Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said that former President Goodluck Jonathan was becoming authoritarian while in office.
Soyinka also said that the pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu admitted to him in the UK that he (Ribadu) realised late that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was using him as EFCC boss.
Soyinka also said that the former President also committed what he described alarming errors of governance.
The playwright said he withdrew his support for Jonathan because he was drifting towards “fascism.”
Soyinka in an interview with the current edition of Zero Tolerance magazine, a publication of the EFCC, stated that Jonathan surrounded himself with ”unsavoury characters.”
He stated that it was important for any President or public officer to pick his advisers carefully because of the kind of characters who shielded the former President from certain happenings around hm.
Soyinka explained that he marched alongside others in order to ensure that Jonathan was sworn-in as the acting President in 2010, noting that the action was meant to protect the constitution and not about Jonathan.
He said, “We marched in order to protect the constitution, not the person of Jonathan. We retained a cordial relationship during his tenure. However despite some attacks I felt compelled to launch on him – and his wife. Jonathan committed some truly alarming errors of governance. He was propelling himself towards outright fascism.
“Asked by the interviewers if Jonathan was caged, he answered, “Correct. There are forces around Jonathan, you put your fingers around it, which he himself does not understand and that is why I stressed that, you’ve got to choose your circle of advisers very carefully, when you are in charge. He’s been caged; things are going on in his ministry that he did not know about.”
He stressed, for instance, that the former President did not know that King of Morocco had withdrawn his ambassador to Nigeria in March, 2015 until a week later.
He further stated that the former leader surrounded himself with corrupt individuals.
“When it comes to the issue of corruption, Jonathan surrounds himself with certain unsavoury characters and that is something you don’t have to do if you are in charge,” he said.
Soyinka said that a leader dedicated to the fight against corruption should ensure that the agencies entrusted with the responsibility to fight the scourge were strengthened.
According to him, he told pioneer Chairman of the EFCC, Ribadu, that he was being used by Obasanjo but he did not believe it.
He stated that the former EFCC boss admitted to him when he was sent on exile in the UK that he did realise very late that OBJ was using him.
Soyinka stressed that it was imperative to remove the link between power and corruption in Nigeria.
He said, “Why should a President involve himself in what is already structurally established and dedicated to that purpose?
“I warned your former boss, Ribadu, I told him that, your task will be done when in the course of your investigation; you discover that the source of the problem is the very person who appointed you.
“He looked shocked a bit, and eventually he and I met in London, after he was removed and (the current Governor of Kaduna State Mallam Nasir) el-Rufai was also in exile after they tried to kill him. We met and Ribadu refused to sit down. I asked him to sit but he said no, that until I accepted his apology, he won’t sit down. I asked what apology? And he said ‘I should have listened to you. I failed to listen to you.
“Something you have said to me and I failed to listen’ Ribadu admitted that he realised very late that Obasanjo was using him.
“So we have to destroy that link between power and corruption. Audu Ogbeh confirmed what I am telling you. Then, it was ‘go after this one, go after that one, ahh you did not arrest him? Arrest his mother! I am challenging Obasanjo to deny it.
So, when you are looking for corruption, you should look at the entire stratum of the society, while some forms of corruption are direct, others are indirect.
The professor also criticised the former President on his choice of campaign managers during the presidential elections, noting that he phoned Jonathan and cautioned him on his choice of former Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel, as one of his managers.
“Do you need somebody like that? What about somebody like Gbenga Daniel who closed down a legislature for almost a year? When I heard this, I called Jonathan, I asked him, ‘is this your understanding of democracy.”
“A governor closes down an assembly with the aid of the police and the place is under lock with ‘Mopol’ guarding it. When Jonathan selected this person as his campaign manager in Abuja, I telephoned him; I said does this support democracy that you choose this person. It is not a question of this person is a governor therefore come to my party, I can work with him. No, when a president picks somebody for a particular duty it means you are pointing that person out as an aspect of government so you see, it is impossible for me to pick Jonathan as a candidate,” he said.