Wole Soyinka at the Civic Media Lab
According to a SaharaReporters report, Professor Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, has described, as a slap on the faces of Nigerians, the launch of a book on corruption by Mr. Dino Melaye, the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District.
Professor Soyinka stated this on Thursday at the opening ceremony of the Civic Media Lab, an initiative of SaharaReporters Media.
The Nobel laureate, who was the special guest at the event, made a barely disguised reference to the recent launch of Mr. Melaye’s Antidotes for Corruption, describing it as a gathering of some of the most reprehensible people in the country’s politics.
“I hope the media when they do their launch, will not be like the launching with which the nation was treated recently in Abuja. I think this nation — you and I — have been slapped in the face by some of the disgusting reprobates that we know in any level of connection with power,” Professor Soyinka said.
He was alluding to Mr. Melaye, a man who possesses dubious educational qualifications and a member of the country’s debauched political class. Mr. Melaye’s Antidotes for Corruption was launched earlier this month and was received with resounding public derision. This, principally, arose from the author’s profile as a poster boy political excesses, marked by his penchant for gaudy public display of expensive automobiles widely believed to have been acquired with funds amassed through inappropriate and fraudulent activities. The title of the book is a grammatical howler, which re-invited attention to Melaye’s dodgy educational qualifications. Instead of Antidotes to Corruption, Melaye chose Antidotes for Corruption for his 600-page book.
The launch of the book was given a wide berth by the country’s anti-corruption agencies, but had in attendance the Senate President, Mr. Bukola Saraki, who is being tried by the Code of Conduct Tribunal for false assets declaration; Mr. Aminu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, accused of budget padding; and Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who is claiming ownership of $5.9million dollars found in the accounts of four companies prosecuted for corruption.
Professor Soyinka congratulated Omoyele Sowore, founder of SaharaReporters, and expressed hope that the Civic Media Lab will be a genuine media center. He also warned SaharaReporters to be more careful now that the online news platform has a known address in Nigeria.
“I’m here under false pretenses; I was told that I agreed to be present at the launch of this media center. Nobody said to my understanding of English, and my understanding of English Language is not too bad. Nobody said I was coming to launch it.
“My hearing may be a bit wonky, but you know… still, here I am. Let me congratulate you once again on the launching of this media center.
“I hope it makes the media more careful, now that people know where to come and find you and to deal with you when you go wrong, and I hope it will be a genuine media center, which means that when we stop by, we would have a drink before we get to more serious tasks,” the 1986 Nobel laureate said.
The SaharaReporters founder thanked Professor Soyinka for making out time to attend despite his hectic schedule, including his involvement in the ongoing Lagos at 50 celebrations.
Sowore stated that the “Civic Media Lab” which is a project of Sahara Reporters Media Foundation is a different entity from “SaharaReporters Media Group” which operates of SaharaReporters.com. He said SaharaReporters will remain in New York where it was founded in 2005. Sowore later took Professor Soyinka, Mr. Tunji Lardner, Ms. Ayo Obe, Mr. Jahman Anikulapo and other prominent activists, journalists including some fellows of Civil Media Lab and many prominent persons in the literary and advocacy world on a tour of the Civic Media Lab. He explained that the Civic Media Lab which has green outdoor space provides for serious thinking and relaxation.
“I also want to assure you that this media center is different to the extent that if you wait long enough, there will be palm wine available on the other side of the center. If you want to pour libation to the gods,” he said.
The Civic Media Lab has, on its walls, the images of famous leaders of resistance in Nigeria. They include images of ace musician, Fela Kuti, and Gani Fawehinmi, human rights lawyer. The walls also tell the story of protests in Nigeria, beginning with illustrations from the 1960s and ending with the 2012 Occupy Nigeria protest.