Soyinka Accuses Peter Obi Of Encouraging Online Attacks By ‘Obidients

Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has accused Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s 2023 presidential candidate, of encouraging his supporters, known as ‘Obidients’, to attack individuals with opposing views online during the lead-up to the presidential election.

Obi, the former governor of Anambra State, has been at the center of a social media storm as his fervent supporters, the ‘Obidients’, have gained a reputation for aggressively trolling those who criticize or hold differing opinions. 

This contentious dynamic came to a head in May 2023, when Obi visited Soyinka following a wave of social media criticism directed at the literary icon by ‘Obidients’.

 Soyinka had previously criticized comments made by Labour Party vice-presidential candidate Datti Baba-Ahmed, describing them as “fascistic language”.

During the visit, Obi characterized the meeting as a reconciliatory effort. 

However, Soyinka has since refuted this claim, asserting that there was no need for reconciliation as there were no personal conflicts to resolve between him, Obi, or the Labour Party.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Soyinka clarified, “Let me clarify: I know the entity known as Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party. I can relate to him. I know and can relate to the Labour Party on whose platform he contested elections. 

“There are simply no issues to reconcile between those two entities and myself. However, I do not know, and am unable to relate to something known as the ‘Obidient’ or ‘Obidient Family’.”

Soyinka emphasized that during their discussions, topics such as leadership burdens, responsibility, and formal dissociation from intolerable actions were covered, but reconciliation was not on the agenda.

 He described the notion of reconciliation as “N/A – Non Applicable.”

In a recent interview with Noble Nigeria, Soyinka expanded on his concerns, stating that he observed Obi’s direct involvement in managing the ‘Obidients’. 

Soyinka recounted an instance during Obi’s visit where Obi’s actions suggested he was controlling the online trolls. 

He described how Obi took out his mobile device during their conversation and reassured Soyinka about not having to worry about the ‘Obidients’. 

Soyinka suggested this action indicated Obi’s influence over his supporters.

Soyinka further criticized Obi’s leadership capabilities, expressing hope that Obi would not contest future elections. 

“I hope for the sake of the nation that he doesn’t express interest in the next election because for me as a leader, if there was any proof that he was unfit to lead that country, it’s in the conduct which he encouraged among his followers,” Soyinka stated.

Reflecting on the discrepancies between the actual meeting and Obi’s public statements about it, Soyinka accused Obi of misrepresentation.

 He noted that there were witnesses to their meeting who could corroborate his version of events, contrasting sharply with Obi’s public narrative.

Despite pressures not to meet with Obi, Soyinka insisted on the encounter to personally evaluate Obi.

 He concluded that the meeting only reinforced his view of Obi’s inability to lead effectively, based on the latter’s conduct and the behavior he seemingly endorsed among his supporters.

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