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.


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“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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