Speaking during a visit to PUNCH Place, the corporate headquarters of PUNCH Nigeria Limited, Kilometre 14, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ogun State, on Tuesday, Soyinka said decentralisation of the nation would ensure healthy rivalry among the component units.
The laureate said it was wrong for previous administrations in the country to say that Nigeria’s sovereignty was non-negotiable, submitting that the position was antithetical to development. Soyinka added, “I am on the side of those who say we must do everything to avoid disintegration. That language I understand. I don’t understand (ex-President Olusegun) Obasanjo’s language. I don’t understand (President Muhammadu) Buhari’s language and all their predecessors, saying the sovereignty of this nation is non-negotiable.
It’s bloody well negotiable and we had better negotiate it. We better negotiate it, not even at meetings, not at conferences, but everyday in our conduct towards one another. “We had better understand it too that when people are saying ‘let’s restructure’, they have better things to do. It’s not an idle cry; it is a perennial demand.
The Pro-National Conference Organisation was about restructuring when this same Obasanjo said it was an act of treason for people to come together to fashion a new constitution. Those were fighting words; that you’re saying, ‘I commit treason because I want to sit with my fellow citizens and negotiate the structures of staying together’ and ask the police to go and break it up and arrest us. “I remember that policeman, who said if we met, that would be treason. I wasn’t a member of PRONACO at the time. That’s when I joined PRONACO. If you’re saying to me, ‘I am a second-class citizen; I cannot sit down and discuss the articles, the protocols of staying together’ and you’re trying to bully me, I won’t accept.” He said Nigeria could not continue with a centralisation policy, which encouraged what he described as “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop” mentality. Soyinka said the over centralisation of government had resulted in resentment among constituent states, adding that the phenomenon was insulting and promoted anti-healthy rivalry among states.
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