Professor Wole Soyinka has reacted to the recent invasion of the National Assembly by the Police, saying it was height of reign of impunity under President Goodluck Jonathan.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, Soyinka condemned the November 20 invasion by the police on the order of the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba.
Reading a prepared statement titled “King Nebuchadnezzar – The Reign of Impunity”, Soyinka recalled the split of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and the recognition of the “minority” by President Jonathan.
He also noted that those occupying positions of leadership today are now degrading the system that brought them into such offices.
According to him, “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.
Soyinka spoke further, “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.
“The praetorian guards have been let loose – to teach the rabble their place,” he said.
“The recent choice of a new leader for the guard was clearly no accident, and this hitherto unknown enforcer, one Suleiman Abba, 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.
“However, the choice is always there, and each choice comes at a cost. It is either we pay now, or pay later.
“Peaking at his own personalised example where he set the law of arithmetic on its head – I refer to the split in the 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.
“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 – for and beyond 2015.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency has reacted to Soyinka’s statement likening President Jonathan to Nebuchadnezzar and questioning his democratic credentials.
Speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Okupe, accused him of playing the ostrich.
Okupe said Soyinka failed to criticize Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State who he said was a master of impunity.
His words, “Our eminent Prof also sadly plays the ostrich as he failed to reprimand Governor Amaechi who is the national champion of impunity and official recklessness.
“The administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan prides itself as the most liberal, keeping faith with adherence to rule of law and tolerance.”