By Valentine Obienyem
To understand Mr Peter Obi’s visit to Prof. Wole Soyinka, I shall tell you the story of my encounter with him.
At the height of the exchange between Soyinka and Nigerians, Soyinka requested a debate with Alhaji Datti or his representative. I struck an idea and was delighted with it. I told a few people about my plan to get a man learned in all the technics of debating to take on Soyinka.
Excited like Archimedes, I almost ran to Obi over my idea. After listening to me, Obi said: “Val, I realise the spirit with which you are saying this. Calm down and remain placid. If we were all hot, we would all burn.” I replied: “If we were all cold, Your Excellency, we would all freeze.” In his characteristic moderation, always looking for the golden mean, he said: “No matter the provocation, you are not expected to fight your father; instead, you allow fraternal love to overshadow whatever object of provocation.”
Explaining further, he went empirical: “Val, may God continue to grant the soul of your father eternal rest, but let me ask you, if your father were still alive and made some comments you consider as not palatable, what would you do? In the midst of the confusion, if your father requests a live debate with you to rest the matter finally, would you oblige him?” At this point I was completely disarmed.
The aim of this is for those thinking or wondering what informed his visit to Soyinka, to read and understand the working of his mind. It is not for nothing that those who work closely with him see him as the personification of wisdom.