*Baba-Ahmed will debate with your preferred candidates not you - Labour party replies Wole Soyinka*

According to the LP vice presidential candidate, “whoever swears in Mr Tinubu” has “ended Democracy” in Nigeria. Reacting to the interview that saw the National Broadcasting Commission NBC issuing an N5 million fine on Channels TV, the Nobel Laureate described Baba-Ahmed's remarks as a “kind of do-or-die attitude and provocation” that goes contrary to democratic disposition.

The revered poet’s position on Datti’s utterances, however, did not go down well with many supporters of the LP’s presidential candidate and his vice, as they dragged Soyinka on social media.

Giving a reply to these criticisms and the conduct of Datti Baba-Ahmed, Soyinka in a statement titled “Fascism on Course”, noted that Nigerian Democracy 2023 has witnessed innovations largely in the retrogressive vein, as violence, ethnic profiling and intimidation continue to be easily overlooked even as they are directed against dissenting voices. He condemned the sanction against Channels TV and praised the professionalism of the anchor who he stressed made several attempts to keep Baba-Ahmed in check while on air. He went on to challenge the LP’s vice presidential candidate to a debate as regards his claims of Nigeria’s democracy ending if Tinubu is sworn in come May 29th. Reacting to a one-on-one debate challenge 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, May 8, 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 is willing to take them on.

Read the statement below

‘’DATTI BABA-AHMED WILL NOT DEBATE PROF. SOYINKA. Like many Nigerians, we are bewildered by the later-hours of 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 weighing in on the side of fraud and injustice! We state therefore that the vice-presidential candidate of the 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 icons 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.''


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