When his initial rebuttal of the now patented ‘two behemoths’ of the ruling APC and the erstwhile ruling PDP was made, wherein he asked the Nigerian electorate to reject both parties at the presidential election in the name of an entirely new direction, one’s thought was in the mold of discomfort. One saw no reason why Soyinka would be speaking with half his mouth. After all, prior to the preceding presidential election in 2015, the same man came out without mincing words in rejecting President Jonathan while endorsing candidate Buhari. In this respect, one opined that he ought to have done similarly on this occasion by naming a name rather than simply itemizing the un-anointed-s. In this reckoning, therefore, his failure/refusal to name a name rendered his advice too late and somewhat invalid. Further, one thought, taking a leaf from the events of 2015, his naming a name could indeed sway the election.
Apparently aware of the half-measured significance of his rebuttal of the APC and the PDP, Soyinka proceeded a week later couched under the aegis of the ‘Citizen Forum’ – a platform he admitted had been retired/rested since the days of the military – to make an endorsement by naming a name. His choice of the YPP’s Kingsley Moghalu evoked the immediate reaction of one of the presidential candidates who incidentally had sought Soyinka’s endorsement at the inception of his campaigns. The AAC’s Omoyele Sowore in a statement signed by the DG of his campaign organization/Take It Back Movement cried foul and insisted that Nigeria isn’t served by the politics of endorsements and godfathers. The statement added that the sole endorsement that mattered was that of the Nigerian people. Good talk. Or not, once one considers that Sowore had earlier sought Soyinka’s endorsement, although the latter stayed mute. One wagers that had he obtained the endorsement of the Nobel Laureate, endorsements would have been okay. Indeed, Sowore celebrated his endorsements by several Nigerian celebrities e.g. Duncan Mighty. Alas, since Soyinka didn’t endorse him, endorsements are suddenly bad for the polity!
In focusing a critical lens on the eventual/actual endorsement by Mr. Soyinka of candidate Moghalu, one is inclined to believe that it was an endorsement for the APC/PMB through the backdoor. To begin with, Soyinka’s work has been enjoying funding from successive APC governments in Lagos. His cozy relationship with the likes of Bola Tinubu and Rotimi Amaechi is well known. Why his preference/knowledge of an ‘entirely new direction’ only cropped up at the eleventh electoral hour is bemusing, to put it mildly. The timing of his dismissal of the APC and PDP is also very suspect. In a sense, it seemed as though he was testing the waters particularly as any explicit endorsement was withheld at that stage. The timing of the Moghalu endorsement following a near consensus of endorsements by geo-cultural organizations across the country of the PDP’s Atiku Abubakar was equally suspect. The claim of some empirical evidence signaling Moghalu’s superiority among the lot was preposterous.
Fact is that the Buhari government had become too unpopular for Soyinka to endorse it publicly. The next best thing, therefore, was to offer support in invisible ways. Indeed, Soyinka knew better than anyone that Moghalu stood no realistic chance. The performance of his running mate at the vice presidential debate was a rude awakening to Nigerians that perhaps their best leadership materials are very much resident in the PDP and the APC. But beyond this, how is one to comprehend the endorsement of Moghalu by Soyinka? It only makes sense in the realm of conspiracy theories. As a ploy to split southeast votes between Peter Obi sentiments and the delusional/gullible Moghalu sentiments – which would be fueled by those for whom Soyinka is held in high regard within Nigeria’s political space – the argument holds some merit. However, with the grandly dismal return of Moghalu in the election that had a senatorial candidate from his party post multiples of his total votes, conspiracy theorists of this view must hold their peace.
As for Sowore, one hopes he enjoyed his vacation travelling across his fatherland while addressing “crowds” of 20-80 persons at bus parks. To those who actually believed and made support efforts through donations and more, one hopes the scam is apparent by now. In the end, a vital lesson from the recent elections is that Nigeria may indeed be “saved”, but certainly not by the Nigerian diaspora. Those who make up that block may get bored from time to time and return home to exploit the deep-seated pro-colonial phantasmagoria of the average African. However, as most have by now been made aware, no one person genuinely serves two homes. It is either one home is nourished at the expense of the other, or the latter is simply exploited when a break/vacation is sought from the former…