Some Nigerians on Sunday asked the first lady, Patience Jonathan, to make herself available for a debate with Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
The call came on the heels of the diatribe the First Lady launched against Soyinka in which she described the renowned playwright as an “embarrassment’’ for attributing the crisis rocking Rivers State to her and her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan.
But some Nigerians, who took to Twitter and other social networks to voice their concern over the development, called on a Lagos-based private broadcaster, Channels Television, to organise a debate for the two.
According to them, the TV station’s Sunrise Daily, a news and current affairs programme that features prominent Nigerians, who are experts in their areas of specialisation, will provide a level playing ground for the duo to thrash out the knotty issues they were arguing on.
To actualise their dreams, a cross section of them sent messages in a tweet to the handle of the programme @sunrisedailynow as well as the main official handle of the television station, @Channels_TV on Sunday.
A Twitter user, with the name Abdul Slimzy, tweeting via @abdulslimzy said, “It would be really nice to see Patience Jonathan and Wole Soyinka argue on Channels TV @sunrisedailynow in English Language o.”
An anonymous reader on lindaikeji.blogspot.com said, “Kindly call on Channels TV to organise a debate between Prof. Wole Soyinka and Dame Patience Jonathan. I know we go laugh pass ‘Night of a Thousand Laugh.’’’
Another user of the micro-blogging service with the name, Hig-Wayne Cannon, who uses the handle @dosinclair, said he would be looking forward to the debate on national TV as it would be a clash of the titans. Cannon notes, “You can expect a volcanic grammatical literary of freestyles. What a collabo #Titans.”
However, some users of the micro-blogging service boasted that the wife of the President would come out tops after the debate. One of such users of the social network who beat his chest on this was Yakubu Dogara who tweets via @doyakubu.
He says, “I bet it that Dame Patience will win the debate as it will be unwise for the Prof. (Wole Soyinka) to attend much more utter a word.”
Another Nigerian tweeting via @hobalawon said Soyinka, who clocked 79 on Saturday, should simply steer clear of joining issues with the First Lady and save himself from being on the receiving end of public bashing which he described as “lethal weapon’’ emanating from her.
The social network user noted, “Prof, even at 79, we still need you around.”
Meanwhile, the exchange of diatribe between the duo has divided Nigerians on social networks. While a section of Nigerians argue that the First Lady shouldn’t have descended heavily on Soyinka and that the onslaught was unpresidential, others maintained that Soyinka got what he deserved.
On nairaland.com, a Nigerian with the name, My Time, argued, “I still maintain that Patience Jonathan has no moral justification to attack the professor. Her only portfolio is being the wife of the President. Soyinka has achieved a lot and demands respect. He is one of our national icons and a gift to this nation. He commands more respect outside the shores of this country than she does and can ever get.’’
An anonymous visitor on the blog noted, “I see this current government and her (Patience Jonathan) agenda losing their taste of civility and moral standing. I don’t see any reason why the First Lady should talk to an elderly statesman with such verbal brutality, irrespective of what he (Soyinka) said to her. Really, I think it’s quite unpresidential.’’
However, those who believe that Soyinka deserved Patience Jonathan’s onslaught against him said it was wrong for Soyinka to insult another man’s wife in the first place. They noted that since Soyinka had descended into an arena of conflict, he could not avoid such a treatment.
On lindaikeji.blogspot.com, one Abidoh Jonathan said, “Why exactly are people abusing the First Lady? Prof. Wole Soyinka made a derogatory remark about her, and she reacted with an on-point come back. What is the big deal? If you ask me, I think the Prof stooped too low to comment and link the First Lady to the current crisis rocking Rivers State. He is a renowned Prof. but hello, she too is still the First Lady now and she deserves some respect.”