Reconfiguration, decentralisation necessary for Nigeria – Soyinka

NOBEL laureate, Wole Soyinka, a professor, has said Nigeria needs reconstruction, reconfiguration and decentralisation to maximise its development.

The renowned playwright stated this at a lecture to mark the 50th anniversary of the PUNCH newspaper, in Victoria Island, Lagos, on Thursday, February 29.

The professor, who was the main speaker at the event, said most leaders in Nigeria were only comfortable with the word ‘reconstruction’ before they got to the office, and they soon forgot about it after they assumed power.


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“And those who lead us recognise the necessity of it, recognise the importance, almost the inevitability of it until they get in power, that’s the difference.

“Reconstruction, reconfiguration, decentralisation all this is necessary in order to maximise development.

“So, reconstruction, decentralisation is not a slogan. And it is time I stopped the pretend decentralisation conferences, which have proved to be a mere distraction, especially by those who have a different agenda in mind, such as the third-time agenda,” Soyinka stated.

Soyinka, who clocks 90 this July, said most conferences on decentralisation only brought people together for a charade and warned that it was time that people stopped taking the nation for granted.

He posited that most often, the fear about restructuring was the fear of collapse or break up of the nation, arguing further that discussing the issues is better than continuing nursing concerns.

“What is wrong with the general representatives sitting down and saying this should be the protocols of association? Anything outside of it? Anyone who does not want to accept these protocols, abide by these protocols and manifest these protocols in the act should take a walk.

“I have no problem at all with even what is known as a nation beginning as a vast football field and ending up as a ping pong table if that is going to restore dignity to citizens, if that is going to guarantee three square meals a day, then so be it.

“One of my favourite expressions which people say is extreme is. Let nations die that humanity may live,” he said.

On hardship faced by citizens, the renowned poet said palliatives were temporary stopgap policies that do not reach the heart of the problem.

He emphasised that one of the enduring solutions to insecurity currently plaguing the nation was decentralising the country and bringing the government closer to the people.

The Nobel laureate also used the occasion to raise questions about the killing of Deborah Samuel in May 2022 in Sokoto State on the accusation of blasphemy.

“If last week, a judge still found it possible., logical and constitutional to order the Attorney-General of the nation to bring Dele Giwa’s killers to justice, then what happened in the case of Deborah Samuel? Just what happened there? Why is it that the case is nearly forgotten already.” he asked.

He also questioned why Rhoda Jatau, a woman, was jailed for making a video condemning the lynching of Samuel by a mob.






     

     

    “I Hope we all see the logical progression of this; if a mother of five could be imprisoned for condemning an illegal, brutal act, what’s the conclusion? It means that even when one’s people are lynched, the family will be guilty of mourning. That’s illogical; that’s the direction in which nation-building is going,” Soyinka stated.

    The Managing Director of Punch, Adeyeye Joseph, conveyed the gratitude of the newspaper to all who attended the event.

    There were goodwill messages from the governor of Ogun state, Dapo Abiodun, represented by his deputy Noimot Salako-Oyedele, representatives of Delta and Enugu state governors and other dignitaries at the occasion.

    The PUNCH was founded in March 1973 and turned 50 on March 18, 2023. However, the celebration was postponed until this year by the board of directors because the anniversary month coincided with an election year.

     

     

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