Professor Wole Soyinka
By Yemi Adebowale
Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka Friday reacted angrily to claims by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday that the protest in Lagos early this year against fuel subsidy removal was sponsored, saying that he and the protesters have been "maligned and insulted by such reductionist reasoning."
The President had during the 52nd Independence anniversary lecture in Abuja pointed fingers at an unnamed class of people for allegedly sponsoring the Occupy Nigeria group, which was behind the subsidy removal mass protests. He added that the protest was not a true reflection of the position of the masses "but that of those behind them."
But Soyinka in a statement titled, "Not Again Jonathan" said: " The most generous response that can be given to President Jonathan’s recent statement on the people’s fuel subsidy protest is that he is suffering from a bad conscience. The worst - which I fear is closer to the truth – is that he is lamentably alienated from the true pulse of the nation, thanks perhaps to the poor, eager-to-please quality of his analysts, those who are supposed to provide him an accurate feel of the public mood.
"Since I have had the opportunity to contest this perception of the protest with him directly, it is clear what kind of interpretative diet he prefers. The nation needs all the luck it can get."
Soyinka said Jonathan’s pronouncements on Tuesday truly boggle his mind: "What is this obsession with bottled water, comedians and musical artists? Must demonstrators drink water from the gutter? Is protest no longer viable when sympathizers cater to their needs, supply decent water and food rations"?