Presidency replies Soyinka, says he’s ‘playing the ostrich’

Prof Wole Soyinka

The presidency has responded to Monday’s rebuke by Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, who accused President Goodluck Jonathan of foisting a “reign of impunity” on Nigeria and allowing public officials to flout the law.

Mr. Soyinka’s comments amounted to “playing the ostrich”, a presidential spokesperson said Tuesday.

Mr. Soyinka had likened Mr. Jonathan to the biblical King Nebuchadnezzar, saying the president has continually shocked Nigerians with his decisions.

His comments came after police blockaded the National Assembly in an attempt to stop the speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, from having access.

The government says Mr. Tambuwal cannot keep his seat after his recent defection from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to All Progressives Congress, APC.

“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…,” Mr. Soyinka said.

“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,” the Nobel laureate added, criticising the appointment of the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba.

In a response Tuesday, the presidency accused Mr. Soyinka of “playing the Ostrich”, by criticizing the president at the same time failing to condemn acts of impunity in the states.

In a text message to State House Correspondents in Abuja, Tuesday, a spokesperson to the president, Doyin Okupe, said the Jonathan administration prides itself as the most liberal as it adheres to rule of law and tolerance.

“Soyinka is playing the ostrich as he has deliberately ignored people who are actually engaged in impunity,” Mr. Okupe said.

“For instance, Soyinka had failed to reprimand Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers who is the king of impunity.

“Our eminent professor also sadly plays the ostrich as he failed to reprimand Amaechi who is the national champion of impunity and official recklessness.”

In his earlier statement, Mr. Soyinka had also heaped praises on the House of Representatives members, some of who scaled the gate of the National Assembly, weeks ago, to gain entrance into the complex.

“Legislators are not elected for their athletic prowess, and such endeavours should not be demanded of them,” Mr. Soyinka said.

“There are even presidents and prime ministers who were elected despite physical handicaps. The brain is where it matters, the vision and commitment to service.”

Mr. Soyinka said by scaling the National Assembly gate, the legislators had been made to perform beyond their call of duty.

“I don’t understand why some media have described their action as a show of shame – this is a very careless, easily misapplied designation. The act of scaling gates and walls to fulfil their duty to the people must be set down as their finest hour. They must be applauded, not derided,” he said.

“If shame belongs anywhere, it belongs to the Inspector General of Police and his slavish adherence to conspiratorial, illegal, and unconstitutional instructions – to undermine a democratic structure, and one – to make matters worse – convoked in response to an emergency of dire public concern.”


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  • Benedict

    Very drab response!!! And needless too. We condemn the action of the Police and the government that supports that action. Deal with the issue and stop pointing fingers! Abi na Amaechi send police to throw teargas at the speaker or lock the gate???

    • Mique3

      If we must ask all the questions, let’s start by asking how a party can have the seat of SPEAKER AND MINORITY LEADER in the same house. Think am.

  • Nawafordem


    “The act of scaling gates and walls”, said Wole Soyinka, is the legislators’ ..“finest hour”.
    Of course not! The legislators were not scaling gates to do any duty of the people – no!
    They were scaling walls to burn the letters with the spirit of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
    That is infamous conduct, anywhere in the world, and should be declared very wrong as such.

    Aminu Tambuwal announced he’s defected from PDP to APC but wants to remain the House Speaker.
    The APC will, in effect, hold the incongruous House position of Minority Leader of the House alongside.
    It is to foster this un-constitutional contradiction that these legislators scaled legislative walls and gates.
    Not for anything ennobling. Thinking Nigerians must separate common sense from crass partisanship.

    This stand-alone argument is sufficiently eked out (by its own facts) and has nothing to do with Jonathan.
    It is quite possible to write off President Jonathan as a bane on other grounds, but surely not on this one.
    President Jonathan is totally irrelevant to the self-contained facts of this legislators’ treasonous infamy.
    I expect Professor Wole Soyinka to raise the bar of public discourse and not lower it as badly again.

    • Leslie

      Thinking Nigerians must separate common sense from crass partisanship. Your words.So in your own world what happened at the NASS was right abi.You and your Jonathan are the biggest fools in existence presently.
      What happened to separation of powers?What is the judiciary there for?What kind of advisers does he have.JESUS!Your president is a goat and I’ll tell you why.
      You make a mistake,it can be overlooked. The second time no problem but hmm!The third time you get fired. Your president has messed up like 5billion times.It’s not just me.The whole world sees him as a goat.Without brains. And you call it common sense knowing fully well he has no sense at all.Obviously you don’t have also so your comment isn’t surprising.

      • Mique3

        Once you see a man insulting others instead of making logical arguments, you know who the cap of idiosy fits.

        • Leslie

          Tell that to yourself and your president.Mine are mere words which have no effect while his are actions.Which speaks a lot louder?

  • Charles

    You have degraded your self to an APC laureate

  • concerned9ja

    Okupe’s response is symptomatic of the quality of rubbish Jonathan always picked for offices. Instead of defending his boss, Okupe only confirmed Soyinka’s criticisms. This clueless, special assistant should be sacked before the big Saul is sacked finally in February. Enough is enough.

  • Edward Osadebay

    This government is so spineless, it is ridiculous instead responding to all the facts contained in the good Prof’s statement to the press, diarrhoea mouth Doyin Okupe is making reference to Gov Amaechi. When will these fools learn to respectfully react to issues. You left the messenger and start attacking another person. When will Okupe go home and contest for something in his life, boi boi work no dey tire am.

  • Ashibogu

    What is Uche Ekwunife still doing in the House of Reps.? The problem of Nigeria is very clear. It is selective integrity. Period!

  • Okey

    His friend, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State shut down the State courts since 9 months ago. Practicing lawyers and their families have been passing through horrible times since then. I have just dispatched a token to a lawyer friend of mine to enable him feed his family. What impunity, what rascality can surpass that ? Yet this makes no sense to Prof. Soyinka.

    Prof. Soyinka seem to have lost touch with reality. Ealier, Soyinka was was brought to Ekiti in a private jet. In the course of that jolly-wel,l merry-go-round, Soyinka said that Fayemi’s loss at the polls was a “mystery” to him. And I ask, why won’t it be a mystery since Soyinka overflew the striking Ekiti civil servants who were still being 5 months of their salaries at the time ? Perhaps, if his son was not an a Commissioner in an APC govt but one of those Ekiti civil servants, Fayemi’s electoral loss would have become real to Soyinka. Soyinka should endeavour be in touch with reality, otherwise, he won’t escape the perception of being overtly deliberately politically biased.

  • Preco01

    “There are even presidents and prime ministers who were elected despite physical handicaps. The brain is where it matters, the vision and commitment to service.” – Doyin Okupe

  • Mekasyno

    I hope to see an appropriate responce from govt. It’s rather unfortunate & regretable that soyinka has suddenly descended to the brazen abyss of selective condemnation & partisanship. While he turns blind eyes to the brazen impunity & atrocious acts by the opposition apc elements; he gloatly, unashamedly & mischievously raises his hitherto shut eyes at the president.
    However, i’m not surprised at his emotional, hypocritical & prejudiced out-burst as his romance wit the apc has never bn hidden. His infantile out-burst is only made for the ill-informed & the gullible.

  • Ejovwoke

    Wole Soyinka should be called to order

  • Olubunmi Jegede

    Soyinka don craze. He needs help and serious prayers or sacrifice

  • emmanuel

    Wole Soyinka is a hypocrite!

    He is a chop and clean mouth master. Nigerians did not realise his true identity on time.

    He chops from morally bankrupt fellows and speak for them

  • King Carlos

    Okupe is a phoool for this response. But something is not clear to me… shey Jonathan doesn’t read what Okupe says to the press? Abi na Patience Jonathan dey sign off the statements. Because this response is drab, ridiculous and stooopid. Soyinka said president is the master of impunity, okupe said “shebI Ameachi sef dey do am”. So Ameachi is now on the same level with jona? Okupe has made Ameachi a case study in an unintelligent manner. It’s like Jonathan is so clueless to the point that he doesn’t even have the ability to appoint brilliant people to work with him. He only went for ‘people of like minds’.