The Labour Party presidential campaign informed Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka that vice presidential candidate Datti Baba-Ahmed will only accept his challenge for a debate if he presents his “preferred candidate, Bola Tinubu.”
The campaign team stated that Datti declined Soyinka’s offer of a debate “not out of cowardice, but for cultural and political reasons, as he will not be standing opposite him to point out his foolishness to his face.”
In an interview on Channel TV on March 22, Soyinka had challenged Datti to a debate over his remarks.
Datti stated in the interview that the country has no president-elect despite the Independent National Electoral Commission’s declaration of Bola Tinubu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the victor of the election (INEC).
The LP vice presidential candidate stated that Tinubu would rule an unconstitutional government if elected because the APC candidate “has not met legal requirements.”
Soyinka responded to Baba-remark Ahmed’s by stating that the LP vice presidential candidate used “fascistic language”
The Nobel laureate added that he has “never heard anyone intimidate the judiciary as Datti did on television.”
Soyinka challenged Baba-Ahmed to a debate in an article titled “Fascism on Course” regarding the statement that the incoming president “did not satisfy constitutional requirements.”
In a statement released on Saturday, the Obi-Datti media office asked Soyinka to present his preferred presidential candidate, who avoided debates throughout the campaign, for a one-on-one with the LP vice-presidential candidate.
“Like many Nigerians, we are perplexed by the late intervention of our esteemed Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka in matters pertaining to the defective 2023 elections. Where had he been all this time?” the statement asked.
“Professor Soyinka, who should ordinarily and appropriately be regarded as the conscience of the nation, is now criminalising dissent and taking the side of deception and injustice!
“Therefore, we state that the Labour Party vice-presidential candidate, Dr. Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, cannot accept Prof. Soyinka’s offer of a public debate, not out of cowardice but for cultural and political reasons. Datti cannot remain next to the 88-year-old global icon and point out his folly to his face, despite the fact that the elder deserves it, due to cultural differences based on their age and levels of accomplishment. And there is no political foundation for such a challenge, as Professor is not on any of the opposing ballots.
“However, if he is able to use his influence to bring his preferred candidates, who have resisted debates throughout the campaign, to the studio right now, Datti says he will gladly face them.”