Wole Soyinka, a professor and Nobel laureate, has defended the decision of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State to defect from the All Progressives Congress, APC, saying that nobody can deny him of his "inalienable entitlement."
Soyinka said this on Thursday at the launch of his latest interventions series, Interventions VIII, titled Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?: Gani’s Unfinished Business, in Lagos.
The Nobel laureate, who explained that he was not campaigning for any political party, remarked that Governor Ortom should not be crucified for simply changing his political affiliation.
Soyinka added that he told the Governor in a letter that his choice to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is justified, especially after "being provoked by disillusionment and sense of impotence" he might have witnessed under the APC.
He said, “I am not campaigning for any party. That is my position on those that leave their party to another. They do it for all kind of reasons. And I do not believe that Ortom, the governor of one of the states, should be crucified by any power or force for taking decision.
“As the leader of a state that experienced attacks, you have a right to seek the promise of an alternative means of security for your people because they remain your primary responsibility.
“We are all free over the actual choice of an alternative destination but no one can deny the inalienable entitlement to such action especially when they are provoked by disillusionment and sense of impotence under existing association.
Soyinka also criticised the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and other agencies of government for suddenly embarking on what he described as a "heavy-handed campaign" on Governor Ortom, following his decision to leave the ruling party.
He wondered if it was a coincidence that the anti-graft agency has begun to question the Governor because he switched political parties.
“Suddenly we see the beginning of a heavy-handed campaign, reprisal and unruly circles over your political decision. This goes beyond any immediately-affected state. And alert us all to the threat against uncommon democratic definition and the basic right of free choice of political powers towards its attainment. I can only urge you to remain resilient, unbowed and undeterred.
“Due to the crisis in the country, someone defected and then the EFCC started chasing him. Does that look like a coincidence or what?’’ Soyinka queried.