Soyinka, Oyinlola Clash Over Board Chairmanship

Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, is in a tussle with former governor of Osun State, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola in what could be regarded as an international embarrassment.

The stiff between the duo has to do with who, between them, is the legal chairman of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) in Oshogbo, the Osun state capital.

According to Soyinka, who spoke at a press conference on Tuesday September 1, Oyinlola has been carrying out activities as the chairman of the globally acclaimed government-owned organisation after illegally amassing power by doctoring documents to make him the chairman.

Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka

Soyinka said with the collaboration of Nigeria’s former representative to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO), Dr. Omolewa, the former governor has been travelling to different parts of the world soliciting and getting funds and maligning the centre and members of the board.

“One way to summarise the situation of 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,”. 

The professor also revealed that in July 2012, the Osun State House of Assembly amended the original CBCIU law that had been signed into law by Governor Oyinlola on 29 December, 2008 and which, in his view is unethical.

He said those in the legal profession have agreed that the amendment supersedes the original law as signed by Oyinlola and that the validity of the amended law remains, until it is overturned under a new law by the House or a chamber of superior jurisdiction.

Soyinka added: “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 reinstate the former board chairman of 2008.

“No relief has been granted to the ex-governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, that authorizes 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 mentioned Section 8 of the amended law backing the creation of the CBCIU as stating that the Board shall consist of the chairman who shall be the governor or his appointee instead of the former law which stated that the chairman of the Board shall be Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.”

Former governor of Osun state, Olagunsoye Oyinlola

Former governor of Osun state, 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.”

Soyinka, who says he is not desperate for the chairmanship position, added that he only wanted the world to know how Oyinlola is embarrassing the country through his desperation.