Loudest among the voices of protest raised against the Dame [Nigeria’s first lady] was Wole Soyinka’s. He took her to task for imposing herself on the people and for acting like a “parallel head of state.” Soyinka called a press conference in Lagos and built his case against the President and his wife around an extended and unexpected metaphor: the twelfth-century persecution and murder of Thomas à Becket by the agents of Henry II. Speaking about the way a king might tacitly condone crimes and, thus, making pointed reference to the way Governor Amaechi was being stripped of power in Rivers State, Soyinka asked, “Are we not moving towards absolute monarchism? There are many worrying historical parallels.” A written statement he gave to the press had a more ad-hominem quality, ending with the line “You can extract a hippopotamus from the swamps, but you cannot take the swamp out of a hippopotamus.”
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