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Friday, May 30, 2014

South Sudan’s Vice President, James Wani Igga: A problem rather than a conscientious leader


Photo: Gurtong.net
Throughout the history of South Sudan, the tribes in the three Southern states of South Sudan have always seen themselves as more amiable and ‘civilized’ compared to their Nilotic brothers, Jieeng and Naath people. While there are cases in which one can, at minimal, accept that to be true, history and a close look at the actual geopolitical realities in these three states and their inter-tribal relations, tell a different story.

So, one comes to realize that this vacuous sentiment is maintained by intellectuals and politicians in these states rather than by the average citizenry in the villages. A look at historical leaders and freedom fighters like Aggrey Jaden, Joseph Oduho, Father Saturnino, Joseph Lagu, Emedio Teffeng, Wani Igga among others, proves that South Sudanese leaders, no matter their tribes, can just be as tribalist as Jieeng and Naath people, the largest two tribes.
I’ve not seen a single case in which leaders in the three Southern states of South Sudan have acted as better leaders than the leaders from the western and eastern South Sudan.

All the governors in South Sudan suck up to the president in equal measure with no exception. Even when they know the president is wrong and that a given decision is detrimental to the future of the country, these governors would rather see the nation burn than to correctly advise the president.
But what’s my point?

After December 15, 2013 mutiny in Juba and the subsequent tribal fight that soon after turned tribal and genocidal, one would assume South Sudan could have unleashed the wisdom of their best brains to contain the situation.
When it became clear that SPLM internal leadership wrangle turned into, largely, Jieeng vs. Naath, people like me assumed other tribes in Equatoria led by the funny and always playful South Sudanese VP, James Wani Igga, would mobilize other tribes to bring Jieeng and Naath together and end the bloodshed.

But no! Wani actually became part of the problem and his speeches became increasingly divisive, opportunistic and bizarre. Instead of helping the President make sound decisions, the funny man went along with the filth fed to the president by the opportunists around the president. Instead of peace he started mobilization for war! With oxymoronic touch, he uttered peace but called the ‘Equatorians’ to mobilize for war!

However, we need to remember that the flame that lit and obliterated South Sudan was started by VP James Wani Igga through his December 8, 2013 press conference, which he convened as a response to December 6, 2013 press conference by Dr. Riek Machar and his so-called ‘reformist’ group.  Instead of showing leadership, Wani further inflamed the situation by using childish and inflammatory language.

Bizarrely, he denied that there were leadership problems in the SPLM when the press conference he was responding to was one example of the leadership problems. Besides, the postponement Political Bureau meeting in March of 2013, the president’s side-stepping of the Political Bureau, the president’s dissolution of the party structures and the postponement of National Liberation Council meeting on the 9th were all glaring indications of the problems the funny man was denying.
A good leader would have waited for the president to discuss the grievances raised by the group in order to present a sound, informed and appropriate response to the group. Wani’s response misled the president. The good old President Kiir followed exactly the attitude Wani had ignited on December 8, 2013 by calling the ‘reformist’ group ‘disgruntled’.

It’s true, and we all know, that the ‘reformist’ group of December 6, 2013 press conference are corrupt too. They were in the government for years with little development to show for it. However, a sound leadership, a leadership that governs the people and whose national fate lies in its hands, would have acted with greater understanding and precociousness. But no, Wani acted like a teenager and President Kiir followed suit on December 14, 2013 with that infamous, pointless and disastrous speech, and his response to the mutiny on December 16… clad in non-SPLA military fatigue.
Why can’t Wani, an educated man, guide President Kiir in a way that can get the nation out of this political and tribal abyss? Is telling the president the truth about the fate of the country very dangerous? If so then what the hell are you doing in such a government?

Riek Machar was South Sudan’s VP for 8 years. However, he did little to nothing to help the president make the right decisions. Wani is doing the same thing or even worse by ‘sucking up’ to the president in what Ugandan playwright, John Ruganda, called ‘Bootlicking’ in his play, ‘The Burdens.’
The VP now yaps about Riek Machar in every event forgetting the fact that it’s the same failed system he’s part of that produces the likes of Riek Machar:  over ambitious, callous and clueless!

Without any fundamental systemic reforms in South Sudan, South Sudan will never be peaceful. Wani is therefore becoming a big eye-sour for South Sudan and letting the president and South Sudanese down.
He let South Sudan down by showing grotesque failure of leadership on December 8, 2013 in SPLM leadership office in Juba. Admittedly, he continues to express nothing but political filth that serves nothing but to further aggravate the problem.

Wani needs to know or do the following:

·         He can’t yap about South Sudan and the currrent administration being ‘democratic’ when they are building a nation of single opinion where any different point of view is seen as subversive or treasonous. He’s educated so he can tell us… what kind of democracy is that?

·         South Sudan TV is used as a voice for filthy and divisive politics. The VP and the President are always giving speeches on SSTV in their Nigerian national dresses. You sometimes wonder as to whether it’s Abuja or Juba.

·         Let President Kiir know that nations are not built by encouraging them to develop as timid nations of single-opinions. Informed and diverse opinions shape decision-making and encourage inter-tribal understanding.

·         Veteran journalists, Nhial Bol and Alfred Taban, now face the same needless censorship they faced under the brutal, stone-age theocracy of Khartoum. What happened to the values you fought for, Mr. Vice President? Journalists are being intimidated with you as the VP of the nation. How different are you from the likes of Nafie Ali Nafie or Mustafa Osman?

·         When will he ever be serious and stop being a comedian all the time? Nations are not built by comedies!

·         He’s done nothing to alleviate tribal tension as he continues to yap about peace while calling for war. Classic oxymoron!

·         He initiated the mockery that eventually led to the bloodshed. Instead of showing level-headedness and the less belligerent attitude intellectuals in the three southern states of South Sudan keep boasting about, Wani came out as a childish, militant and heartless stooge of the president not interested in any amicable solution. So the VP also has BLOOD ON HIS HANDS!

·         The ‘reformists’ publicly aired their grievances to South Sudanese. That’s what sane people do in a democracy. Well, until some of them became insane after December 15. They gave the president a chance to respond and even postponed a planned rally to allow room for dialogue as advised by church leaders. But what did the good old comedian do on December 8, 2013 and the President on December 14? Instead of offering a chance for an amicable solution or responding as national leaders, who should be part of solution-seeking in South Sudan, Mr. Igga and Mr. Mayardit did the unthinkable! They mocked the ‘reformists’ group like, as I wrote last year, ‘school boys in the school playground.’ “Step on my feet and I’ll step on yours and let’s all go to hell!”

·         Don’t worry, Mr. Igga, you’ll not be pushed back ‘twice.’

·         Show that you’re educated, you have the interest of the country at heart, and that you are not a mindless ‘bootlicker.’

·         In June 2011, Wani Igga, then the Speaker of National Assembly, called for the implementation of the ‘Federal System’ but in May 2014, Mr. Igga rejected the ‘Federal System’ he was advocating for in 2011. The only reason is that he’d be seen as siding with the-always-rebelling Riek Machar if he embraces ‘Federalism’ now! What a leader, Wani is! He has no political stance but what his superiors hold dear!  ‘Equatorians’ still maintain the same stance Igga wanted in 201. So the VP is left alone and in the cold!

·         The South bled and is still bleeding and Mr. Igga is in the centre as part of the causal factors; the major ones