Jonathan ignorant of impending national implosion – Soyinka
NOBEL Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has reached deep into his bag of literary symbolism to portray President Goodluck Jonathan as a grotesque leader who plays the ostrich while the country is burning.
Soyinka, whose capacity for strong and deep words is fabled, said that various responses of President Goodluck Jonathan to the state of the nation are indications that the President is alienated from the imminent doom the current happenings in the country portend.
The bard also dissed the United States for its insensitivity to grave dimensions of the Boko Haram menance in the country. He asked stop giving excuses over its refusal to sell cobra helicopters to Nigeria, stating that the excuses are baseless.
Soyinka spoke at a media briefing in Lagos on Tuesday. He titled his speech, King Nebuchadnezzar—The Reign of Impunity.
Soyinka lamented that governance had degenerated to a level where any individual on account of his uniform can stop an elected representative of a people from going about his legitimate duties.
He said, “The people must decide whether to submit or to resist. We may be no count plebeians in the sight of the new born patricians of Aso Rock and their apologist but must we revert to the Abacharian status of glorified slaves? Of course it is up to any people to decide.
“The praetorian guards have been let loose to teach the rabble their place. The recent choice of a new leader for the guard was clearly no accident, and this hitherto enforcer has wasted no time in inaugurating a season of brutish power. When a people’s elected emissaries are disenfranchised, cast out like vagrants and resort to scaling fences to engage in their designated functions, the people get the message.
“The latest action of the supposed guardians of the law against the nation’s law givers is an unambiguous declaration of war on the people.
What sticks to this policeman is worse than shame, it is infamy. Such a public servant deserves to be publicly pilloried, tried and meted a punishment that is appropriate to treasonable acts. To demand less is to reduce ourselves below the status of free citizens of a free nation.
“For this latest outrage, one in an escalating series of impunity , the buck stops yet again at the presidency, and that incumbent, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, continues to surprise us in ways that a very few could have conjectured. Peaking at his own personalised example where he sets the law of simple arithmetic on its head. I refer to the split in Governors’ Forum and his formal recognition of the minority will in a straightforward peer election, democracy has been rendered meaningless where it should be most fervently exemplified.”
“Nothing is more unworthy of leadership than to degrade a system by which one attains fulfilment, and this is what the nation has witnessed time and time again in various parts of the nation. The recent affront against the legislative chamber being only the most blatant and unconscionable. We know of course that this is not the first of its kind in the nation’s history, but precedents are not binding. Each leader selects his or her own model for emulation or avoidance and that choice is certain indication of the true nature of such a leader. And a clue to the kind of conduct that a people can expect of him. It is a warning .
His choices for the occupancy of crucial public positions such as the protective arm of the nation constitutes an even more immediate and constant public alert. The signals are ominous-faery beyond 2015.
“These, to state the obvious are not ordinary times. The menace of Boko Haram hangs over the corporate entity called a nation and over every individual, citizen or mere bird of passage. The cliché heating up the polity may grate the ear drums with its banality but I think that we have a right to demand of a leader not to stoke up the furnace in which events have cast its citizens. Every day records new violation of our humanity. The atrocious targeting of the great mosque of Kano has rendered any lingering doubt of impending national imposition an invitation for collective suicide, preferably through piecemeal dismemberment.
The shambles that punctuated a presidential campaign visit at the Obafemi Awolowo University a few days ago merely underline the total alienation of President Jonathan from the reality that has engulfed the nation. Yes, political campaigns are part and parcel of the bloodline of the democratic process. We know they never stop. However. That a national leader should go campaigning on the platform of ethnic support at a time when priorities dictate a united national engagement for survival, is a grotesque undertaking that was tragically rebuked in the massacre of worshippers and desecration of the Kano Mosques, almost simultaneously with the alienated gathering of selected crowned heads and journeymen at the OAU campus, a macabre echo of Balthazar’s feast.
I shall not insist that the biblical figure of Nebuchadnezzar is uniquely apt for the pivotal figure of the democratic history in the making at this moment. For one thing, Nebu was a nation builder and a warrior. One could argue even more convincingly for the figure of Balthazar, his successor, or indeed Emperor Nero as reference point. You all remember him – the emperor who took to fiddling while Rome was burning.
“However you should easily recall why I opted for King Nebu – the figure that currently sits on the top of our political pile himself evoked it, albeit in a context that virtuously disclaimed any similarities, even tendencies. Perhaps he meant it at the time when he claimed: ‘I am no Nebuchadnezzar.’ Perhaps not. One judges leaders on acts however, not pronouncements, which are often as reliable as electoral promises.”
I want to appeal to the Americans to please stop laughing at us. They should stop ridiculing this nation. The government claimed that it asked for Cobra Helicopters. The government of Jonathan asked for little weapons to destroy the enemies. We are in a situation of destroy or to be destroyed. They asked for the weapons even for self defence, I think the Americans should not boast of what they have done to supply assistance to vulnerable affected households. All are laudable and no body is in disagreement with them. These are necessities. But this is not the response I expect to the situation of war.
“This nation is at war. And this nation is asking for certain forms of assistance. Please United States of America, could you please overlook the arithmetical deficiency of governance and stop giving an excuse to this government for failing to protect us. Please just say that you will not supply arms to Nigeria and leave it at that. Don’t say that you sent other things, that is not the issue at this critical time in Nigeria.”