FROM the mysterious Amasuomo creek in Burutu Local Government I have canoed into the River Niger. This is prompted by two developments – the unceasing acidic verbal minimization of President Goodluck Jonathan by Professor Wole Soyinka and the desecration of Soyinka’s personality by John Udumebraye. My responses to both attacks are that of indignation, bewilderment, puzzlement and surprise (Soyinka’s article “under the sign of an iconoclast”) at a time such as this.
It would be a laughable intellectual sophistry to create a discourse devoted to castigation and denial of the achievements of President Jonathan at this time of Nigerian history. From education, road infrastructure, environmental management, power, industrial revolution policy, agriculture, airport, Railways revolution, transport, and the overall performance of the economy, President Jonathan has visibly demonstrated capability and commitment to the development of the Nigerian project.
The facts of his unwavering pursuit of the transformation agenda are open to appropriation from TAM and other advocacy groups. Any healthy critic of the president would have journeyed to the parts of the country where the transformation projects are located either to prove or disprove the transformation claims. Criticism of President Jonathan devoid of this approach is better dismissed as a prejudicial, ego-boosting and self-serving agenda bound to harm Nigeria in her search towards a new Nigeria.
When unguarded, uncomplimentary comments are made against the visible transformation drive of President Jonathan , the Chibok girls saga and insurgency in general, the interventionist role of the police in the construction of security barricade against Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal saga based on the intelligence of impending invasion of the National Assembly by thugs, tendentious self-serving anti-progress agenda would be spotted as the likely inspirational source of such action. Stuck to this destructive self-serving dance of distraction, to cast President Jonathan as a president worse than king Nebuchadnezzar betrays a failing mind perpetually conditioned and indoctrinated to demonise the President no matter the radius of developmental illumination daily beamed out by him. This is a sheer dramatization of personalized war of antagonism and hatred for Jonathan.
For Soyinka to claim the metaphorisation of President Jonathan using Nebuchadnezzar, he has fallen from the hallowed height hitherto occupied. The activities of Bola Tinubu, Governor Rotimi Amaechi who threatened to form a parallel government even before the conduct of the 2015 elections, and many other APC stalwarts notorious for verbal terrorism merit some degree of healthy critical commentary but on these Soyinka has been silence. This uncharacteristic silence has the hallmarks of degeneration and regression into a selective critic. Can Soyinka’s recent biblical metaphorisation of President Jonathan be viewed as a metamorphosis of Soyinka into an implacable selective critic of the President?
As a writer, I am sure, Soyinka is only interested in the ironic meaning of Nebuchadnezzar as metaphorically applied to President Jonathan. It could be an uncanny case of the use of individualised Soyinkaised CONCEIT in appreciating Jonathan’s unusual transformation records – because President Jonathan bears no resemblance to Nebuchadnezzar in any form. Then could this be penciled down sympathetically as Soyinka’s rare moment of being overpowered by invasion of superfluous lexemes and metaphors in their stray?
Yes, Soyinka misfired when he cast Jonathan as a president worse than Nebuchadnezzar. John Udumebraye equally misfired when he described Soyinka’s Nobel prize for Literature as a product of his political activism rather than his literary prowess and versatility. This is a demeaning categorization of Soyinka obviously borne out of over-expectation of the man, forgetting that no matter the unfathomable height of Soyinka’s verbal sophistication and literary prowess, he is still essentially a mortal with limitation/shortcomings.
In the life of a man, there are moments of luxuriant growth, surplus upward progression, perfection and excellence as are moments of deficit, verbal recklessness,decomposition, diminishing return, degeneration, recession and regression. No mortal is immune to these existential realities. One area we must unashamedly share collective guilt is over-expectation. We have made Soyinka an angeland expect too much from a mere mortal. For those who are puzzled by Soyinka’s recent selective criticism, the latest in the series of which is the biblical metaphorisation of President Jonathan, see it from the perspective of the arrival of occasional moment of diminishing return in the life of every man. Equally see it from the perspective of man’s occasional predisposition to irrational theorization and irrational praxis.
Soyinka is a genius both as a literary and political activist whose prehensile tentacles are spread to all the genres of literature – poetry, drama, prose – so much so that critics no longer know in which genre he should be rated best. For Udumebraye to verbally pedestrianize Soyinka’s scholarly achievements in trying to counter his recent selective outburst, he has desecrated the oracle of African literature. Soyinka cannot be a scholar and be a scholar at the same time as Udumebraye angrily portrays in the grip of confusion and ambiguity. He is a scholar of international repute and dignity. Soyinka is more sinned against by Udumebraye than President Jonathan by Soyinka.
I do not believe that the Pyrate Confraternity is a cult as nothing reprehensible has ever been associated with it since the beginning of the campaign of denigration and demonization mounted against it. I do not see anything wrong with Soyinka leaving University College, Ibadan for the University of Ife, neither do I see anything wrong with Soyinka’s pursuit of his academic dream at Leeds University, UK. It would appear that the target of Udumebraye is to demonize and desecrate Soyinka’s intellectual shrine just as Soyinka appears ideologically positioned to demonize Jonathan’s transformation philosophy. This is where both moves become irretrievably faulty.
President Jonathan’s development strides are unbeatable just as Soyinka’s intellectual achievements are unrivalled. Henceforth, Soyinka should endeavour to direct his feet down a healthy path.
in his criticism and biblical metaphorisation of President Jonathan just as Udumebraye should be honest in his assessment of Soyinka’s achievements. I wish both Soyinka and Udumebraye could be awakened to their sins by this correctional piece.
Mr Ekanpou Enewaridideke, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Warri, Delta State.