Soyinka cautions Jonathan on executive impunity in Rivers
Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, says mounting impunity is sliding the country in the direction of danger and called for an urgent halt before matters get out of hand.
Without pointedly mentioning names, Mr. Soyinka identified three institutions responsible for this gathering dark clouds: federal might, the executive, and the police, a polite way of piling the blame on the desk of the presidency.
Professor Soyinka, in a statement Monday morning, blamed what he called the connivance of federal might, and the abandonment of all moral scruples in executive disposition for this darkening national mood, urging: “responsible governance must accept that it is an urgent duty to diminish, not increase them.”
It is the second time in three months that the nobel laureate will be sounding warning of a progression to a state of impunity in the county. Last March, when President Goodluck Jonathan gave a controversial pardon to the ex-convict and former governor in Bayelsa State, Mr. D.S.P. Alamieyesiegha, Mr. Soyinka retorted: “What is going on right now gives the picture of a government that is floundering and … It amounts to encouragement of corruption” he told journalists in Lagos.
As was the case in Anambra State under the Obasanjo administration, and the case in Ogun State under the administration of Governor Gbenga Daniel, Mr. Soyinka said, those “hideous travesty” were enabled “by the abusive use of the police.”
The Anambra crisis during the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo saw the abduction of the then Anambra State Governor, Chris Ngige, by police officers led by an Assistant Inspector General of Police.
With the tacit connivance of the presidency, an alleged godfather of Anambra politics, Chris Uba, a brother to present Senator Andy Uba, ran the state aground making it almost ungovernable for Mr. Ngige. President Obasanjo had, in a letter written to the then Peoples Democratic Party National Chairman, Audu Ogbeh, said that both men confessed to him privately that Mr. Uba helped Mr. Ngige rig the Anambra governorship election.
The crisis was one of the reasons late literary giant, Chinua Achebe, who is from Anambra State, rejected a national honour, citing the illegality and impropriety of the presidency’s actions.
Mr. Soyinka seems to be issuing a similar warning.
“Before the irretrievable point of escalation is reached, we have a duty to sound a collective alarm, even without the lessons of past violations of constitutional rights and apportionments of elected representatives of the people, and their consequences,” Mr. Soyinka, a national hero and strong critic of power excesses, stated in his statement.
Mr. Soyinka said if democracy will survive in the country, the Jonathan administration should look in the direction of the current escalation in federally inspired attack in Rivers State to calm the nerves of the police.
The Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly had last week, alleged of a plan by the federal government to impose a state of emergency in the state. The Speaker cited the invasion of a locaI government secretariat in Rivers by the police led by the state police commissioner without the state government being aware, as a commencement of the plan.
The crisis in Rivers has been linked to an ongoing clash between the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and President Goodluck Jonathan over several issues including the 2015 presidential election.
Mr. Soyinka has now warned the president not use executive impunity in Rivers.
“There is an opportunity in Rivers state to break this spiraling culture of executive impunity-manifested in both subtle and crude ways – that is fast becoming the norm in a post-military dispensation that fitfully aspires to be called a democracy,” Mr. Soyinka said.
He added: “Even a child in this nation knows that the police derives its enabling and operational authority from the dictates of the Centre, so there can be no disguising whose will is being executed wherever democratic norms are flouted and the people’s rights ground to mush under dictatorial heels.”