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Nigeria's Turmoil

February 10th, 2010
02:10 PM ET

By Tom Evans; Sr. Writer, AMANPOUR.

Nigeria’s Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa today insisted there is no power vacuum after the country’s parliament voted to install Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as acting head of state – while President Umaru Yar’Adua is absent on medical leave.

“There has not actually been a power vacuum”, Aondoakaa told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “The main issue is that there must be ways of resolving our progress constitutionally. The system is working because nobody has taken up arms.”

Aondoakaa’s comments came on the same day Nigeria’s House and Senate approved a resolution to suspend President Yar’Adua, who went to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment at the end of November and has been absent for nearly 80 days. He has not been seen in public since he left Nigeria.

Aondoakaa said the parliament’s resolution is non-binding. He said the Executive Council, made up of government ministers, has to look at the legislature’s proposal.

“What is important now is to move the country forward… for the three arms of government to come and support the Vice President to carry out his duties”, he added.

But Aondoakaa’s stance was strongly criticized by Nigerian Nobel Prize winner for literature, Wole Soyinka, who said it’s astonishing that someone like the Attorney General can “talk from all four compass points of his mouth”, as he put it. “He’s told so many untruths.”

Soyinka accused the ruling party – the People’s Democratic Party – of rampant corruption. “The issue is that certain elements within the ruling party love this (Presidential) hiatus, they love the headlessness of government because they can proceed to loot and create their own little empires while the president is away.”

He said the PDP will not give up easily. “They’re going to find other forms of delaying tactics, and I’m talking about certain criminal elements within the ruling party. They are the ones really responsible for this.”

Soyinka said it may soon be time for Nigerians to embark on a campaign of civil disobedience to stop the PDP – what he called “an illegitimate, unelected, corrupt and murderous party.”

He added there will be civil disobedience if measures such as electoral reform designed to put the country back on a democratic path are not implemented.

“There’s got to be a review”, he said. “Failing all this, the citizenry will embark on a civil disobedience campaign. I see no other course for the nation.”

Soyinka said such a campaign would begin on a small scale, and then escalate until “so-called legislators” are made to live up to their responsibilities.

“It’ll mean a de-recognition of the government to start with, flouting the law wherever possible”, he said. “We’ve demonstrated that the rallies need not be violent as long as civil rights are not trampled on.”

He said that while it’s a make-or-break period for Nigeria, it is still possible that the country will come through this period intact.


Filed under:  1 • Nigeria
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. pablo mosco

    Once again, we are faced with men like the attorney general who is suppose to be a responsible father,uncle and leader coming before the entire world to tell blatant lies about the state of the nation. The evil that men do now catch up with them, so he should be expectant.

    February 10, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  2. David Fatunmbi

    No doubt about it, our "lion", Professor Soyinka, got it right.

    February 10, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  3. Eunice

    Nigeria is being led in different directions by wolves posing as politicians. The National Assembly can pass all the resolutions they want [just as they did against the USA after the Mutallab saga] but it cannot be binding on the Executive most especially in this situation where the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has prescribed in clear terms the steps to be taken in the situation we find ourselves. The Executive arm of Govt is the body empowered by Law 2 set a process in motion that will ultimately declare the President incapacitated consequent upon which the Vice President shall hold office of the President.This process can only be initiated by the Federal Executive Council[made up of the Ministers].Where the FEC refuse to do so and there's no transmission of a letter by the President to the Senate,then the only other option left for the National Assembly is to impeach the President. Please read sections 143,144 and 145 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

    February 10, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  4. king-Denmark

    I Think Mr WOLE Soyinka is a right thinking personality i always admires. This system of gov't is so common in west and central Africa. I think the should be a pressure on these regional presidents to always respect the rule of Democracy. There is no Democracy in these parts Africa.

    Especially where i come from-Cameroon, we have a kind of Dictectorial but disguised system of regime. Mr Paul Biya of Cameroon also did the same Like Mr Umaru Yar’Adua. No respect for their subjects who placed them there...is a petty. Even Mr GoodLuck will act thesame in future. We are living in a corrupt system whereby we are subjected to silence because our voices have been sealed by the action of brutality.

    Let the Nigerian have a say and not be ignored and excluded from voicing what they feel for their fatherland...Nigeria is not a house. Is a country and as a country, it belongs to everyone. Shame for the So called governmental Elites....

    February 10, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  5. Adedamola Solesi

    Aondoaka,the Attorney General with the unpronounceable name is not only a disgrace to the country,Nigeria,but also to Legal Practitioners all over the world.His utterances call for a deep scrutiny of his professional qualifications as the veracity of same is questionable in the contemplation of reasonable and sensible citizens of the world.

    We have become wary and apprehensive of the "cacophony" of a deranged member of cabinet whose "professional comment,amongst other things,is that the Nigerian President Yar' Adua can administer the country from anywhere within the Four Cardinal Points of the world.

    I must commend the contributions of the erudite Prof. Wole Soyinka,One of the shining lights of Nigeria,always present to show the world that the majority of the Nigerian citizenry is reasonable and honourable.

    February 10, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  6. Sarah Dairo

    I think Mr. Soyinka should define what he means by civil disobedience. That he should also be responsible for what happens to innocent citizens when they choose to follow his course of civil disobedience. If he's in LA singing civil disobedience in Nigeria, it might not really work. I think he should be here in Nigeria leading the civil disobedience and facing its consequences. It should be leadership by example. Disobedience will only lead to violence and he should be insisting on dialogue rather than leading people to violence.

    February 10, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  7. ifeanyi ukoha

    Aondoakaa is an epitome of the current political class ruling Nigeria. Sometimes i wonder whether they regard all lNigerians as foolish with their blatant lies. They succeed because of the apathy of Nigerians due to the militarialisation of our political consciousness. The millitary shoved and ordered us around and everyone got used to it and now in a supposed democracy we have people like the Attornety General capitalizing on the systemic weaknesses to deceive Nigerians.
    I am happy that Professor Soyinka represented the views of Nigerians in your programme. Nigeria is very blessed in everyway but the curse of corruption has eaten it all up. Thankfully, many Nigerians are waking up to insist on accountability but i fear for the future with school attendance falling due to inadequacy of schools and teachers and with young people opting more and more for the wrong means of livelihood we can only hope....

    February 10, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  8. Idi Gandu

    IIIIIIIIIIII am always impressed by Christiane Amanpour(C.A.) but was really disappointed with her knwledge of Nigerias political situation. She kept hammaring on imaginary situations despite the efforts of both Aondaka and Soyinka to guide her to the actual issues.If this was not deliberate and she was not pursuing an agenda for media popularty or some polical wishful thinking I will recommend the following.
    Idi Gandu , Abuja. Nigeria.

    February 10, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  9. david

    i am david, i live in italy..soyinka for now i can say is our voice to the world. now i think the world can see what we face from the nigeria's political tauts called politicians and usually not educated.this the reason why you see the massive illegal migrations of nigerians even to countries that are not up to standard.what a shame!

    February 10, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Reply
  10. danmaliki

    We Nigerians as a collective society have no doubt in our government ability to resolve any type situation amicably, though many nations doubt the Nigerian Governments ability, but we Nigerians as collective society, have faith in them, and in this case they prove it

    February 10, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Reply
  11. david

    i am a nigeria, i live in italy..soyinka for now i can say is our voice to the world. now i think the world can see what we face from the nigeria's political tauts called politicians and usually not educated.this the reason why you see the massive illegal migrations of nigerians even to countries that are not up to standard.what a shame! if America can help us to fight this corruptions by denying oue politicians and family of their visa and access to the united states.and notify nigerians of their secret forign accounts.these are our money looted by them,please we need this money to help ourselves.

    February 10, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  12. TUNDE ALAO

    The truth about my country is that our politicians hate the truth, act as if all of us are either ignorant or fools
    The act of the two chambers our National Assembly is tantanmount to a coup. Their action has no fundamental basis in law and believe you mean has put VP in a tight corner. This is interesting for an administration that calims to believe in the rule of law
    In Nigeria , most of the politicans do not want to be in opposition and all want to be seen to be loyal to the President. They are fair weather people who just want to be relevant in politics.
    They have made our country a laughing stock in the world

    February 10, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  13. Soji Fajemirokun

    The Attorney General is a very controversial figure complete with controversial statements that has stoke tensions in Nigeria. The man is insincere and has been under suspicion as abusing his position to shield some ex-governors suspected of corruption by thwarting the course of justice.

    February 10, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  14. kizito akudolu

    I am so proud of Wole Soyinka, atleast the world would know that Nigeria has noble intellects and not only corrupt politicians, i pray that Jonathan should be careful with all these corrupt politicians within the seat of power

    February 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  15. Ben Ekejiuba

    Granted that a lot is going wrong in Nigeria, I think we are now at a point where the different interest groups, tribes, religious sects, social strata, ...you name it..., have realised that we all have to exist together as a nation. SURELY, the situation will not become a full-blown crisis. There will be issues, skirmishes, threats, quarrels... but at the end of it all, we will come out stronger. Respects are gradually becoming more mutual. We are gradually grasping the intricate art of conflict resolution "the Nigerian way"!

    February 10, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  16. Okeke Basil

    Micheal Aondoakaa the AGF is known to be one of the most corrupt government official in Nigeria. Such person like Aondoakaa ought not to be in public service. Wole Soyinka has said it all, wat is needed now is to join him in this struggle. Nigeria needs change in leadership and the change we need is now.

    February 10, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Reply
  17. Sam Ogbo

    Am impressed, overwhelmed & fully in support of all dat the noble laureat wole soyinka said.
    Aondoakaa as he calls himself, do not have a bright vision for the future of our nation.
    ...Kudos!!! to soyinka for his galant speech.

    February 10, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  18. Sam Aderibigbe

    Aondakka or whatever his name is, is a big embarassment to his profession and an extremely annoying stain on our already stained garment as a nation. I wonder the desperation in trying to hold on to power for Yar'adua a man so sick that he has no control over his body not to now talk of a nation! Good thing he has been removed as the attorney general by the Acting President, but the fact that he is still in that cabinet purportedly through the spirited efforts of pro-Yar'Adua ministers saved him from been booted out which is a very better option. Yar'Adua has been absent for 80 days with a clear violation of the constitution which is an impeachable offence. One wonders the cloak of protection been worn around him. Its like a man naked in a snowstorm and you are trying to use a linen cloth to cover him.
    The civil disobedience as suggested by the Nobel Laurete Prof Wole Soyinka may be the last option to use in breaking the strangle hold of the cabal holding this nation hostage hence a revolution that is much needed in our nation for good governance,and responsible and accountable leadership. God bless Nigeria. #LightupNigeria! #SaveNigeria!

    February 10, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  19. yisa jay

    i believe nigerias political problem can best be handled by nigerians, power vaccum or not, Nigeria is still growing and circumstances like this are inevitable in a growing economy like ours, corruption is also a challenge we must whether.

    February 10, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  20. Rooha Ghaznavi

    The West promotes physical beauty to the extent that the rest who do not fall in the bracket are either in distress or feel less of themselves

    February 10, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Reply
  21. Rooha Ghaznavi

    What should be acceptable in the modern age is who the woman is rather than what she appears to be physically.

    February 10, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  22. Musa

    Thank goodnes for folks like Soyinka. I am happy Soyink made it very clear this is not a Norther vs Southern, or Chrisian vs Muslim issue. Nigeria's problem is simply bad leadership elements. The leaders need to realize that the whole world is watching. Folly is not bliss in this case.
    Maybe the largest black democracy still could be saved. Time will tell.

    February 11, 2010 at 12:18 am | Reply
  23. OHIS

    The A.G is an insult to the intelligence of the nation. He is a LIAR and also one who aids and abets criminal governors in Nigeria

    February 11, 2010 at 6:47 am | Reply
  24. Bode

    It is a disgrace that a man holding such an exalted position in a country will look learned people in the face and proclaim such blasphemy! Aondoakaa should be stripped of his powers with immediate effect in a sensible government but alas we talk about my esteemed motherland where the more falsehood you proclaim the higher you are elevated. This is totally shameful!
    On a positive note, I am hopeful that with people like Prof Soyinka still willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the nation, hopefully the younger generation will be more active for progress in the country.

    February 11, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  25. Sonny Adenuga

    FYI Prof. Wole Soyinka led protest among other prominents Nigerians in Abuja that heated the legistlatures. Our former President Alh Shagari, Gen. Gowon et al sent letters to the two houses of assembly for the good of the nation. PDP should be warned else 2011 they're in d drain. Its now we'll know the politicians and the cowboys. I dont care the title all I know, Jonathan is in-charge. For the 1st time a common man ruling Nigeria like Obama of America. This is our own and all we need is to pray for this man. His intervention brought fairness to election in Anambra state. How best to show he's listening to us? He removed AGF immediately. Again my hope is increasing in the Nigeria project. God bless all. Amen

    February 11, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  26. Katampe

    While I respect Professor Wole Soyinka's right to his theory, it is important to point out that his theory becomes implausible when evaluated against the backdrop of the Yar Adua's interview on BBC.If he could endure the interview, issuing directions on hand-over and a signature on a letter to that effect to the National Assembly should have been possible. Which leads me to my own theory:

    Nigeria is being kept together at all cost , while optimists hope that something extraordinary, something that sets it on a a noble path would happen.Yet, the folks that manage its affairs, I mean the northern elites who inherited a British organized fraudulent population census have superior voting numbers than the south, hence its hold and contention on power.

    This in turn has created spoilt and entitled northern elites, who were raised not through feudal entitlements of lineage, but rather through the acquisition and the benefit of western education. This privileged upbringing helped raised over the years the new northern aristocrats that do not possess the values of hard work and sacrifice found in the western tradition, or from the influence of the protestant ethic .Here lies their rise and their gradual erosion of relevance.

    What can ever explain the abdication of presidential responsibility ? Yar Adua disappeared , yes we know . But what happened to his family members? The daughters , his cousins, his mother and the wife from voicing out the true nature of things.

    It would be wishing thinking not to accept the theory, I think, that the decision not to handover comes from an entitlement culture of the a few northern elites that believed power should not be handed to a southerner. I think this is the crux of the matter.

    Nevertheless, I concede that open borders and communication and internet technology, promotion of the democracy, the world's hatred for crass despots and a growing citizen awareness that has created a country where northern elites posturing are becoming naked and unacceptable to everyone.

    Yes , Amanpour is right when she observes the idea of Muslim north and Christian south, it does exist and it is on this canvas that the nations political intrigues splashes its paint.

    February 12, 2010 at 2:43 am | Reply
  27. ola

    Reports from Nigeria states that the AGF you interviewed via telephone just a couple of days ago has been removed. It appears that man was alleged to be very corrupt. So Soyinka was spot on!!!

    I think the best way out for us all is for corrupt leaders past and present, members of their families, girl friends, mistresses, house girls/boys, friends, associates, civil partners, businesss partners,relatives etc be included on the Terrorist List/No fly list .

    Becasue i strongly believe that Any and All Actsof corruption must be declared as acts of Terrorism and therefore be so punished. This acts of corruption deprive the citizens the basic things of live and then innocent people die!!!!!. In Nigeria for instance, they do not have respect and dignity of human life, and due to the fact that the majority lack access to the basic things of life as a direct result of this corruption/acts of terror, people die needlessly. it is a shame!!!.

    The western world and their governments would do humanity a great favour by passing such a resolution in their various parliaments/ House of assemblies/Governments otherwise they themselves support, encourage and stimulate this acts of corruption/terror they are dying forshouting/fighting.(respect to the brave men and women who have paid and continue to pay the ultimate price in his fight). That their scarifice not be in vain is why i am angry.

    Finally, if indeed we are serious about this acts of terrorism and we all should, then the whole world should rise up with one voice and one accord and fight it and not leave same to America and the rest of Europe. Also the world should be ready to punish their sponsors and not seek political solutions.

    That is why i believe that the war in Afgan needs an wholistic approach with every body chipping in.

    I myself am ready to volunteer if called upon. but we all must join hands and fight it becasue if left un-checked, it would hit the world like a the black plague. And what shall we tell the generation yet unborn? May God help us.

    The World should begin to compile the list.

    February 12, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  28. Adebayo Ogungbure

    Politics in Nigeria has now degenerated to a point where disgruntled elements and ignoramuses on the basic principles of leadership parade themselves as leaders. The former AG's comments on the whether there is power vacuum or not is pitiable. I commend Wole Soyinka for displaying his usual outspokenness when it comes to pertinent political matters in Nigeria. The current trends of failure of leadership in Nigeria is not totally different from the existential conditions captured by Soyinka in his book titled: "You Must Set Forth at Dawn".

    However, I do not subscribe to his Prophecy about the looming outbreak of Civil Disobedience in Nigeria due to the unpalatable existential conditions. It could, in the least, amount to reliving the Hobbesian State of Nature where life is Solitary, Nasty, brutish, Poor, & short.

    I am a Nigerian who lives in Nigeria and strongly believe that progressive change will come to this nation in the near future when credible human beings take up political leadership positions.

    February 14, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  29. sam

    Amanpour you are great but you need to know more about Nigeria. the North is not predominantly muslim as is popularly disguised. the extreme North is but the middle belt down to the south is predominantly Christian. in the extreme North, you also find quite a significant number of Christians and other Nigerians that have been suppressed by Islamic oppression; thats by the way.

    Our amiable prof. is a man of substance and has done justice by voicing out on behalf of our suppressed voices. our leaders are wicked and evil. it is sad that our country is one in which the truth is abhorred; so then how can we be free. our politicians especially the northern aristocrats whose stock in trade is to loot the treasury of our dear nation are at it again. the occupy the positions of government, the wont spin the wheel of progress neither will they let another do the job as is the case with Yar adua and Jonathan. to the so called criminals i refer martials art of words: this world is a battle field, human beings are soldiers, some are commanders others are the commanded but when the field marshall God comes, the commanders shall be disciplined for the multiple wrongs and inhumanity they offer to the commanded.

    Arise o compatriots and let us save our Fatherland.

    God bless Nigeria.

    February 16, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  30. Sydney Dowst

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