The vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, has said that there is no political basis to debate with Prof. Wole Soyinka on the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.
Reacting to a one-on-one debate challenge to him by Soyinka over his views on the constitutionality of inaugurating President-elect, Bola Tinubu, Baba-Ahmed told the Nobel laureate to instead bring his preferred candidates to debate him.
In a statement by the Obi-Datti Media Office on Saturday, the LP vice-presidential candidate said his decision not to take Soyinka up on his offer was not out of cowardice but for cultural and political reasons.
He said one of the reasons he would not debate the celebrated writer is that he was not on any of the opposing ballots in the election. Datti, however, said that if Soyinka could use his influence to bring out his preferred candidates for the debate, he was willing to take them on.
DATTI BABA-AHMED WILL NOT DEBATE PROF. SOYINKA.
Like many Nigerians we are bewildered by the late hour intervention of our respected Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka in issues around the flawed 2023 elections. Where was he all this while?
One of those who should ordinarily and pic.twitter.com/xK11Bm5D1o
— Dr Yunusa Tanko (@YunusaTanko) April 8, 2023
Baba-Ahmed had on Wednesday, March 22, called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief Justice of Nigeria not to swear in Tinubu, whom INEC declared as the President-Elect, insisting that declaring Tinubu the winner and issuing him a certificate of return was against the constitution.
The 53-year-old, who was a guest on Channels TV’s Politics Today, went on to stress that “whoever swears in Mr Tinubu” has “ended democracy” in Nigeria, a position that did not sit well with Soyinka and several other prominent Nigerians.
Reacting to Baba-Ahmed’s controversial position, the Nobel laureate described the remarks as a “kind of do-or-die attitude and provocation” that goes contrary to democratic disposition.
Soyinka said the LP vice-presidential candidate tried to “dictate to the supreme arbiter of the nation”, adding that it was unacceptable.
See full statement by the Obi-Datti Media Office below:
DATTI BABA-AHMED WILL NOT DEBATE PROF. SOYINKA. Like many Nigerians we are bewildered by the late hour intervention of our respected Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka in issues around the flawed 2023 elections.
Where was he all this while? One of those who should ordinarily and rightfully be honoured as the conscience of the nation, Prof. Soyinka is now criminalising dissent and infact weighing in on the side of fraud and injustice! We state therefore that the vice-presidential candidate of Labour Party, Dr. Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed cannot take up Prof. Soyinka’s offer of a public debate, not out of cowardice, but for cultural and political reasons.
Culturally it’s just not decent, their age and accomplishment gaps taken into account, for Datti to sit opposite the 88 year-old global icon and point out his folly to his face, even if the old man called for it. And politically there is no basis for such a challenge in that Prof. is not on any of the opposite ballots.
If however he can use his influence to drag his preferred candidates, who resisted debates throughout the campaign, to the studio this second, Datti says he is more than willing to take them on. Signed: Obi-Datti Media Office.