Wole Soyinka Likens Pres. Jonathan to King Nebuchadnezzar, Presidency Claps Back


Wole Soyinka, renowned Nobel Laureate expressed his displeasure about what he described as “President Goodluck Jonathan‘s reign of impunity.” He likened the president to biblical character King Nebuchadnezzar.

Speaking at a press conference in Lagos themed “King Nebuchadnezzar – The Reign of Impunity,” Soyinka emphasized that the battle line has been drawn and that Nigerians must decide whether or not to continue submitting to the current way of governance. He also described the recent House of Representatives pandemonium incident as an “unambiguous” declaration of war against the people.

Read excerpts from his speech:

“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….

We, the citizens, are beginning to feel the heat. We wake up each morning to a sensation that we have been cast into the furnace together with those who at least committed the crime of dissent or criticism…

The praetorian guards have been let loose – to teach the rabble their place…

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.

Nothing is more unworthy of leadership than to degrade a system by which one attains fulfillment, 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…

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…”

Special Assistant to President Jonathan on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, responded to Soyinka, stating that his in alliance with the opposition party had clouded his judgement:

“It is quite saddening to note that Prof Wole had become so close to the opposition party so much that he has stopped giving appreciable and unbiased contribution to national topics. Our eminent professor 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 Jonathan prides itself as the most liberal, keeping faith with adherence to rule of law and tolerance,” he said

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