Former Osun State Governor Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola has promised to explore opportunities for the resolution of the leadership tussle between him and the Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, over the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU).
Oyinlola, who spoke with reporters at his Okuku country home yesterday at a news briefing, said he would rather address the issues associated with the crisis than engaging Soyinka in a media war.
Oyinlola was the chairman, board of the centre, at its inception in 2008, before Governor Rauf Aregbesola replaced him with Soyinka.
He said the Nobel laureate was misinformed “on the true story, structure of and philosophy behind the establishment of the centre.”
Narrating the peaceful steps he had taken to resolve the matter, Prince Oyinlola said despite the incessant attacks “on my personality by the professor, I will still be cultured in dealing with this matter. Because I believe, to the best of my knowledge that there is no
animosity between me and Professor Soyinka, I have, in consultation with my governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, made moves to meet the professor and give him the correct information on the centre, for him to be guided.
“The moves have sadly been rebuffed. I visited his home in Lagos on the advice of my governor. He was not in and never acknowledged that visit. I made several phone calls to him, which were never answered. I tried reaching
him unsuccessfully through his daughter, Mrs. Moremi Onijala.
“The respected professor spoke of ethical issues concerning the CBCIU. His attacks did not just start. He did much more in 2008 when he opposed the establishment of
the CBCIU and used his contacts in and out of the country to wage a war, which we won.
“In 2008, Prof. Soyinka
unsuccessfully sought to enlist the support of former President Umaru Musa Yar Adua against us. This time, he is appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari with insinuations of ethical matters manifestly based
on falsehood. I, however, will still assume that he has been misinformed on the true story, structure of and philosophy behind the establishment of the centre.
“UNESCO, around May 2007, took a decision to establish a category two institute (on culture) in Africa, which, it noted, would be the first
of its kind on the continent. A number of countries in Africa showed interest. Nigeria was one of them.
“To strengthen Nigeria’s bid for the institute, the presidency acquired archival materials of renowned culture icon, Prof Ulli Beier and sent the then Minister of Culture, Prof. Babalola Borishade, to Sydney, Australia to seal a deal with him on the matter.
“However, Beier gave two conditions, which
he said must be met before he would grant Nigeria’s request. These two conditions are, one, the institute must be sited in Osogbo where he lived and around where the majority of the materials were gathered over the decades he was here. The second condition was on who would preside over the board of trustees of the centre.
‘board’ tested this in court in 2013 when it sought to take over a case instituted by us. And what did Soyinka get from that move? The Federal High Court, Osogbo in a ruling on October 10, 2013 (appeal on which was struck out by the Court of Appeal, Akure on February 26), decided as follows:
“It is not in doubt that the first plaintiff, ‘ Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding,’ a UNESCO- affiliated
institution, was established in Osogbo, Osun State through the Osun State House of Assembly, which passed the law in that behalf, which was signed into law on December 29, 2008. Thereafter, it was registered under Part C of the Companies and Allied Matters Act vide a
certificate of incorporation dated July 23, 2009.
“As this case is
still at its preliminary stage, I will refrain from making comments
that may have the effect of determining the substantive suit one way or the other. However, once a body becomes incorporated, under the Companies and Allied Matters Act as an Incorporated Trustee, from the date of its registration, it becomes a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal. The Companies and Allied Matters Act
(CAMA) is a federal legislation and once a body is registered under it, it cannot be regulated outside the said legislation i.e. CAMA.
“The court further held that the case was instituted on the instruction of “the Registered Trustees of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, who are the existing parties in thiscase. The court went further to state that “the party represented by Mr. T.S. Adegboyega (i.e. Soyinka’s board) are not parties on record and as such cannot discontinue a process they have not initiated.
“The court concluded that a non-party in a case cannot decide the
direction it should take. To steer a ship to harbour, one must of necessity enter it first. And, did I hear Prof. Soyinka right when he said there had been no
court pronouncement on the status of his ‘board’? I believe he has been grossly misinformed.”