Nigeria’s sovereignty is negotiable – Soyinka

Wole Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has repeated his call for the restructuring of Nigeria, reiterating that the sovereignty of the nation is negotiable.

Soyinka, who spoke during a visit to PUNCH Newspapers on Tuesday, said decentralisation of the nation would ensure healthy rivalry among the component units.

The 81-year-old said it was wrong for anybody to say that Nigeria’s sovereignty is non-negotiable, arguing that the position is anti-development.

“I am on the side of those who say we must do everything to avoid disintegration. That language I understand, Soyinka said”

“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 every day 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 (PRONACO) 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.”

Groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) have recently engaged in clashes with federal authorities over calls for Nigeria’s restructuring.

Soyinka warned President Buhari against a crackdown on pro-Biafra activists in an interview broadcast in December 2015.

“I remember I wrote an article during the (civil) war and I said at that time that Biafra cannot be defeated.

“People misunderstood what I was saying. I said once an idea has taken hold, you cannot destroy that idea…

“You may destroy the people that carry the idea on the battlefield, but, ultimately, it is not the end of the story,” he told Channels television.