Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has warned Nigerians to be careful about a former president whom he accused of suspiciously trying to redirect their minds to elect "Lucifer from hell".
While speaking at a symposium on fake news organised by the BBC in Abuja on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, Soyinka said the unnamed former president is pretending to care about Nigeria's progress.
He said the former president's sudden support of a candidate, whom he demonised for years as unsuitable, should be treated with scepticism by well-meaning Nigerians.
He said, "We have got to develop a very healthy scepticism. If someone in a position of power for eight years has lectured a nation for eight years and after that continued year after year to continue to direct the minds of a whole nation in one direction only saying, 'This is Lucifer from hell' for eight years in office and several more years out of office saying, 'This is Lucifer' and then one day, he changed his left hand and says, 'Behold your redeemer', which of the two is fake news?"
Even though Soyinka failed to mention any names, the object of his attack is believed to be his long-time rival, Olusegun Obasanjo, who served as Nigeria's democratic president between 1999 and 2007. The other party Soyinka said Obasanjo called "Lucifer" is believed to be his vice president, Atiku Abubakar.
Obasanjo and Atiku sensationally fell out while they were both in government as Obasanjo relentlessly accused Atiku of engaging in corrupt practices while Atiku stood in the way of Obasanjo's doomed third term ambition. Obasanjo subsequently branded Atiku unfit for office when he made failed bids for the presidency in 2007, 2011 and 2015.
However, the two buried the hatchet in October 2018 and Obasanjo has publicly backed Atiku to defeat incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, in the February 16, 2019 presidential election, a turnaround that surprised many.
2019 presidential race
While next month's election is expected to be keenly-contested between Atiku and Buhari, they face competition from other candidates including Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC).
Others are Tope Fasua of the Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party (NIP), Adesina Fagbenro-Byron of the Kowa Party (KP), Chike Ukaegbu of the Advanced Allied Party (AAP), Hamza Al-Mustapha of the People's Party of Nigeria (PPN), Obadiah Mailafia of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), and many more.
79 candidates will contest in the election, the highest number ever in Nigeria's electoral history.