The Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka has granted courtesy call request of a veteran journalist, Lekan Alabi , 52 years after frantic efforts by the foremost media guru to engage him in heart to heart discussions
Penpushing reports that, Soyinka on Wednesday warmly welcome Alabi accompanied by founder of Penpushing media, Prince Dimeji Kayode-Adedeji, Samson Akindele (General Manager, Fresh F, Radio Station, Abeokuta) and Biodun Lashile(a poet and author) to his private residence located in Kemta, Abeokuta.
The renowned Soyinka while ushering the veteran journalist and the entourage to his residence expressed delight to host him after a long break, while the guest also could not hide his joy sitting with Soyinka, after over five decades attempt to have him.
Penpushing further reports that, Alabi who was a former Chief Press Secretary to three former Governors in Oyo State, and had also served as Head Corporate Affairs of Odua Group of Companies used the occasion to narrate his experiences in falling in love with Soyinka
‘Today,52 years after, it has pleased God that I honour the kind invitation extended to me in 1969, while a 19 year old student of African Church Grammar School, Apata Ganga, Ibadan, Oyo State, by Professor(then Mr Wole Soyinka, then the Head of the School of Drama) (now the Theatre Arts Department) of the University of Ibadan’,Alabi stated
The media guru also used the unique occasion to present his biography title,’Oloye Lekan Alabi…An Unbelievable Life’, authored by Prof O.B.C Nwolise, a aformer Head of the Political Science, Department of the University of Ibadan.
Penpushing also reports that,Alabi, going back memory lane said he wrote a letter to the then Nigerian Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon whose administration detained Soyinka on need to release him from Kaduna prison.
‘At the outbreak of the Nigeria Civil war, sometime in 1967,the then Head of State of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon, was quoted in the blazing front page of the Daily Times newspaper as vowing that ’Wole Soyinka will remain in prison as long as the war lasts-Gowon’, he recalled
‘As an admirer of the detained (Soyinka) and human rights campaigner, I objected to the drastic decision of the Gowon-led FMG to clamp Soyinka into indefinite detention at the Kaduna prison, on the allegation of his visiting the then Military Governor of the Eastern region of Nigeria,the late Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu who was on the verge of seceding the region from Nigeria declaring it the Republic of Biafra’
‘I thereafter, wrote a letter of protest, on behalf of the detainee, to Gen Gowon appealing that he should kindly release Mr Soyinka or take him to court of law. My letter was acknowledged. I also wrote two other letters. One of the detainee, in care of the chief warder of Kaduna prison, wherein I pledged my solidarity to him and prayed that he would not die in detention’
‘My third letter was to the Editor of the Daily Times newspaper, informing him of my actions, brought about his newspaper’s story. Two years later, in 1969, Professor Wole Soyinka was released from indefinite detention without trial. He thereafter wrote me a letter of appreciation, and invited me to visit him at the School of Drama UI. The day I kept the appointment in UI, Prof Soyinka’s secretary told me he was out of town. I nevertheless, left a note behind’.
‘It was not that I did not see Prof Soyinka since then, at various places and occasions, I never, for once broke protocols to introduce myself to him. As the secondary school boy who wrote the above described letters’
The Ekefa Olubadan of Ibadanland said he was happy that after a 52 years break, he was able to sit with Soyinka, however, lamented that it is a pity that Nigeria is worse off today than 1967, particularly in the realms of justice, values, security, education, governance, economy, politics and religion among others
‘Professor Wole Soyinka and his living peers martyrs for equity and socio-economic balance will be wondering where Nigeria is heading. If the truth must be told, the dead agitators for true federalism will be turning in their graves. We must not let them curse us for wasting their precious blood in vain’, Alabi emphasised
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