I’m an unapologetic Soyinka acolyte and having read his latest intervention in national affairs by way of his criticism of President Jonathan, I can say without fear or favour that by and large, I agree with his sentiments. I do this, because I strongly believe every citizen must strive to grow our democracy, rather than encourage its diminution. I do this, because I’m not an unrestrained supporter of President Jonathan neither am I a sycophant. While I’m no fan of some of the acts and utterances of some members of the opposition of late, I do not think some of the responses of the executive and its law enforcement arm have been wise or heartening. Two wrongs have never made a right and as always, the buck stops at the President’s desk. So,yeah, Soyinka is right to speak his mind and express the sentiments shared by a lot of us.
I am also not a fan of Doyin Okupe’s School of Presidential Defence. His contributions have been underwhelming, to say the least. When your response is to say the critic is playing the ostrich for not criticizing others who’ve purportedly engaged in the same impunity, then that is pathetic. I mean, should Rotimi Amaechi be setting examples for President Jonathan? It’s a pity when people whose official work it is to do damage control make themselves and their principal collectively a laughing stock in the supposed course of doing their duty. Okupe and his crowd need to know that they do not have to abuse critics of the President and they do not have to respond belligerently to all criticisms.
They would do well to engage with the substantive issues in question in a polite and friendly way, even while countering the views of critics firmly and robustly. Honestly, they are not representing the President very well. They need to do some introspection and recalibrate their strategies as the countdown begins to the 2015 elections.
Now, having said the above, what I do not get is the extrapolation being made from the Soyinka criticism of Jonathan by political partisans. For instance, a lot of APC supporters are all over the place brandishing the Nebuchadnezzarization of President Goodluck Jonathan by Professor Wole Soyinka as a vote for the APC or one against the PDP and the President in the forthcoming election.
Really? Okay, here is a simple test. Soyinka, in the course of his national interventions, had reasons to criticize some of those angling for the flag of the APC as presidential candidate in the past. Most notably, he’d criticized General Muhammadu Buhari. Now, here’s the question: If Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan are on the ballot today in the presidential election, knowing what we know about Soyinka and his views of both, who would he vote for to be President in the next four years? Here, we should note there’s no room for saying he would abstain. He can’t, because Nigerians are not going to abstain. They will have to make a choice ultimately and that choice will sit as President in the next four years. They will do so, even if they have to clip their noses to make that choice! So, Professor Soyinka, who would be your choice for President come 2015 if the choice comes down to between General Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan? Yes, you might make this choice grudgingly, but who is it? Fellow Nigerians, who do you think Professor Soyinka’s choice would be?
Of course, I’m very much aware that Buhari is not yet the APC candidate, but he is the frontrunner and the one seeming likely to be the flag-bearer. Anyone who disagrees with this can choose his/her candidate in the APC field, put him side by side with Jonathan and ask this same question. Who would Soyinka vote for if such a candidate of the APC is on the ballot with Jonathan? That is the only relevant question in all this.