By Chesa Chesa:

• PDP Agenda On Course –Ogbulafor

Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, on Friday visited Acting President Goodluck Jonathan at the Aso Rock Villa, where he commended him for sticking to the path of electoral reforms and the post-amnesty programme.

The scholar and social critic however said that as commendable as the vision of the amnesty programme is, its implementation was not well thought-out.

“The amnesty deal was a great and marvelous initiative on the part of Yar’Adua, no doubt about that, but it was ill-organised, ill-thought out,” he said, explaining that because adequate preparations were not made to accommodate those coming out of the creeks.

Although he told reporters that he came around “just to say hello” to Jonathan, the cerebral author and one of the leaders of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), added that he also discussed “unfinished business and ill-executed amnesty programme.”

He stated that he got positive vibrations from the Acting President concerning the need to institute credible electoral reforms in the polity.

“Unfortunately, one cannot transmit the same vibrations from the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, many of whose members are unelected anyway, and would like to leave things as they are because they hope to benefit from this illegitimacy and the whole corruption of the electoral system.

“I believe from our conversation, and even before now, that he (Jonathan) is of a different cast of mind and that if everything is left to him, I have no doubt at all that there will be a commendable tempo in the passage of the Uwais report and recommendations,” said Soyinka.

On the Niger Delta, Soyinka said the meeting with Jonathan was in continuation of his dialogue with the Presidency regarding the problem in the region, particularly as he had started the consultations when the Acting President was the governor of Bayelsa State.

He said: “I last met Jonathan in Bayelsa during the early days of trying to solve the problem in the Delta, as part of the advance team to look at the situation there, talk to the local people, stakeholders, so on and forth. He was governor of Bayelsa at that time, so we met and had discussions. Since then, I have been following his career.

“As you can imagine, what was uppermost in my mind was what was happening in the oil producing region; the issue of the amnesty, the unfinished business and ill-executed amnesty programme, which is a brilliant idea.

“That is just as I said to his predecessor President, the person he is acting for, (Umaru) Yar’Adua – I hope he will remember I did have a meeting with him, where we had a one on one, in addition with meeting him with the rest of the team. So it is a continuation of my dialogue with the Presidency over the Niger Delta region…

“But in the few minutes that I was there (with Jonathan), if you are asking whether we could solve the whole problem? Let’s just say that I found his approach to it very positive and optimistic.”

He added that “the mentality of the nation also was wrong; each time I read of repentant militants, I feel like vomiting. What do you mean by repentant militants? Did they tell you they were repentant? Did they believe, even now, that they committed a sin? You repent when you are convinced you committed a sin. Did they tell you that they committed a sin?

“So, the mentality of the nation also has to be reshaped, many of them believe in what they did. The nation and the government has a responsibility to turn the men around, and they begin that by remedying the conditions of existence, which led to their taking up arms in the first place.

“You treat them not as repentant militants, not as subordinates, you treat them as equals who however decided on a certain path due to a historical malformation in society. It shouldn’t concern the Delta people alone, that sense of injustice is reflected throughout the entire nation, the Delta problem should be solved holistically by transforming the structural relationship of the whole nation and deal very seriously with the revenue derivation problem.”

On other matters, Soyinka said his visit was not unusual, explaining that “people tend to forget that presidents are human beings first of all, and they have relationships. I used to visit (Olusegun) Obasanjo, at least when I thought there was something in him to benefit the nation. When I found there is nothing, I stopped. So it is not unusual for me to visit Presidents.”

He also clarified that he was not at the Villa on behalf of the SNG, disclosing that “we never mentioned Save Nigeria Group. We like to compartmentalise things as much as possible.”

“He has his presidential responsibilities, I have my responsibilities to the civil society, of which Save Nigeria Group happens to be one, and the Citizen Forum, which I am the head, is also another. If I came on behalf of the civil society, I will not come alone.”

Meanwhile, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, who was also in Aso Rock to confer with Acting President Jonathan countered that the post-amnesty programme has not been handled in a shoddy manner but only beset with short delays that caused boredom and resurgence of militancy.

His words: “I don’t want to say that it has been handled in a shoddy manner, I would rather say that it has been occasioned by short delays, planning and other logistics from the centre in terms of implementation of the agriculture programme of the amnesty.”

Meanwhile, embattled chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Vincent Ogbulafor, on Friday declared support for Jonathan for taking decisions and acting “according to our plan”.

Ogbulafor, who is buffeted by alleged plans to remove him from office for taking an apparent anti-Jonathan stance in the heat of the political impasse last month, made the declaration at the Presidential Villa, where he also canvassed the support of everyone and groups for the Acting President.

He said his latest meeting with Jonathan was “about our party and the federation; the key issues we discussed are about giving him support, giving the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief support, and telling him that PDP is solidly behind him.

“He should go on to govern this nation in the interest of the generality of the people, who voted us into power.”

Asked why he chose this time to confer with Jonathan, the PDP boss replied that “usually, from time to time, we meet with our leaders, and we consult with them, when we have problems, we trash it out, when we need advice, he would give us his advice.

“It is in a forum like this that we tell ourselves the truth. The Acting President has pleased the party so far, and he is going according to our plan.”

He also reiterated the party’s satisfaction with the ministerial nominees selected by Jonathan.

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