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Obasanjo, an overgrown child of circumstance – Soyinka



The Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has described former President Olusegun Obasanjo as an overgrown child of circumstance.

Soyinka sharply criticised Obasanjo in his (Nobel laureate’s) new book, titled InterInterventions: Between Defective Memory and the Public Lie – A Personal Odyssey in the Republic of Liars, presented in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Saturday.


Although Soyinka conceded that he used to be friendly with Obasanjo and admitted in the book that some stakeholders were making efforts to reconcile them, he said he owed it a responsibility to fundamentally respond to lies that Obasanjo allegedly told against him in his latest biography, titled, My Watch, described in InterInterventions as Three-Carat Watch.

Soyinka, who in the book also critically takes on the likes of former Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; and veteran critic, Prof. Chinweizu, wrote, quoting a Yoruba proverb, “The child that swears his mother will not sleep must also prepare for a prolonged, sleepless infancy. So, let it be with Okikiola, the overgrown child of circumstance.

”I brainstormed with him over meals both when he was military Head of State – in Dodan Barracks and in his home, Ota – for some time after he left office and early in Aso Rock at his ‘second coming.’ Today, it is a different situation. If he offered to host me, I would wait until he had first swallowed a morsel from the same dish.

“I had fully attuned myself to the fact that our Owu retiree soldier and prolific author is an infliction that those of us who share the same era and nation space must learn to endure. However, it does appear to me that there is no end to this individual’s capacity for infantile mischief, and for needless, mind-boggling provocations, such as his recent ‘literary’ intrusion on my peace.

He added that part of the intervention the elders made was a ‘cordial’ conversation he had with Obasanjo recently.

According to the Nobel laureate, he, during the conversation, commended Obasanjo for the creative way he had developed the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, which Soyinka, however, described as a Presidential Laundromat and a product of executive extortion.

He added that he discussed the possibility of a collaboration with the facility.

But Soyinka, who chronicled the various places his path had met with that of Obasanjo since childhood, insisted that the lies in which the former President allegedly thrived were so unthinkable that he and some other people had started working on another book solely focusing on Obasanjo.

He questioned the godliness to which Obasanjo professed and claimed that the former President indulged in identity theft.

“Our author invokes God tirelessly, without provocation, without necessity and without justification, perhaps preemptively, but does he really believe in such an entity? Does our home-bred Double-O-Seven believe in anything outside his own Omnipotence? Could he possibly have mistaken the Christian exhortation – ‘Watch and Pray’ – for his own private inclination to ‘Watch and Prey? This is a seasoned predator on others’ achievements. He preys on their names, their characters, their motivations, their true lives; preys on gossip and preys on contributions to collective undertakings – even preys on their identities, substituting his own where possible.”

In the book, Soyinka also commented on the controversy over the ownership and leadership of the board of the Centre for Culture and International Understanding, over which he and Oyinlola recently exchanged words.

He and a former Corpa Marshal and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Dr. Olu Agunloye, also challenged Major Rasaki Salawu (retd.), who recently claimed that it was he – and not Soyinka – that formed the commission.

At the public presentation of the book, Soyinka said that he was poised to draw blood with it.

The inauguration of the Soyinka Foundation, held at the MKO Abiola Cultural Centre, Kuto, attracted dignitaries that included the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; his Edo State counterpart, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, who came in company with his wife, Lara; former governors of Ekiti, Rivers and Cross River states, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and Mr. Donald Duke

While the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, also graced the occasion, at the the programme that featured readings and performances were scholars/writers such Profs JP Clark, Biodun Jeyifo and Remi Raji; Odia Ofeimun and Kunle Ajibade.

Amosun commended Soyinka and the organisers of the event for the initiative and promised to support it.

Efforts to get Obasanjo’s reaction failed as one of his aides said the former President had travelled to Ivory Coast to monitor elections.

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