I Wrongly Identified My Flight Seat Number, Says Soyinka

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Wole Soyinka

Bayo Akinloye

Playwright and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka Saturday broker his silence on the recent aircraft seat controversy which has gone viral on social media, saying he did not deliberately take another passenger’s seat while on a flight.

He stated this in a statement in the wake of media frenzy about how a much younger co-passenger insisted that the Octogenarian vacate the window seat he had mistakenly taken.

Soyinka indicated that he would not be tempted to say or do anything regarding the incident, thus admitting his error in the matter.

He said, “Those who permit themselves to be persuaded, even for one second that I, Wole Soyinka, having wrongly identified a seat number like millions of travellers all the time, and all over the world would then attempt to consolidate the error in any form, through act, word, or gesture, qualify to be the first beneficiaries of this vastly improved humanitarian policy.”

Prefacing his view on the matter, the literary icon pointed out that Nigerian airlines would have raised more money for charity if they had been more creative.

While admitting that he did not know how much airlines succeed in raising for their charity drives through the envelopes they distribute to passengers to make donations for charity purpose, he pointed out that the airlines could raise more money.

He said, “What I am convinced of is that they would generate a hundred times more if they were more creative. For instance, they could impose a fine on passengers who take the wrong seat on boarding, even for a second.

“One can only rejoice in the thought of such benefits to humanity in its efforts to eradicate all kinds of diseases, especially malnutrition, and ensure the supply of nutrients that prevent the premature onset of brain impairment.”

During the week, the story of Soyinka being asked to get up from a seat by a younger co-passenger had gone viral.

The incident was reported by businessman and billionaire, Tonye Cole who shared his experience on his Instagram page.

Cole, the co-founder and former group executive director of Sahara Group and Energy, had narrated, “I met one of the greatest Nigerians walking on earth and as with other times, he was genteel, witty, forthright and humble. My smile gives me away as he permitted the picture whereas he would have preferred to get back to his newspapers.”

Writing further on Instagram, he said: “Then we boarded the flight and after assisting him with his bags, he took the window seat and promptly started reading again.

“A few minutes later, this young man, baseball cap, t-shirt to show his muscled chest and tattooed biceps boards the plane and tells prof he is on his seat (which he was).

“Those of us including the cabin crew tried to reason with bobo fine to let the old man be but the chap refused. He insisted prof should vacate his window seat, which the old man quietly did for his original aisle seat next to him.”

Cole, however, said, “I couldn’t understand how we got to this point where we no longer have respect for elders, even if we are so ignorant of the great global personalities. Is it too much to ask that an elderly man be allowed to remain in a seat allotted to you in the same business class cabin and the same row? Na wa o.”