The internet was abuzz on Monday after Tonye Cole, billionaire politician, shared his flight experience on how Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, was asked to vacate a seat by a passenger onboard.
Cole, the co-founder and former group executive director of Sahara Group and Energy, had taken to his Instagram page to narrate how a young passenger insisted that the foremost playwright must leave the window seat assigned to him.
This was despite pleas from him and the cabin crew.
“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,” he wrote.
“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’s 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.
“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.”
The plane incident has become a hotly debated topic on social media platforms. It has also stirred outrage and condemnation from all quarters.
While some users were of the opinion that “a younger Soyinka” would have done the same if roles were swapped, others dragged the young man to the mud for being so “utterly disrespectful”.
The politician, who ran for the office of governor of Rivers until the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disqualified the All Progressives Congress (APC), his party, was also not spared in the backlash.
“Any diligent reader of Wole Soyinka will know that he would have insisted on his seat as a young man. Yes, our culture demands respect for elders. But undue entitlement by senior citizens, especially when the premise is wrong, should always be resisted. That’s why we are here,” a Twitter user said.
“Tonye Cole tries to paint an image in our heads with the way he described the young man so as to convince us that the guy is wrong -prof Wole did the right thing by not resisting -young man was not wrong for asking for his seat -shame on you Tonye and all who make a big deal,” another user said.
-Tonye Cole tries to paint an image in our heads with the way he described the young Man so as to convince us that the guy is wrong
-prof wole did the right thing by not resisting
-young man was not wrong for asking for his seat
-shame on you Tonye and all who make a big deal pic.twitter.com/DzNHRnsieV
— Jimmy Proton 𓅓 (@Drizx_) June 24, 2019
Any diligent reader of Wole Soyinka will know that he would have insisted on his seat as a young man.
Yes, our culture demands respect for elders. But undue entitlement by senior citizens, especially when the premise is wrong, should always be resisted. That's why we are here.
— Ayò-Bánkólé Akíntújoyè (@AyoBankole) June 24, 2019
I really think Wole Soyinka might just have been cheekily hoping the person in the seat wouldn’t turn up. The caption says he quietly moved. The problem is the Tony guy who posted it. Embarrassing.
— Fisayo Longe (@FisayoLonge) June 24, 2019
My own is: why didn't Oga Tonye give up his own seat for Prof Wole Soyinka since he was so invested in respecting the elderly (because even the Prof quietly moved when asked).
Sadly, a lot of elderly Nigerians are entitled bullies who don't understand the reciprocity of respect
— 'Deoye 🥷 (@Crosseyednerd) June 24, 2019
Many of the guys supporting that guy here will easily give up their seat for Wole Soyinka. It's his rightful seat no doubt but the plane won't crash if he doesn't seat there, the same goes to Wole Soyinka. Home training won't even allow me argue with him sha.
— Wolf of Mainstreet 🐺 (@kaladze__) June 24, 2019
Even people that would fight for their allocated seats on God Is Good Motors are bashing the poor guy.
The guy did the right thing jhoor.
Baseball cap 😂😂😂
I'd gladly do the same if I were him.
Prof. Wole Soyinka, e gbe gbogbo body yin kuro ni seat mi ffs
— Dolapo AKINKUNLE 🇳🇬 (@KunleScott) June 24, 2019
Older Nigerians (especially we the Yorubas) seem pissed about this Wole Soyinka issue. It's funny because there's probably all this outburst because it is Wole Soyinka. Someone less prominent and I doubt we'll be having this conversation.
— GbogboAde. D🔰 (@GbxgbxAde) June 24, 2019
Let the professor speak for himself!
You are tearing shirt over another man's issue. Yet, you lots would do the same on a queue, inside Danfo etc.
Prof. Wole Soyinka has proven himself refined unlike most Nigerians that would argue their way out of such situation.
— M. O. Bamidele (@Femi_Uncensored) June 24, 2019
Just what if Wole Soyinka took that seat because he was told upon boarding that free seating was allowed and not because he didn’t expect that anyone would ask him to leave it because of his respectable status? Because the only person we know cried about respect was the Cole man
— Fa Mulan (@oh_ImSoph) June 24, 2019