Professor Wole Soyinka
The Neo Africana Centre has asked the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, to join the controversy trailing President Bola Tinubu’s claim of having attended and obtained a certificate from Chicago State University (CSU) in the United States of America.
The public policy think tank said it is uncharacteristic for Soyinka to look and act disinterestedly over an issue in which he should, ordinarily, be interested in. This is much more so considering the fact that Soyinka has, through his recent interventions, left nobody in doubt that he is an interested party in the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.
It wondered why a Wole Soyinka who has a reputation for insistence on transparency and accountability in public office is sitting askance while the shadiness and duplicity surrounding the background of Bola Tinubu is embarrassing the Nigerian presidency and tearing the polity apart.
In a statement by its Director of Public Affairs, Jenkins Udu, the Centre asked Soyinka to speak up on this national embarrassment, reminding him of his own dictum that the man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.
It argued that nothing can be more tyrannical than imposing falsehood- such as false educational claims- on the people and insisting that they must swallow it hook, line and sinker. It therefore urged Soyinka to step out and take a stand on the controversy surrounding Tinubu’s status at CSU.
The statement reads in part:
“We have observed with a measured degree of disquiet the embarrassing tales around President Bola Tinubu’s claim of attending and obtaining a certificate from Chicago State University in the United States of America.
“Most curious about this is Tinubu’s application to the university and the court that his academic records should not be released. This move by the president to shield his academic records from the public is suspicious and embarrassing. It leaves us asking whether there is anything he is hiding from the public. The controversy is, to say the least, messy.
“It is disconcerting that Tinubu has been evading and blocking inquiries into his past records. The opaqueness of his past is one of the grounds on which his election as president is being challenged in court.
“The legal fireworks in the United States on whether to release or not to release Tinubu’s academic records is an embarrassment to Nigeria. It is a matter for disgrace that the public records of Nigeria’s first citizen is shrouded in secrecy. This is unacceptable. Nigerians want nothing but transparency and openness in governance.
“We had expected all this while that the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, the apostle of transparency and accountability in public office, would speak up on this. But this is not the case. Instead, he has maintained a studied silence.
We are constrained to say that Soyinka’s silence on this important national issue is unhealthy. Why has he suddenly lost his voice especially in the light of the fact that he has been speaking lately about his conviction that Bola Tinubu won the 2023 presidential election. We expect Soyinka to deploy the same alacrity with which he has been defending Tinubu’s controversial mandate on his even more controversial educational background especially at it concerns his affiliation with CSU”.