Soyinka: I remain centre’s chair ….. NATION

Soyinka:  I remain centre’s  chair

There seems to be no letup in the controversy rocking the leadership of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU) in Osogbo, the Osun State Capital.

Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka yesterday condemned what he called the fraudulent activities of certain former members of the governing board of the CBCIU, who were allegedly still parading themselves as being in charge of the centre.

In the past weeks, there have been controversies over which board is in charge. There have been proclamations and instructions from two boards.  One is headed by Prof Soyinka. The other is led by former Osun State Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

The law establishing the centre, which was opened by the UNESCO as a category 11 facility, was signed into law by Oyinlola on December 29, 2008, making him Board Chairman.

Describing the initial law as “profoundly unethical”, Soyinka said the ‘Oyinlola’s board’ were purporting to be acting in the name of CBCIU, while “collecting money under the name of the board”. The board, it was said, is planning a conference to be held in Bahia, Brazil, in November.

In his address, tagged: Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding: for Culture or Penkelemes ?, the literary icon said Osun State lawmakers have since enacted an amendment, in 2012, to the original CBCIU law signed by Oyinlola.

While stating that the case was already in court, he called on relevant bodies to desist from dealing with ‘Oyinlola’s board’.

His words: “Contrary to whatever has been propagated so assiduously by some parties of interest, 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 Oyinlola that authorises him to present himself the substantive chairman of the CBCIU (or ‘Emeritus Chairman’ – among other titles that he has since accorded himself.)

“Our legal advice is that no basis for such a claim exists! What we do know – and this is clear from the actual court records, not the disseminated, bowdlerized versions, even for the ‘unlearned’ – is that the Court has not even touched the substance of Prince Oyinlola’s appeal for reinstatement!  The only effective law, we are firmly advised, remains the July 2012 Law enacted by Osun State House of Assembly.

“The Amendment legislates that the CBCIU is 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 private, hereditary property, not even of the most elevated royalty”.

Praising President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts at combating corruption, he warned of the consequences of the actions of ‘Oyinloa’s board’ on the country’s image.

“My immediate contribution to that debate shall be phrased along the same terms as I addressed Madame Bokova in Kazakhstan, only, this time, it is addressed to this country’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, who has unusually elevated the anti-corruption struggle to the very top of his governance agenda. I must warn Buhari, in the absence of a Foreign Minister that, as a consequence of activities of this ‘CBCIU’ double, the nation is being dragged into a sleazy situation through the attempted co-option of its foreign missions into logistical support for their global enterprises.

“And so to the question:  “When you leave office, General Buhari, will you also carve out a privatised entity – cultural, educational, political, religious, socio-economic, perhaps even a military unit or whatever – for yourself from public funds, provide it an annuity from the nation’s treasury, empower it to receive funds from internal and external sources, and make yourself, in your own individual person – that is, as Muhammadu Buhari – its Executive Chairman, and for life?”