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2023: We’ve No Preferred Candidate – Seadogs Clarify Gyration Video

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August 09, (THEWILL) – The National Association of Seadogs (NAS), also known as Pyrates Confraternity, has restated its non-partisan position ahead of the 2023 general elections, emphasising that the group has no preferred candidate.

The Association made the clarification at a media briefing held late Monday, by its Cap’n, Abiola Owoaje.

THEWILL earlier reported that a one-minute video showing some purported members of the Pyrates Confraternity, had gone viral on Social media.

In the video, the members dressed in red and white attire, danced and chanted: “Hand dey shake, leg dey shake, baba wey no well he dey shout Emi Lokan”, roughly translated to mean “With an unstable hand and leg, a man with a frail health is sounding off that it’s his turn to be Nigeria’s president.’’

In his reaction on Monday, renowned godfather of the group, Noble laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, condemned the song, purportedly mocking the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Soyinka, who along with two others (including Emeritus professor Awe) founded the group at the then University College, Ibadan, had said in a statement, that “Since the whole world knows of my connection with that fraternity, it is essential that I state in clear, unambiguous terms that I am not involved in that public performance, nor in any way associated with the sentiments expressed in the songs.

“Like any other civic group, the Pyrates Confraternity is entitled to its freedom of expression, individually or collectively. So also, is Wole Soyinka in his own person. I do not interfere in, nor do I attempt to dictate the partisan political choices of the Confraternity.

“I remain unaware that the association ever engages in a collective statement of sponsorship or repudiation of any candidate. This is clearly a new and bizarre development, fraught with unpredictable consequences.

“In addition, let me make the following cultural affirmation. I have listened to the lyrics of the chant intently and I am frankly appalled. I find it distasteful. I belong to a culture where we do not mock physical afflictions or disabilities. Very much the contrary. The Yoruba religion indeed designate a deity, Obatala, as the divine protector of the afflicted, no matter the nature of such affliction. This sensibility is engrained in us from childhood and remains with us all our lives. It operates on the principle of mortal frailty to which all humanity remains vulnerable.”

However, in his response on Monday evening, Owoaje explained that quite contrary to the manner in which certain aspects of the video are being portrayed, no aspect of the procession or the event itself was political.

Rather, he said, it was the typical climax of its annual general meeting, adding that at no time in the history of the organisation has this event; or indeed any of its events had any slanted political leanings.

The NAS Cap’n stressed that the Pyrates Confraternity does not mock or discriminate against the physical condition of any person. ”Never. It is an unfair characterisation and offends everything that we stand for.

“Indeed, this would cause offence to even our own members that are also, unfortunately, afflicted and this would never be condoned.”

Owoaje, emphasised that, as an organisation, it has never had a preferred candidate in any political elections, including the upcoming 2023 general elections.

He stated that NAS have members who belong to different political parties and are absolutely free to support any candidate of their choice.

”For the avoidance of doubt, between August 4 and August 6 2022, the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) was in Ikeja, Lagos, for our 46th Annual General Meeting. This event was attended by over 2,000 of our members who came to Lagos from all over the world.

“As part of the activities, we were at the Isheri Primary Health Centre on Thursday, 4th August, where we provided free medical services to the Isheri Community.

“Over 300 people were assisted with various forms of medical treatment. We were also at the Police Hospital, Area F, Ikeja, where we donated substantial quantities of PPEs and other medical supplies.

“These were part of our NAS Medical Mission, which was founded in 2012. In the 11 years since then, we have organised over 50 free medical missions that has made a difference to many disadvantaged communities across Nigeria.

“Part of the annual general meeting was the review of all our advocacy, humanitarian and operational activities for the year.

“This, then, as usual, culminated in a celebratory procession. An aspect of this yearly process that we have undertaken for the last 46 years.

“In our view, it proceeded without event, until this extremely limited video made this appearance”, he said.

Owoaje argued that it is most unfortunate that political capital is being made of this with interpretations that are totally at variance with the philosophy of the Pyrates Confraternity.

”Unequivocally, we condemn this in very strong terms”, he said.

Owoaje disclosed that the group understands that political merchants desperately seeking media mileage are all over the place misinforming and twisting events to suit their political agenda.

As an organisation in tune with disadvantaged and voiceless people, Owoaje said it was committed to the enthronement of a just society, in which no one is discriminated against based on tribe, religion, gender or disability.

”We are against conventions that are moribund. We have always stood for humanistic ideals, comradeship and chivalry. Nothing that has happened can and will change that posture.

“We are determined to continue to use our social programmes, intellectual platforms and our compelling songs to advocate for good governance and accountability”, he added.