Nigeria Is 100% Negotiable and Must Be Negotiated – Soyinka

Wole Soyinka

By Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu

THE arguments against restructuring of Nigeria were Friday countered by Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, who said it was wrong to say that the country’s structure should be left the way it is.

Corroborating Soyinka’s position, Governor Seriake Dickson said there was need to negotiate cohabitation just as he said those calling for the breaking up of the country should jettison the idea.

R-L Hon Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa State Governor; Prof Wole Soyinka; Dr Gabriel Okara and Prof Ebiegberi Alagoa during an Interactive Session of Nigeria’s Literary ICON’s with Secondary School Students in Bayelsa State at The Newly Commissioned Ijaw National Academy Yesterday in Kaiama Bayelsa State. Photo: Nwankpa Chijioke

Soyinka said this at a colloquium entitled: ‘A day with the Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka and Ijaw literary icons’, held at the Ijaw National Academy, Kaiama, Bayesla state.

Other literary icons present include Dr Gabriel Okara, Prof Ebiegberi Alagoa and Prof John Pepper Clark.

Asked to contribute to the restructuring debate, the Nobel laureate said: “My response is simple. We must stop confusing and mixing up the argument, we are mixing up the argument. It is very unfortunate for our leaders to say that the question of breaking up or not breaking up should not arisen in the first place. It all sounds hypocritical, dogmatic and dictatorial. The statement is the unity of Nigeria is non negotiable, now that to me, is a falsititude.”

On the need to discuss the unity of the country, he said “Anything is negotiable, the right for people to determine their future is what is non-negotiable. Most nations came to being through negotiation.”

In an attempt to enlighten Nigerians on what is obtainable in restructuring, Soyinka said “Sometimes, when people say negotiate, what they really mean is restructuring. What the question should be: should Nigeria break up? My answer to that is no, but please don’t tell me that Nigeria, as it stands is non-negotiable. For me, this is a fallacy.”

“The nation has got to be negotiated, negotiation includes ensuring that there is no marginalisation. Negotiation means control of resources, negotiation has to do with restructuring a nation in a way that the components and constituents are not feeding an over bloated centre to the detriment of their own development. The language we should use is what are you willing to sacrifice? what effort are you willing to make to ensure Nigeria remains intact? That is the question,” he said.

Nigeria’s unity is negotiable—Dickson

Also throwing his weight behind Soyinka, Dickson said: “Nigeria’s unity is desirable and negotiable. The answer to break up is no. There is a desire to stay as one. Ask questions about what is happening, there are several things to negotiate. If we can control our resources, we will do more for our people. All we need to do, is to talk about about existence, our living together.”