Nigerian poet and Nobel laureate Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka said his Democratic Front for a People’s Federation (DFPF) party will give young people a platform to actively participate in Nigeria’s democratic process.
“Wole” Soyinka said the DFPF is also considering negotiating with other opposition political parties aimed at forming a coalition ahead of Nigeria’s general elections next year.
“It’s pure coincidence that we had this first convention. It’s actually not a new party. This has been there, but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) refused to register it. And finally, we went to court and got a judgment sometime early this year. And, it’s just a good time to have a convention. And so, all I can tell you is this party is, as I expressed at the convention, a party for youth.”
He also said the party welcomes those who have no “congenial platform to which they feel they can belong.”
At the DFPF convention over the weekend, Soyinka told participants he does not intend to be a presidential candidate for the DFPF in next year’s vote despite being elected as chairman of the party.
He also stressed the need to root out corruption emphasizing that his party will be at the forefront of the “watchdogs for democracy.”
Soyinka said a recent court ruling paved the way for leaders of the DFPF to officially register and launch the opposition party.
“This party has been in existence, in fact, since 2002 and our manifesto is very, very elaborate and is on the website. So, it’s really a task for the young generation whom we hope we are leaving behind to carry on the task we’ve been engaged in all our lives.”
He also said that the DFPF will continue negotiating with other groups with the aim of collaborating with some of the “smaller” progressive parties.
Nigeria’s electoral body has requested the scheduled 22nd January presidential election be postponed. The INEC said it needed the delay to adequately prepare a complete and transparent voter register list to be used for the elections.
Soyinka said Attahiru Jega, Nigeria’s new electoral commission chief, made the right decision to ask for a postponement of the elections.
“I’m very glad that Jega, chairman of the commission, asked for more time because he was about to place himself in a position of a miracle worker if he had gone ahead with the original timetable. With the extension, I’m now expecting a very thorough job from him. I know him. He is a different cut from cloth from the former so-called independent commissioner, who was a total disaster. He set us back centuries, not just decades.”