A former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, has described Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka’s criticism of him over the status of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Osogbo, as an exercise in ignorance and mischief.
Soyinka had in a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, took a swipe at the former governor for taking his desperation over the chairmanship of the CBCIU to the point of tarnishing the integrity of Nigeria in the international community.
The Nobel Laureate, who is Chairman of the board of the CBCIU, accused Mr. Oyinlola of laying claim to the position despite the fact that the law establishing the centre had eased him out. He further alleged that the ex-governor 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.
Although the ex-governor’s spokesman, Mr. Lasisi Lagunju, noted on Wednesday that Oyinlola would soon respond officially to the allegations, another of his aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said his boss expressed surprise that the literary giant was fighting over a centre, whose creation he opposed in 2008.
He said, “There is a sense in which one can excuse his outburst because it seems he does not understand the mechanism that established the institute.
“He is simply ignorant. He is talking as if the centre is just an Osun thing, whereas its status is that of a trust in which Osun State is a major stakeholder just as the Federal Republic of Nigeria and UNESCO are.
“That is why, on the board, each of these stakeholders has a representative. The Federal Ministry of Culture is representing the Federal Government. Osun is represented by the state’s Ministry of Culture. Prof. Peter Okebukola is on the board, representing the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta while the late Uli Beier family is also represented. So, how can an individual or a party claim ownership of such a centre?
“But we know that beyond ignorance, Soyinka is also being mischievous. Someone of his status should know the facts. He also ought to know that all he is doing is medicine after death and it ought to be a matter of shame because he opposed the establishment of the CBCIU when we were struggling to get UNESCO approval”.