Nigeria does not doubt Wole Soyinka as an iconoclast….. an epitome of confusion and controversy. He is to many in the academic community a man at war with him self…. By Ono Bobi.
Ifeanyi Onyejekwe, a public affairs commentator, couldn’t be riding on a tiger’s tail when he said recently that Wole Soyinka’s exploits overseas against his fatherland are the classic case of “ a character disorder at work”.
Quoting Dr. Scoot Peck in his book The Road Less Travelled, he explained that when people with character disorder are in conflict with the world, they automatically assume that the world is at fault. According to Onyejekwe, when character – disorder individuals blame someone else – a leader or country for his problems, we assume that these problem persist. But we are living in a country, said, Onyejekwe, where the people who are the problem parade themselves within the country and overseas as part of the solution rather than procure solution, further compound the existing problem, presumably because of “ a selfish inordinate ambitions”.
Nigeria does not doubt Soyinka as an iconoclast, anm academic legend of some sort. What this country probably questions is the rationale behind several of Soyinka’s actions against his own country. Close watchers of Soyinka describe him as “the epitome of confusion and controversy”. He is to many in the academic community a man at war with himself.
Soyinka’s pro-democracy posture against the current military administration, Conscience International understands, actually began after General Sani Abacha became Head of State abd Commander – in – Chief, in November 1993. It is not very clear whether to Soyinka actually wanted Abacha to cede power to Chief M.K.O. Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12 elections. What is, however?
Known is the Soyinka’s earlier offensive against the Abacha government was not borne out of the ouster of Ernest Shonekan as Head of Interim National Government, butt a revenge mission of engineering by Soyinka’s benefactor, General Ibrahim Babangida. Using the Nobel Prize winner as conduit for the reprisal against the newly-installed Abacha regime. Very well-informed sources revealed that this was what resulted into him several Soyinka lectures of 1994 during which he aimed at the jugulars of Abacha administration, solely to discredit and distract it.
The parachute of Soyinka’s hooded actions was the restoration of the Abiola mandate. In one of such lectures at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife entitled: When is a Nation, Soyinka had questioned the Basis of Nigeria’s existence. This was in early April 1995.
Not too long after, when Soyinka realized that these lecture series were losing the required sting on government, he resorted to overseas travel where he made several inflaming, scathing remarks about government and people running the affairs. Precisely on August 6, last year’s just as Soyinka was denying calling for armed struggle in Nigeria as a means of restoring democracy in a statement credited to him by a Japanese Magazine. Goke Olupitan, a structural engineer who claims to have known Soyinka since their early school days and at the University College, Ibadan had in a reader’s letter to a national daily asked: “What is Soyinka up to Again”? Olupitan had in his sixteen- paragraphed letter remained Soyinka that action die- had but that no matter how challenging a situation could pose, subversion was not an immediate or even an answer. He remained the Nobel Prize winner that subversive actions only succeed at bringing divisions disenchantment and frustration resulting from hunger, lack of peace, et al “ The perpetrator get hated and is eventually shunned and kicked out of the system when the people realize early enough that his intentions are not populist”. Said Olupitan.
A radical academic, Soyinka’s life of subversive activities dated back to 1960s. This, he does not reject either as he had the courage to record in his book, Ibadan; The Penelemes Years (A Memoir 1946-1965). This Nigerian Count Von Rosen had in the political turmoil of the 1960s which engulfed the whole of the defunct Western Regions added to the hazards of party politics, when he held radio announcer at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (now Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria), Ibadan hostage. This memoir of Soyinka is full about his history of subversion against his people and his fatherland. This singular act of forcibly entering a government –owned station to broadcast a recorded message asking the elected premier resign Chief S.L Akintola to resign, followed with the perpetrator’s escape to the east, is not only criminal but reveals the nature of the Nobel Laureate as an agents provocateur. Indeed, like the memoir reveal, Soyinka is no plaster saint but a tempestuous spirit in tempestuous times. He is a man who indeed those not need to wonder: for this entire being “is xakin to that of a lighting conductor”.
That Soyinka could during the penkemes years also support a man (an assumed election winner) to commandeer an electoral officer to issue a xduly stamped electoral result to him at gun point is further proof of his tempestuous life style. In the Penkelemes Years, Wole Soyinka recounts the Bizzare encounter with the law and those in authority of Western Nigeria during his boyhood days and as young man, with Ibadan the commercial-nerve centre of west, occupying a place in the story. For it was at Ibadan that Soyinka was born, in 1934; wher che attended government college, a period of when he was at several time leader of various street gangs who not only burnt teacher’s property to avenge for one form of punishment or the other, but was known to have taken part in several night raids, leaving many maimed.
Various accounts in book also reveal Soyinka as precocious and brilliant but infested with a spirit o f rebellion and criticism. Despite Soyinka’s pre-occupation with fighting presumed injustice and corruption, conscience International learnt that Nobel Laureate has never exhibited salient example of probity and accountability.
A November 21, 1988 petition to the then military president, General Ibrahim Babandiga accused Wole Soyinka of several acts of financial impropriety. This petition was spearheaded by Major Rasaki Salawu (rtd), who was a member of the Governing council of the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC). When Soyinka was supposed to lodge two cheques designed for FRSC’s takeoff at National Bank and Allied Bank, he later switched the first cheque to his personal account. The account number is 36-170-574B, and Soyinka was said to be the signatory to the two accounts.
Evidence made available from an FRSC insider, indicate that Soyinka’s attitude in the payment of cheque into a person account was contrary to the banking guidelines of the corporation, which a member of the Governing Council claims normally involved three signatories.
It was also documented that the seco nd cheque of N4million also found its ways to Soyinka’s IBWA Account, a hot campaign against Salawu resulted especially when documents alleging the charges reached government circles and media houses.
Three months after the lodgment, Soyinka gained a month-working interest on N6 million which he later transferred to the FRSC account. As for the interest Soyinka reportedly kept for himself.
Another grouse which Salawu had against the Nobel Laureate was the appointment of Dr. Olu Agunloye. “Professor Wole Soyinka single- handedly created an illegal post of Director of Organization and Chief Executive, to which he appointed his personal friend, Dr. Olu Agunloye, a non-Board Member and Non government officials,” he said.
When African Concord reported on Soyinka’s “shady deals” from a petition handed to them anonymously, Soyinka blamed Salawu for the report and promptly got him arrested for peddling rumours. Salawu claimed he spent 14 days in jails, after which he was released when the police were unfounded. Salawu said after he was framed, Soyinka made a special request have him severally tortured.
Salawu further demanded that the N11 million, the then Babandiga government splashed on the FRSC should be accounted for, including the millions of Naira (of FRSC money) being kept in a secret account at Owena Bank of which Africa Concord reported that were the joint signatories. As a rejoinder to Salawu’s November 1988 petition to the Nobel Laureate of Fraudulently running the affairs of FRSC, both Soyinka and Agunloye dragged Salawu to court accusing him of circulating a false and malicious press release.
In the release, the FRSC chieftains were accused of heading, “The most corrupt government parastatals that has ever existed in history of Nigeria”.
Soyinka was purported to have used his friend, Agunloye as a conduit for the latter to hurriedly mushroom multiple companies to handle every facet of contracts being awarded by FRSC.
Soyinka’s intrigues included the attempt to plant N500,000 in Salawu’s bank account. The retired Major Said the teller which Soyinka’s massager used was in this possession as proof of the Nobel Laureate’s Misdeeds. Referring to Soyinka Agunloye, Salawu lamented, I will be glad if I am removed from the fold of rogues… it is a pity to find myself in a wrong circle”.
Perhaps the only ounce of respect Salawu is prepared to accord Soyinka is the acceptance that the Nobel Laureate is man of great reputation and a distinguished winner of the Nobel Prize in literature.
Nevertheless, in July 1989, Soyinka slapped a N10 million suit as damage against Salawu made a stout defense two months later, backing up his claims with further allegations at an Ibadan High Court.
Between July 1990 and October 1994 – when other case was finally struck off lack of evidence, Soyinka’s prosecution witnesses absconded from court, and it was finally declared that they were no longer serious in pursuing the case after persons of dubious characters appeared through the years to give evidence which did not hold waster. Soyinka was unable to prove that the allegations against both himself and Agunloye were false which gives substance to suspicion that Nobel Laureate and his partner were milking the purpose of FRSC.
By this time, Soyinka had already fallen foul of the Abacha government and he made an inglorious exit from the country. Out of a government job, Soyinka redusted his former posture as a social critic, and actually did so with a vengeance.
In exile, Soyinka pursed his verbal attacks against his country Nigeria, yet failed to cleanse himself from all allegations of financial misdeed leveled against him during his tenure at the FRSC. Indeed, his moral conduct has since been called to question.
A don, who once Soyinka’s colleague and neighbour at Ile-Ife, believes the Nobel Laureate, has n o moral justification to paint Nigeria black. “Wole Soyinka is a consummate womanizer, and a wine connoseur par excellence. He is always attracted to anything in skirt like a moth is to candlelight. He has no moral scruples” he said.
The don in question added that Soyinka, began his romantic flings very early in life, and one of these led to the teenage daughter of a former Chief Justice of Ghana, being impregnated. Soyinka reportedly fled to England immediately afterwards, abandoning both the mother and the child. While in England, he had yet another son, Olaokun from a Caucasian woman.
He quickly returns to Nigeria; where he now decided to settle down and marry Laide, presently can Ogun State University Librarian, in February 1961. The defunct Prime People magazine had in it May 25- 31, 1990 editions reported that Soyinka had Olaokun while studying in London and a second child, Morenike in Ghana. His four Children from Laide are Moremi, Peyibomi, Yetade and Ilemakin.
Soyinka’s other wises included Kimbo Ola Obu, whose son is a medical doctor; Morenike, a Ghanaian wife with a child called Amami; and Folake Doherty who has a male child.
Soyinka’s revolutionary escapades are numerous just as his antics and cover-ups in the face of wrong against the state have been legion. As a student at the University College, Ibadan in the 1960s Soyinka formed the – notorious pyrates confraternity, a large anti establishment organization which in the history of University cults has more associated with arsons in the academic communities.