did not see any reason that Mr Dati Baba Ahmed’s interview would have been termed fascist.

“I think he was making a very strongly felt point about the election but he was saying again which I thought seemed fairly reasonable is that if our democracy is rooted in our constitution, and you then swear in a person who is elected unconstitutionally, then you are in fact ending democracy. I think it’s quite a reasonable position.”

The novelist said a charitable way of reading Prof Soyinka’s comment is that “Prof Soyinka himself, I think is fair to say that he is not given to restraint in language in general and so, maybe that is where the word fascist came from.”

She opined that the real fascist is the INEC, its Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu and those who sponsored violence during the elections.

She said, ” 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 their authoritarianism which obviously is the basis of fascism at the centre of manipulating an election.

“Because what you are doing is you are gagging people. You are forcibly taking away their voice. That is fascism. Fascism is all of the violence that happened during the election. Fascist is the way that some people remain silent about that violence. Fascist is a government that has come out to address the very tangible and palpable discontent in this country.

“I think that Prof Yakubu had an opportunity for heroism and I think he wasted it spectacularly. Because he could have very easily become the hero of not just Nigeria but Africa. I also think that President Buhari missed an opportunity for heroism. Maybe his last chance at heriosm … I wish that he had taken a page from former president Yar Adua who was a very good and moral man.”

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