Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, has finally reacted to an incident on an airplane where a younger Nigerian traveler reportedly asked him to vacate his seat.
The matter was first shared on social media by former Rivers State APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole.
Mr. Cole sparked a huge debate online after explaining how the yet-to-identified man defied pleas to allow the 84-year-old writer and former professor to keep the seat.
Some Nigerians sympathized with Mr. Soyinka while others defended his seatmate. Others criticized Mr Cole for making an issue of what should pass as a minor event.
The debate continued Tuesday, trending on Twitter for the second day.
It became even more heated after a social media user claimed he was the man at the centre of the incident, and that Mr Soyinka later applauded his decision as they chatted in-flight.
Media entrepreneur, Mo Abudu, has shared a copy of Mr. Soyinka’s email response on Instagram on Tuesday afternoon.
In his response, Mr Soyinka described the incident as a ’very minor thing’ and added that he had ’forgotten all about it.’ He said:
”Someone sent me Patrick Tonye’s comment on the plane incident, and I saw your brief comment. It was a very minor thing and I’d forgotten all about it. However, after reading the boy’s response, I became curious. First, I never exchanged a word with him throughout beyond inviting him to take his allotted seat. Never spoke a word to him after that. Certainly never exchanged contact. So of course, I wonder if it’s the very individual who’s posted this or a total fake.
”The phenomenon of stolen identities takes very strange dimensions and has become a source of worry. I wonder if this is one such. Any way of your finding out. I don’t operate in the social media as you probably recall.’’
Meanwhile, Tosin Odunfa, a TV presenter, who claimed to be the young man who asked Mr Soyinka off the seat during a flight has admitted he lied.
Mr Odunfa, who works for Ms. Abudu’s EbonyTV, made this clarification on his Twitter handle on Tuesday.
He said he was just trying to create a plausible scenario on why the youth must rise up and defend their future from the ageing-patriarchal society that doesn’t know the damage it is doing to their future.
Among other things, Mr Odunfa had claimed that he was a Ph.D holder and a lecturer at the ’University of Mannittawiw’ — a nonexistent school.
Mr Odunfa’s claims were first posted on the Instagram page of Daddy Freeze and on Twitter.
For now the debate continues on Twitter just as the true identity of the man remains unknown.