Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday, said he has resigned as the chairman of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) following a rift with former Governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, over who chairs the board.
In a statement, Soyinka said that he was frustrated and embarrassed at the continued reference of a court suit involving Oyinlola and the CBCIU as a leadership tussle.
“This is painful reductionism,” Soyinka said in a letter dated July 14, 2015.
“In any case, I am left with no choice but to openly demand of the governor of Osun State, the immediate and formal acceptance of my resignation letter from CBCIU chairmanship.”
Soyinka and Oyinlola had been engaged in a war of words over the leadership of the Osogbo-based CBCIU, a category 2 facility under the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, established in 2009.
Prof. Soyinka had stated last month that Mr. Oyinlola’s parading of himself as the head of CBCIU was “unlawful and unethical.”
In 2008, as governor of Osun State, Mr. Oyinlola signed into law the CBCIU Act which stipulated that he would be the Chairman of the Board for life. However, four years later, the Osun State House of Assembly amended the law to state that the Chairman of the Board shall be ”the Governor or anyone appointed by him for that purpose”. Governor Rauf Aregbesola appointed Mr. Soyinka as Chairman of the Board in August 2012 but Oyinlola challenged the decision in court.
In his letter of resignation, Soyinka noted that his decision to head the CBCIU Board was out of self-service.
“I undertook this assignment on principle – quite apart from my sentimental attachment to the political constituency of my late friend, Bola Ige, assassinated by those very forces against which CBCIU must remain resolutely embattled,” Soyinka wrote.
“More relevant however is that I have always found it despicable conduct when an elected individual diverts the resources of the people over whom he presides to carving out for himself a sinecure. Self-service should not be read in the vocabulary of anyone fortunate enough to be called to serve his or her people.”
Professor Soyinka in his statement insisted that the “legal tussle” is between Mr. Oyinlola and Osun state authorities.
“Let me repeat this: I have not instituted any case against either governor, nor have I been issued with any summons to appear either as plaintiff or respondent,” he said.
“The CBCIU is of course the object of contention, but the CBCIU is not listed among my personal possessions or creations. To play a variation on the late MKO Abiola’s favorite sayings: while I do occasionally loan out my head to crack a coconut, I deplore any attempt to have it shaved it in my absence. I am not a party to this case.”
Soyinka also said that the state’s lawyers decision to leave him out of the court hearings was an affirmation of his irrelevance in the matter.
“I am totally in the dark, except through the concern of colleagues who have forwarded media reports on the notice of resumption. I am out of the country at present and, for all I know, may be cited for contempt for failure to put in appearance etc.
“I must not end this brief position statement without commending Prince Oyinlola yet again for pursuing his quest for justice the civil way – submitting himself to the authority of the law courts. This is what has been constantly urged on him – wait. Do not pre-empt the court and do not concoct, distort or embellish its pronouncements,” Soyinka said.