Nigeria’s Unity is negotiable – Soyinka

Literary icon and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has said that Nigeria is very much negotiable, maintaining that those who are won’t of saying the country’s unity is non-negotiable are wrong, especially following the state the country is at present.

This is even as the Bayelsa state Governor, Seriake Dickson, agreed with the Nobel Laureate by stating that, although Nigeria is better off being united as a one big, diverse country with its beauty of a multifaceted culture, it however must be restructured into a nation of compassion, truth and love void of deceit and injustice especially to the people of Ijaw nation. Soyinka gave the statement at a colloquium entitled: ‘A day with the Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka and Ijaw literary icons’ held at the Ijaw National Academy, Kaiama, Bayelsa state.

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

The literary icon also cautioned that the calls for restructuring should not be trivialised because, according to him, restructuring means a call for the reorganisation of the country in a way that each component units is allowed to develop at its own pace with a fare control of what it produces. According to him, “Nigeria is negotiable. The rights of people to determine their future is what is non-negotiable. “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 have arisen in the first place. It all sounds hypocritical, dogmatic and dictatorial. The statement, is the unity of Nigeria non-negotiable? Now that, to me, is a falsitude.” “Should Nigeria break up, my answer is no. But please don’t tell me that Nigeria, as it stands, is non-negotiable. For me, this is a fallacy.”

The Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in literature also corrected what he said is a misconception of the word restructuring, saying, “Sometimes, when people say restructuring, what they really mean is negotiation.” He said “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.” While commenting on the issue of herdsmen menace in the country, Soyinka said it seemed “those inhabiting oil today are four-legged individual.” He said he does not see the relationship between herdsmen and the oil lands of community dwellers to warrant the clashes between the herdsmen and Ijaw people whose lands are covered with oil. He queried, “Do cows drink oil?” He said that, at the forefront in the calls for the country’s restructuring should be the restructuring of the peoples’ minds with education, saying, that is exactly what Governor Seriake Dickson is doing. “Today, those inhabiting oil are four-legged individuals, herdsmen having clashes with community people and I ask, do cows drink oil? If we do not restructure the mind, we will discover that cows may start siphoning the oil.”

Also speaking, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa state who embarked on a series of massive project execution especially in education, healthcare, security and power hub, maintained that what he wants is a Nigeria that is fair to his people; a new Nigeria where, especially oil will not be taken away from his people to develop other areas while leaving them and their region marginalised and without development. He said, sometimes the region’s states are caught up with non-payment of salaries because “we don’t control what we produce. Nobody should tell us that there is nothing to negotiate about. He said, “the reason we have spent over 55 billion naira in the past five years building education in Bayelsa is because we want to groom a new generation of servants and leaders, people who would have the courage to stand up firm and say no when no is the right answer and yes when yes is the right one.”

“Yesterday, we came here to start a process of commissioning our minds to free you from ignorance…the only way we can get out of militancy, criminality and crimes is by building schools like the Ijaw National Academy.” He said, “we have fewer militants today” because his administration has invested hugely in education and other infrastructure. Governor Dickson said his government spends almost 150 million naira every month to cater for the educational needs of Bayelsa children having given them complete free education in the schools including feeding, free text-books, uniforms, and grants. He lamented that Bayelsa is cut off from the world with lack of air and sea ports. He said the absence of the ports have discouraged investors both local and international from coming to invest in the state, hence, his administration’s drive to salvage the situation through the construction of the Bayelsa International Cargo air port with an already completed 3.5km runway. 3.5km runway of the Bayelsa International Airport.