1st September, 2015
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on Tuesday took a swipe at former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, for taking his desperation over the chairmanship of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, CBCIU, to the point of injuring the integrity of Nigeria in the international community.
Soyinka also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to call Oyinlola to order and stop him from continuing with the alleged culture of impunity by claiming the position of Chairman of the board of the centre, is located in Oshogbo, the Osun State capital, even when the law establishing the centre had eased him out.
According to Soyinka, who spoke at a press conference in Lagos, Oyinlola had not only continued to lay claim to the position of chairman of the board, he has been travelling across the globe, aided by Nigeria’s former representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Dr. Michael Omolewa, soliciting for and receiving donations and funds on behalf of the centre.
Soyinka, who is the chairman of the centre, wondered why Oyinlola could become so desperate to the extent of shunning the amended law setting up the centre.
“One way to summarise the situation of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) at this moment requires no deep elaboration. It goes thus: there is a law, and there are ethics. Wherever these two arbiters of public conducts appear to clash, even ethics must bow to law.
“On the other hand, it is useful to remember also that the sinews that bind civilised society together are strengthened when both -law and ethics -converge, and are harmonised in a public cause.
“To come down to the specifics of CBCIU, I require no convincing that this ideal harmonisation was manifested when the lawmakers of Osun State enacted, in 2012, an amendment to the original CBCIU law that had been signed into law by Governor Oyinlola on 29th December, 2008. The original law, in my view, was profoundly unethical.
“The amendment by the succeeding House of Assembly, signed into law on the 31st day of July, 2012, was clearly designed to inject an ethical corrective into the law,” Soyinka said adding that even lawyers have said the amendment supersedes the original law.
“No court judgement exists that voids a single provision of this law – including the setting up of a new board – or its entirety. It is important that this nation, and the entire world of culture and ethical pursuit understand this.
“Contrary to whatever has been propagated so assiduously by some parties of interest in various quarters, no court order exists that prevents the Board that was established under the 2012 amendment from exercising its rights and responsibilities.
“No court order exists that compels the governor or House of Assembly to reisntate the former Board Chairman of 2008.
“No relief has been granted to the ex-governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, that authorises him to present himself to the nation and the world as the substantive chairman of the CBCIU (or ‘Emeritus Chairman’ – among other titles that he has since accorded himself.),” he said adding that this was the position and understanding of the state government’s legal department.
“If these experts are proven wrong, then the current board will bow out without one second’s delay, led by its current chairman. It will most gladly hand over all CBCIU effects in its possession and even tender a public apology to the ex-governor, his ‘board members’, his campaign team and indeed any other interested parties,” Soyinka added.
The Nobel Laureate emphasised that Section 8 of the amended law creating the CBCIU stated that the Board shall consist of a chairman who shall be the governor or anyone appointed by him for the purpose.
This is contrary to the former law which says the board chairman “shall be Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
“What the amendment legislates is that the CBCIU is a public property, established and maintained with state funds, funded by the state, housed by the state, instituted by elected representatives of the people.
“It is not a private, hereditary property, not even of the most elevated royalty.
He said Oyinlola’s desperation had caused the former governor to make foray into the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, to protest his removal from the position he created for himself to remain perpetually while he was governor.
He also said Oyinlola had been parading some forged court documents to back his claim to the seat and get international recognition adding that he (Soyinka) would not have said anything about it if not for the international dimension the embarrassment has assumed.
As a member of UNESCO’s High Panel for Peace, I was made aware – from numerous sources – that Oyinlola, aided by the former Nigerian representative to UNESCO, Dr. Omolewa, continued to wear out carpets leading to the Africa desk, to numerous offices and national delegations to UNESCO.
“However, I studiously refrained from raising my concerns with the Director-General or indeed any other serving UNESCO official, right up to this press conference – which shall be copied to UNESCO.
“Moreover, the Prince continued to make overtures to Governor Aregbesola, and myself, and to leaders in his new political party, pleading that they intervene so that he could be reinstated on the board in any capacity, however subordinate.
“I left that plea to the governor entirely – since it remains his prerogative. I did assure him however that I would not stand in the way.
“I shall reveal here that I went even further – albeit against the grain – but in order to save the nation from international embarrassment through an obsession that I could not yet fully understand – I accommodated Mr. Oyinlola so far as to propose to the governor a special board member, tasked with responsibility for traditional royal cultures.
Simultaneously, however, Oyinlola was in court challenging his rights just as he also made away with files, including every scrap of financial records of the centre, according to Soyinka.
Soyinka said he had been moved to come out against Oyinlola because of the embarrassment he is causing the country.