Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has knocked The Nation over a report published by reporters, Ozolua Ukakheme and Ernest Nwokolo, about comments attributed to the professor.
The report had quoted Soyinka saying that President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to address herdsmen crisis in the country had eroded his administration’s achievements.
It claimed the playwright made the statement on Sunday at his Ijegba home in Abeokuta, Ogun State while hosting 85 pupils from all the six geopolitical zones of the country to mark his 85th birthday.
“I am sure that carelessness and single act which has resulted in hundreds of people being killed in massacre, in their farms and their farms taken over; it has wiped away a lot of the positive achievements of the government,” Soyinka was quoted saying.
In a statement on Tuesday, the octogenarian denounced the report ‘in very strong terms’.
“I am appalled that such a twisted and unprofessional account could be disseminated by a paper that has earned itself a high level of public regard, not only for its reporting, but for the galaxy of perceptive contributors on national affairs and other issues of public interest. It is a gross disservice to truth and conscience, and the pursuit of the journalistic profession as a whole.
“At no time did I utter the words attributed to me by that paper, which sought to cite the plague of violence by nomadic herdsmen for the ‘erosion of Buhari’s achievements’.
“Indeed, at no time in that exchange did the ‘achievements’ of Nigeria’s current government – real or fictitious – come under consideration. The headlining is especially gratuitous, fictitious, and dishonest,” Soyinka said.
“For the avoidance of doubt, a school pupil had requested my assessment of ALL past Nigerian governments. In order to enable these pupils develop as objective, all-round critics, constantly aware of the context in which opinions should be formed, I began by warning them that governance is a difficult undertaking. I went on to add that governing a complex nation space known as Nigeria is especially challenging.”
He also described the report as “crude, mind-boggling, propaganda, unworthy of any but suborned professionals.”