SOYINKA, TIWANTIWA AND THE SURVIVAL OF NIGERIA’S DEMOCRACY.
By Rev. Innocent Chukwudi Peace-Udochukwu
In recent months, the declaration of Bola Tinubu as the winner of February 25th Presidential Election has sparked a national conversation about the dangers of tribalism in Nigeria. While the specifics of the case are still being debated, there are broader implications for the future of democracy in the country. This article will explore these implications, and what they mean for all Nigerians.
When Mahmood Yakubu led Independent National Electoral Commission INEC declared TInubu as the winner of February 25, 2023, there were serious questions about the validity of this result. These questions center around several issues: the implications of a US court judgement that Tinubu had forfeited drug money to the US government, the double nominations of his running mate, his Forged NYSC CERTIFICATE and irregularities in the handling of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Despite all these key issues been raised, It’s important to note that Tinubu is receiving widespread support from his Yoruba ethnic group, including influential figures such as Wole Soyinka, a Nobel laureate, and prominent pastors.
This has led some to question whether tribal loyalties are influencing the debate around the election result.
This kind of support, which is based on outdated and potentially harmful beliefs, such as ‘Tiwantiwa’ and ‘Obatala’ ideologies could have a devastating impact on the country’s ability to move forward as a united and progressive nation.
It’s important to emphasize that, for some Yoruba people, Obatala is seen as a deity that requires blind obedience, rather than simply representing traditional virtues.
This belief could be extremely dangerous for the unity of Nigeria.
It must also be emphasized that not all Yoruba people subscribe to this belief, and it is only held by a particular subset of the population. And the fact that this belief is so divisive makes it especially dangerous for national unity.
The term ‘Tiwantiwa’ refers to a political ideology that emerged in Nigeria in the ’60s, the ideology promotes the idea that members of the Yoruba ethnic group should prioritize their own interests above those of the country as a whole. It was first promoted by Obafemi Awolowo, a Yoruba politician, in his quest for political power.
However, the ideology has had lasting negative consequences for Nigeria, leading to division and conflicts.
The 2023 presidential election in Nigeria was marred by numerous irregularities and allegations of fraud. According to international observers, including the European Union, the election did not meet international standards for free and fair elections. Nevertheless, Nobel Prize-winning author and Yoruba politician Wole Soyinka defended the election results and criticized those who questioned their legitimacy.
In the aftermath of the election, Soyinka issued a series of statements attacking those who questioned the results. He accused them of being ‘enemies of democracy’ and ‘saboteurs of the Nigerian state’. He also claimed that any attempt to overturn the election results would be a ‘coup against the will of the people’. These statements have been met with widespread criticism from both within and outside of Nigeria.
There’s no doubt that Soyinka’s statements would have a chilling effect on free speech and political debate in Nigeria.
They will also create a climate of fear and uncertainty, leading to a decline in civic engagement and public trust.
The effects of these developments are likely to be long-lasting, and will have significant implications for the future of Nigeria’s democracy.
There’s is no doubt that Wole Soyinka is a well-known champion of democracy and human rights.
He has spoken out against military dictatorships and advocated for greater freedom of expression.
In fact, I believe that he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, not just for his outstanding works of literature but also in recognition of his ‘courageous and uncompromising commitment to human rights and social justice’.
However, his recent statements in support of the flawed election results are in stark contrast to his earlier stance on these issues.
It’s clear that Soyinka’s support for the flawed election results in favor of his tribesman TInubu seems to be motivated by his belief in the ancient tribal ideologies of Tiwantiwa and Obatala.
These ideologies prioritize the interests of one’s ethnic group over the broader goals of patriotism, unity and overall development of the Nigerian society.
As a result, his actions seem to reflect a narrow, tribalistic worldview that contradicts his past statements and principles.
Soyinka’s statements and actions have serious implications for the future of democracy in Nigeria.
If prominent figures like him continue to prioritize ethnic loyalty over democratic principles, it will be difficult for the country to achieve true democracy and unity.
This could lead to further division and instability, and could ultimately undermine the very foundations of the Nigerian state.
In light of Wole Soyinka’s recent actions and statements, the Nobel laureate prize committee should be deeply concerned about the state of democracy in Nigeria. We believe that it is essential for them to uphold the values of democracy and human rights, and to promote unity and progress in the country.
In addition to issuing a statement of condemnation, the Nobel committee should consider revoking Wole Soyinka’s Nobel Prize.
We believe that his actions are not befitting of a Nobel laureate, and that he has betrayed the values of democracy and human rights that the prize represents.
We hope that this action will send a strong message and serve as a deterrent to others who might consider similar actions.
The international community should consider targeted sanctions against individuals and entities that are found to be violating democratic principles and values in Nigeria.
This will send a strong message, while avoiding any unintended consequences that could harm ordinary Nigerians.
It is clear that the future of Nigeria depends on the promotion of unity and democracy. This is a call on all Nigerians to work together to build a better future for the country.
This will require the support of civil society, the media, and the international community. Together, we can ensure that the values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are upheld, and that Nigeria has a bright future ahead.
Rev. Innocent Chukwudi Peace-Udochukwu writes from Abuja