Professor Wole Soyinka has asked top Nigerian politicians who participated in the just concluded 2023 general elections to send their spokespersons on vacation to Ukraine.
The Nobel laureate based his call on his dissatisfaction with the destructive comments of political spokespersons in the country, especially during and after the February 25 presidential election and the March 11 governorship elections.
The 88-year-old made the call during a media chat on Monday with Channels Television.
While Soyinka did not mention the name of any spokesperson, his description of a young spokesperson who used destructive ethnic rhetorics fit into the person and activities of Femi Fani-Kayode, the spokesperson of the APC presidential campaign council. He compared their behaviour to what is happening in Ukraine.
"I read the papers of Saturday and Sunday, and I read the pronouncements of one of the spokesmen of the political parties, and I asked myself, 'Is this coming before the violence which I have been reading about in Lagos or is it coming after?' What is reported happening, which people I rely on have described to me in Lagos State, is like what is happening somewhere in Ukraine," he said.
"To read what this fellow who is supposed to be a lawyer, educated, and who has also been from one party to the other and back again, and then back again, for me what this young man was writing at the height of turmoil between ethnic groups in Lagos when he should by now be busy pouring oil on troubled waters is a fascistic language which I complained about earlier."
Describing the elections as "not exactly the most edifying exercise that we've been through," Soyinka said the tribal rhetorics of political spokespersons have no merit in an actual democratic state, adding that Nigerians can still take back their country.
"We can still come back to that moment where we all said,' enough of military rule,' I'm talking about June 12. Everyone came together and demonstrated, not just to ourselves, but to the whole world, that we know what democracy is and how to practice it," he said.
"Unfortunately, we seem not to have reached that level of democratic consent, as we exhibited on June 12, but we can still come back to it even with this election."
He then recommended that the first step is for all political contestants "to send all their spokesmen and women on vacation, and say, 'okay, we have completed the major phase of the electoral process. Thank you very much! You have spoken for us enough; from now on, we are speaking in our own voices,'" Soyinka said.