Posted by By Kodilinye Obiagwu on
OSTENSIBLY to douse tension and put the group on the path of true reconciliation, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has called for fresh polls.....
OSTENSIBLY to douse tension and put the group on the path of true reconciliation, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has called for fresh polls within the next two weeks in Pro-National Conference Organisation (PRONACO).
He also refuted report that he was ready to resign as the group's deputy chairman and declared: "I cannot resign from a position that I never held. I have never been deputy chairman, I can't be deputy chairman. I am a floor member of PRONACO. I don't know who made me a deputy chairman. I represent the Citizens' Forum, one of the associate organisations that make up PRONACO. I am one of those who have been insisting that things must be regularised and that there should be proper elections through one mechanism or the other."
"As far as I or the Citizens' Forum is concerned, no elections have been held; we have to revert to status quo. We insist that the election must be held and should not shift away from a date immediately preceding or after the plenary session. It is only in holding this election right next to the plenary session that we can guarantee that we can tell anybody who says that he was not there to go and sit down."
At a press conference yesterday in Lagos, the literary icon also observed that part of the problems of the PRONACO was the leadership style of the chairman, Chief Anthony Enahoro. He noted that "the late Beko Rasome-Kuti complained bitterly against it and it has been pointed out to him at several meetings. But let me say that Enahoro is just a fraction of the problem and by no means the source of the problems in PRONACO."
Soyinka insisted that he did not subscribe to the notion that an election was held. He said: "The notice to hold the election was too short to have true representation of PRONACO. The notice was not even sent out in the usual way. It was sent out on Friday for a meeting on Monday. The complaints were that those things were sent out deliberately to exclude some people so that there would be a small caucus. I don't subscribe to that, and once again we are back to the conspiracy theory because people were impatient and did not ensure that the elections were held back to back with the plenary session. At the plenary everybody is there and that is the crucial matter. It has left people to conclude that there was a conspiracy to exclude some people. These elections have to hold in the manner they have been agreed, back to back with the plenary."
He continued: "I have not confirmed from my intense enquiries that the plenary mandated anything of such. It was not the decision of the plenary to hold the General Assembly on June 19, 2006.
"The secretariat should continue to take its instructions from the head of Administration Baba Omojola, Secretary General Mr. Sam Ominisi and of course from the chairman, Chief Enahoro. These are the people who have been directing the affairs of PRONACO.
"PRONACO is supposed to be an organisation dedicated to the principles of democracy and if we see democracy being shortchanged in any way, we have the responsibility to try and amend it.
"I had said in the past that for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hold genuine elections, it should not wait for proven cases of irregularities to be taken to court. It should annul such elections and go ahead to conduct fresh ones in the areas. If I expect INEC to hold genuine elections, what would I prescribe in a small organisation like this that I am involved in?"
"I wish to publicly appeal to Enahoro to change his leadership style. His style must be sensitive to the feelings, opinions and ideas of the rank and file. His present style encourages suspicion or creates an atmosphere of suspicion. It leads to conspiracy, real conspiracy as well as conspiracy theories. And I think he needs to curb the propensity of people around him like Wale Okunniyi to issue inflammatory statements, which do not help matter."
Soyinka described as condemnable the trial for sedition of the two journalists by an Abuja High Court. "It is shocking that the two journalists should be arrested, taken to court or denied bail. The constitution should be rewritten to avoid a situation like this. I can hear the government saying that the trial should continue and say that it is up to the courts. The judiciary should not allow the people to lose confidence in it."
He described President Olusegun Obasanjo's efforts to wash his hands off the failed tenure elongation as childish and unconvincing.
"It is a childish ploy. He cannot deny it either before Nigerians at home or foreigners. He should not do it. He should drop it and concentrate on his works and the legacy he wants to leave behind," he added.
On the search of the next president, he said the present government has the right to search for a successor but "it is the people of Nigeria, the electorate who should decide on who will be the next president."
On whether he will quit PRONACO, he said: "The Citizens' Forum which I am a member is still part and parcel of PRONACO. If things don't change, we will see what I will do. I can withdraw from PRONACO but I prefer to say that we will cross that bridge when we get there." He however noted: "I am tired of playing fireman, PRONACO is not the only issue. I have other important things to do."
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