Did Professor Wole Soyinka just call Dame Patience Jonathan a Hippopotamus?

This is a Press Statement by Professor Wole Soyinka on the issues between himself, Patience Jonathan and other matters

In Public Interest, in order to eliminate all further distraction and enable the nation to concentrate on issues that affect the democratic pursuit, it is necessary to make the following information available:

Before the press conference held by Femi Falana and myself – that is, even before the Rivers Assembly fracas – I had been canvassed by opposing sides of the face-off, both via telephone and physically. One such visit, perhaps the most significant, was made by a Special Adviser in the presidency who outlined what can be regarded as the official rationale for the Governors’ Forum election debacle. In the process of this exchange, he did make certain complaints against Governor Rotimi Amaechi, including charges of a conflict of interests over certain resources. This was implied as the root of division between the Governors’ Forum and the Presidency.

I wrote down the details, informed the emissary that I would pass on these accusations to Governor Amaechi – which I did. That Amaechi hotly denied them and offered contradicting facts, which he urged me to verify, remained, and remains utterly irrelevant to the democratic core of the conflict – and this has been made clear to all interventionists: Keyed into this core are:

(i) the arithmetics of democracy involved in figures 16 and 19 at the time, and now, with increased confidence in impunity, the figures 27 and 5.
(ii) whether or not it is democratic , even cultured proceeding that a state governor is barred from public access anywhere within his own zone of constitutional authority, with the massive security apparatus of the centre, on behalf of an unelected individual.

Even after the Rivers crisis has been resolved, this notorious proceeding will not be permitted to fester unchallenged.

For the rest, since beneath the surface of most Nigerian conflicts will be found inordinate greed for public resources, it is perhaps pertinent to remind ourselves that Oil is not the only marvel to emerge from the Delta swamps. There are also exotic creatures – mermaids, manatees, even mammy watas and hippopotami. However, unlike crude oil, which can be refined, you can extract a hippopotamus from the swamps, but you cannot take the swamp out of the hippopotamus.

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  • bayo sanni-omotosho

    Afetr reading this comment, I couldn’t help but think of Hipopotamus and the striking semblance to madam at the top. This couldn’t have been more perfect!!!

  • jeremiah ezeukwu

    wole soyinka loves criticism alot. He tinks he is perfect wit his dyed hairs. Alwaz talkin bad abt odas. Hmm. Tak ur time o.

  • Mike Ade

    I’m so disappointed prof.Soyinka has bcome partisan and so reduced himself 2 a mouth organ.Prof when have u bcome a court where issues are addressed?dat Emissaries now visit 2 lay complains.Again,I ask wat are ur moral antecedents 2 even pass judgement on people…….honestly u’re falling short of d standard I use 2 know u for.Very hasty and biased conclusions

  • titilola

    Even if the Prof isn’t a court, it is his country’s government that is putting up a show of shame! If something is bad, its bad!

  • Kiks

    Long live d professor!

  • Oluwatoyin Joseph

    In a nation where 16 is more dan 19,i guess we nid a wise man 2 call us 2 order.i dnt c anytin wrong wt d Prof’s assertn bt its just dat wen u exchange words wt fools,they av succeeded in dragn u 2 their level where they bcome kings ova u ‘cos u cant beat them at their game!

  • Bisi Oyegoke

    Patience J. is an idiot 4 callin WS an embrassemnt 2 his pple, WS slpt in diff cell durin Abacha regime,he fought 4 democracy dt GEJ n PJ r feedin fats on 2dy.Tk WS.

  • Bisi Oyegoke

    Patience J. is an idiot 4 callin WS an embarasemnt 2 his pple, WS slpt in diff cell durin Abacha regime,he fought 4 democracy dt GEJ n PJ r feedin fats on 2dy.Tk WS.

  • Niniola Olayiwola

    Prof is right. Everyone has his or her own opinion about national issues! She really looks like a Hippo with no brain………

  • Nasiru Ibrahim

    You people are all disappointing our national flag and you all need to apologize

  • daniel

    Theres absolutely NO need for this comments coming from soyinka, this is unnecessary, our leaders just keep disappointing us. Of what benefit is this comment to the present crisis??? To come out to publicly make such statements about the firstlady. Most of the leaders you see today are fighting for their pockets.

  • sani Abdullahi

    Prof have described Chair lady of widows rightly. Aint seeing a Hippo before but he has given me a clue. What a shapeless ugly animal it is.

  • Gutie

    To my mind, prof WS did not call her a hippo. He analogised. And a discerning mind would see that he was simply saying, that both GEJ and his Dame CANNOT be better peole than what they are now. Who they are is product of their background. And they will always be who they are. No truer words have been spoken

  • Ajasa Senapon

    Every Nigerian should be concerned with what is happening in OUR country. If the professor is concerned I don’t see anything wrong. As a matter of fact, I strongly believe its overdue.

  • omisblack

    this is a world of expression of what u have in mind,so whatever the professor sees and is bordering him should be expressed to the public,thank u prof.

  • wifa

    I tink dat prof wole is over reacting on dis matter. He shud show respect to d wife of d president. He is alwas quick to criticise, if he tinks dat its easy to rule nigeria, he shud go n contest 4 presidency come 2015.

  • sunny

    the prof is right, after all respect is reciprocal & is given to those who earn it. more so, i don’t know why WS is being misunderstood. please guys, dust up your literature books

  • aminu

    I lpve Nigeria. When professors talk, it alwz have a different interpretations but he didn’t mention anybody’s name but left it for u to put meaning into his statement. Nigerians are painting a picture out of what he said. Why are u guys associating our first lady with hippo? Pls prof u need to decode ur statement or break this your statement down.

  • sky

    Very disappointing coming from WS,I’ve always said it that the people I dislike the most are those that call themselves activist.How many elections have come and gone?why haven’t our dear prof driven his anger of change into the podium let’s vote him in for the change he grately crave?But u know what,he will not because he enjoys the title of an activist and dread to be in the bulls eye for fear of failure and been critisized.We saw his compatriots then Tai solarin and the Peoples bank saga.If WS wants to help let him take up an appointment and work for change and lets put his inteligence to test with Nigeria.How far did WS’s road safety go?the greatest threat to students lives in our institutions today that has claimed thousands of students,was as a result of his making of trying to form a fraternity that has turned into the monster we have today.So WS should pls mind himself and enjoy his moments b4 he starts rubbishing all his good works in his old age.

  • sunmbo

    by way of clarification,hippopotami is the plural of hippopotamus.How on earth dd wole Soyinka crossed the border of Mrs Goodluck.Obvoisly,a tribal dimension is now bn introduced.I hope the press statement by Soyinka was actually read well by most people on this thread.Someone said’what was Soyinka’s antecedent in FRSC and Peoples’ Bank.Was Soyinka ever @ Peoples” Bank?If u dont know a thing dont “put” your mouth.

  • someone

    This is crazy! No name was mentioned, calm down y’all. He wasn’t referring to any1 but if d shoe fits u, lace that bitch up and tie it… CraZy nigerians

  • tupem

    I am sure it is jonathan’s clones that are comin here to make silly comments! WS has no respect for the first Lady! Does the first Lady has respect for herself, talkless of deserving one?! Silly hippopotami!


  • Omokay

    I wonder why people so bother about WS express on this matter, he is free like any nigerians more so he never mention anyone name. though there was attacked on Prof personality which was even directed by the people in the presidency. Please how many of this stupid politician were there when people like WS lays their life’s all in the name of democracy that they all enjoying now. Please stop embarrassing our dear Prof.

  • johnny

    Prof. I love your statement. Let’s all have it in mind. Nigerian politicians both present and past are all thieves. Ole! So anything wole says is his own idea of trying to inform the public on the present state of calamity the Nigerian country is facing. Let me remind you that nothing still works in Nigerian until now. No good road, no power and no water. These are basic neccessities like A, B C. Nigerian leaders should go and burry their heads in shame. Johnny

  • Sima

    …and this is the problem. Understand before you comment, don’t just read. Find the meaning behind “the meaning.”

  • Manuel

    …madam Patience, the ball is now in your court, will you prolong the misery in your bedroom by replying Wole Soyinka or will you exercise “patience” this time.

  • Olusola Adegbite

    Finally, the big Masquerades behind the Rivers roforofo fight could no longer hold back their desperation, and within a twinkle of an eye, they threw all caution to the wind. Perhaps, it has been months of great agony and anguish for the occupiers of the State House, wondering collectively how they could all be fighting just one man, yet his popularity increases by the day. Something indeed tells me that they must have endured scores of sleepless nights in endless permutations, bitter strategising, and high-level political brainstorming, on what exactly their next move should be, in this do or die agenda to bring down just one man. I try to imagine what must have remained Abuja’s consistent distress, persistent restlessness, and unguarded fury, at watching just one man, one man bounce back at every of the brick, cudgel, and spanner thrown into the works, calculated at wrecking any meaning governance in Port-Harcourt. I can only imagine the recklessness of their search in their latest assignment, at which they must have thundered, “At this point, anything goes”, which ultimately led them on a search for that one man to bear the cross.

    It was not long before they found a willing hand. The lot fell on someone, a man by the name, Evans Bipialaka. It is settled law of reason, that in the course of human history, men would always be called upon to write their name in the history books; the good news is that every man has the prerogative to either write his name in gold, or in the mud. History is a fair Arbiter, for it gives unto every man the privilege to choose, to either honour is his family name, or to bring disgrace upon it. Incidentally, Evans Bipialaka’s emergence is not news; after all in the last three hours of our Lord Jesus and his persecution thereof, there was a certain Judas Iscariot, who was more than willing to be a hero. And so, the new friend of Abuja, Mr.Bipialaka sat at the feet of the Powers that be, and was fed with necessary instructions on the next assignment on getting Amaechi. Strangely enough, he did not even bother to reason it out. The instructions were simply dumped on his laps, and he took off tempestuously to do the bidding of his Oga at the top. Did I just hear someone say that a man cannot give what he does not have? Then Bipialaka’s case must be a pathetic one. In Yorubaland, it is the slaying of our Elders, that if a man is sent on an errand as a Slave, he has a duty to himself to run the said errand as a Son. Strangely, the former status appealed a lot more to Bipialaka, than the latter.

    That man I saw on TV called Bipialaka is certainly not a Parliamentarian. For minutes, I watched him on TV in a display that no Area boy in Lagos can match. At a point, he was even proudly describing to some thugs he brought with him, how he gave one Hon. Chidi Lloyd and others deadly punches, before one of the thugs attacked the Camera man shouting: “Stop the recording!” If that man Bipialaka is indeed a part of the Rivers State House of Assembly, then something serious must be wrong with the minds of the members of the constituency that voted in that kind of character as their representative, or maybe he simply smuggled himself into office through snatched and stuffed ballot boxes. Verily, Bipialaka can only be a Parliamentarian in an Assembly of Area boys. Disappointedly for Mr.Bipialaka, he even failed woefully in the assignment dumped on his laps. Characteristic of the sort of malfeasance you find in such acts of executive sponsored recklessness, Mr. Bipialaka could not so much as apply a little intelligence to the dirty job handed over to him. His sanity vanished in the euphoria of assurances that he has enough Abuja backing to do and undo, and he proceeded to drag his name and that of those who sent him in the gutter. I try to imagine how angry those who sent him on this errand must be by now.

    And they say he is a cousin to the First-lady. This is the last straw that breaks the Camel’s back. At this point, I must simply just shake my head. She was even at his wedding recently, where the whole of Port-Harcourt was locked down in heavy traffic, all because she needed to attend a mere wedding. In fact, Bipialaka equally in a hurry to display the son of who he is did say that he is fighting Governor Amaechi because the governor “insulted” the First Lady, who he said is his Jesus Christ on earth.? In the words that came out of Bipialaka’s mouth, he averred, ?“Why must he be insulting my mother, my Jesus Christ on earth?” No wonder Soyinka coined the powerful phrase, “mere domestic appendage” But then, I thought there was a time in our culture that when a family member misbehaves, the whole family would be thoroughly ashamed? Well, maybe that is the reason why Bipialaka is who he is. Is it not said that a man is certainly the product of his family as his first point of socialisation and whatever he turns out to be can only be a consequence of the kind of home training he gets.

    Funningly, the First lady has since announced herself as Amaechi’s Mother. Again, this is another point where I must simply just shake my head. For serious National issues to be reduced to mere jocular jibes by persons in authority, even if they got there by being mere domestic appendages, clearly suggests a society that has lost it. Clearly, it is not the Nigerian people that make Nigeria a laughing stock before the International world, but her supposed leaders. No wonder Jonah Jang also proclaimed that he is Amaechi’s father. May be tomorrow Nyesom Wike would tell us he is Amaechi’s Uncle, and Godswill Akpabio would follow suit, and say he is Amaechi Creator. Suddenly, Amaechi has become the hottest commodity to claim as a family member. I try to imagine Michelle Obama telling a Governor of a State in the US, that she is his mother. Did someone just hiss, saying for that to happen, it would be nothing but an abomination. Of a truth, every family would tell its own story. Suffice to say that it is incontrovertible fact that every time you behold the glowing intelligence of Michelle Obama, the American Firstlady, you can easily tell the kind of man she is married to. Since the likes of Bipialaka and Amaechi’s new Mother are the Power-brokers in Nigeria, it is of no surprise that Amanpour would find it so easy to take us to the cleaners in a one-on-one interview, even when such an interview is supposed to be as simple as a,b,c.

    Olusola Adegbite is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

    Olusola Adegbite, Esq.
    Faculty of Law,
    Obafemi Awolowo University,

  • adeola..

    …democracy s about crashing in 9ja.our politicians are all getting naugthy by d day,bunch of thieves,irresponsible and shameless representatives,d day of reckoning s close by…u all re takin average nigerians 4 granted,right from mr president GEJ to d least public ofc holders…pro save ur breath,cs dey’ll nt listen…RIP UMAR MUSA YARDUA.

  • Engr. Victor wilk

    Wole soyinka you are elder stateman, stop critizing government and leaders to avoid embarassment. After all nobody is perfect in Nigeria including you. We need to show good examples this is not a matter of research and book writing but by physical demonstration. We need to imbibe the spirit of love, tolerance, and respect to the president and his family. Every nation have problem but they always manage it. Our is not a new thing don’t critize Prof…thanks.

  • Engr. Victor wilk

    I am totally disapointed by the selfish character of Nigeria’s law makers and the judiciary especially Northeners. They are so corrupt.

  • Augustine Gift

    i see nothing wrong in what our able prof just said. He said the right thing, and what is needed to say he has said it. “Abeg wole any time u see bad talk am”.

  • Olomu Sebastian

    wole look back to the legacy u gave Nigeria. It has spread like bush fire from our universities down to primary schools.
    It has now spread motor parks and villages.
    It is worse than ebola.
    Use your tongue to count your teeth.