The Labour Party said the party’s Vice-presidential candidate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed will not engage in a debate with Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka.
The party disclosed this in a statement signed by the spokesperson of its Presidential Campaign Council (LP-PCC), Yunusa Tanko on Saturday.
The statement reads, “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,” Tanko said.
Recall that the Nobel laureate had earlier challenged Baba-Ahmed to a one-on-one debate on Channels Television regarding the nation’s democracy.
Soyinka, in a statement titled “Fascism on Course,” released on Friday, challenged the LP’s vice-presidential candidate to a debate as regards his claims of Nigeria’s democracy ending if the President-elect, Asiwasju Bola Tinubu, is sworn in May 29.
Soyinka had stated, “May I seize this opportunity, by the way, to condemn the sanctions imposed on CHANNELS Television which anchored the performance of the LP candidate.
“As stated, I watched the programme keenly – saw the valiant efforts of the interviewer to ensure fair hearing.
“I fail to understand just where the station could be faulted, except from a disposition for injustice. To sustain that penalty is to give joy to others who turn Internet into a soakaway for their rancid emissions, yet feel that others should be silenced.
“If CHANNELS feels up to it, I offer myself willing to engage Mr. Datti – or any nominee of his – on its platform on this very bone of contention – one-on-one – without the malodorous intervention of media trolls, and with the same interviewer as mediator.
“That should be taken as a serious offer,” Soyinka had said.