Wole Soyinka, a professor and playwright, has apologised for his criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari’s congratulatory message to Adama Barrow, president-elect of The Gambia.
After Barrow’s victory at the polls ended President Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year grip on power, Buhari had congratulated the West AFrican country, saying he was looking forward to a “smooth transition of power and working with the incoming President of The Gambia to deepen existing cordial relations between both countries”.
However, Soyinka, erroneously thinking Jammeh had won reelection, urged Buhari to avoid “congratulating petty little dictators”.
“President Buhari is congratulating the president-elect of Gambia, that lunatic who makes his citizens undergo hallucinogenic tests to prove that they are not witches on his farm,” the Nobel Laureate said on Monday.
“Please help me beg President Buhari, I don’t say he shouldn’t congratulate Trump because there is no way one can avoid Trump but you can avoid petty little dictators like Jammeh of Gambia who is the opposite of everything one would expect of the true African leader for his or he citizens. Please President Buhari, restrict yourself to those you absolutely have to congratulate.”
Subsequently realising his error, Soyinka apologised for his miscommunication and called for the prosecution of Jammeh “for his twenty-two years of boastful misrule and crimes against humanity”.
“Just before setting off for my media chat at Freedom Park, I was handed a Sunday newspaper with a comment on the recently concluded Gambian Presidential elections. I totally misheard the comment and thought that ex-President Jammeh had again succeeded in manipulating the votes to remain on the continent’s ‘sit-tight’ roll of dishonour,” he said.
“It turned out that I had obtained the wrong picture. The torturer and notorious administrator of hallucinogenic broths to citizens had been dethroned. I therefore take back my criticism of Nigeria’s message of congratulations.
“Let the entire West African sub-region and indeed the entire continent rejoice in the overthrow of the monatrocity who had sworn to rule for a billion years, a throw-back autocrat with delusions of eternal power who casually tossed opposition in dungeons and threw the keys away. It is now time to make Yahweh answer for his twenty-two years of boastful misrule and crimes against humanity.
“Once again, my apologies for the miscommunication. I rejoice with the long-suffering citizens of Gambia, encourage the rehabilitation of that land strip, and recovery of its existence in full liberty, freed of fear, and restored to dignity as part of the sentient species.”
Earlier, at Monday’s press conference, Soyinka had expressed anger at the public scrutiny of his threat to tear up his green card if Donald Trump won the US presidential election, saying it was “not the business of any stupid Nigerian to open his or her mouth” to challenge his decision to leave America.
“If I decide that I want to leave the United States and I want to leave it in a particular way, that’s my business,” he said.
“It’s not the business of the Internet; I don’t know what the excitation is all about. As the saying goes, why do Nigerians wail louder than the bereaved? What is your business?
“What is the business of any stupid Nigerian to open his or her mouth to challenge my right to say I am leaving? Did you get the green card for me? Do I eat in your house? The arrogance of some Nigerians is overwhelming. I don’t interfere with you, why would you interfere with me?”