Soyinka flays Jonathan over Rivers state crisis

Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, on Thursday expressed disgust at the unfolding political crisis in Rivers State, lamenting that President Goodluck Jonathan’s continued silence on the matter was a confirmation that he is indeed “privy and supported the illegality going on in the state.”
He said the President would be held culpable if anything untoward happens to the state Governor, Rotimi Amaechi.
Soyinka jointly addressed a press conference on the Rivers crisis with Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, which they entitled, ‘A Presidential Emergency: A People Under Siege!’ at the Freedom Park, Broad Street, Lagos, on Thursday.
Soyinka also took a swipe at Jonathan’s wife, Patience, whom, he said, has been “acting with impunity in a manner not becoming of a lady” and that she was capitalising on the influence of her husband to get away with murder.
Comparing developments in Rivers State to the 12th century England when Thomas Beckett, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by five knights who were loyal to King Henry II of England over the rights and privileges of the church, Soyinka said the President’s silence and indifference have created an enabling environment for his followers who are acting in Rivers State with impunity.
“I read through the papers and I saw that his (Jonathan) spokesmen have been trying to distance him from what is happening in Rivers. That is their job.
“I wish them luck but the President has to understand that the perception upstairs in the world, not merely in the nation, but the outside world, is that he bears a responsibility at the very least for what is happening in Rivers.
“I am insulted by what is going on in Rivers State. We have been through this before. Why is the Presidency boring us again with this? There are serious issues confronting us.
“This is the time the President should be mobilising the entire country for positive things. This is the time the President should worry about how to protect our little children being murdered in their schools.
“We have five legislators who are five fingers of a controlling hand carrying out the will of an absolute monarchy. Are we not moving towards absolute monarchy?
“I am not laying direct culpability on anyone, but I am saying that one can by action or omission establish certain forms of conduct in the minds of one’s followers.
“There are certain ways in which you can convince your followers that they can act with impunity. There are many ways in which you can expose a prey to show that that prey is available for plucking, especially when a certain moral action is required and that moral action is not taken,” Soyinka said.
He also countered the claim by the police that tear gas was not fired into the Rivers State Government House, saying he got a firsthand information that tear gas was directly thrown into the Governor’s Lodge.
“Anyone who says that tear gas was not thrown into Amaechi’s lodge was either ignorant or lying about the development going on in Rivers State.
“When a tear gas is thrown in today, the next one may be a smoke bomb, and in confusion an accident can happen and we get back to the days of the unknown soldier, or in this case maybe more likely unknown policeman.”
While condemning the excesses of Patience Jonathan over her recent trip to Port Harcourt, Soyinka said the First Lady by her actions was getting away with murder with the direct connivance of her husband, adding that Nigeria has had First Ladies in the past with none behaving with impunity like the current one.
“For me, the siege of Port Harcourt for 11 days with full security apparatus indicates that there is something beyond even that Madam herself.
“Be a lady first before being a First Lady. In fact, you cannot be a First Lady without being a lady and that is the only advice I have for her.
“Because that is evidence that she is getting away with murder in this country only because she has the backing of her husband and that she is being used politically.
“When things get to a stage where an unelected person, a mere domestic appendage or partner can seize the control of the police for 11 days and as a result of her presence the Governor of the state cannot even move out, what sort of jungle are we living in?” he asked.
Soyinka also faulted the call for the redeployment of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mbu Joseph Mbu, whom, he said, has become a “political policeman.”
He said Mbu should as a matter of urgency be sacked for violating the code of conduct of the police.
“The Governor has said ‘I want this man out; I am the chief security officer, but no, he is still there’.
“Is anybody surprised then that a teargas could be accidentally thrown into the Governor’s residence?
“In addition, some of Amaechi’s security persons have been removed. This I have checked. I am not saying he is left without any security whatsoever.”

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