Wole Soyinka, Nigeria’s first and only Nobel Laureate, says he believes in the country’s unity but citizens have the right to determine what becomes of their future.
He made the remarks on Friday in Kaiama, Bayelsa State, during the commissioning of the Ijaw National Academy, an ultra-modern secondary school built by Seriake Dickson, Governor of the state Government.
Soyinka noted that the unity of Nigeria as a nation is a topic that should be brought to the dialogue table so as to address lingering issues of marginalisation and injustice.
“The claim that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable is a false statement. The right of the people to determine their future is what is non-negotiable,” he said.
“Don’t tell me that Nigeria, as it is, is non-negotiable. To me, that’s a fallacy.
“Negotiation involves ensuring that there’s no marginalisation. Negotiation involves ensuring that the major components of the country are not feeding on the centre.”
Soyinka stressed that he believes in the unity of Nigeria, but said that those who are against restructuring were being “dogmatic and dictatorial”.
Earlier, Dickson had expressed similar opinions, pledging support for Nigeria’s indissolubility but adding that federating states must be allowed to manage their resources.
Dickson noted that Bayelsa State has only eight local government areas whereas there are states that have as many as 44 local governments.
He argued that a system where the wealth gotten from Bayelsa is used to finance other states and local government areas is not sustainable.
Only few weeks ago, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had chided those calling for a renegotiation of the Nigerian state or for part of the country to secede.
“Our unity is not negotiable,” Osinbajo told a group of Muslim leaders at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa on June 25.
“We should make sure that we remain united in order to enjoy the resources God has blessed Nigeria with. So many nations envy what we have as a nation.”