Soyinka calls for reconfiguration of Nigeria, scores Buhari low

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka (right); Director, Wole Soyinka Foundation, Mrs. Folake Soyinka and Facilitator, Cedars Institute, Notre Dame University, Lebanon, Dr. Habib Jafaar, during a press conference in Lagos … yesterday PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI


Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has joined the call for restructuring. But he has coined a new term, reconfiguration. Since the word restructuring does not seem to appeal to those in power, instead, he said let there be a reconfiguring of the articles of association, since the original ones are no longer viable.

Soyinka spoke yesterday, in Lagos, when he announced the 10 Nigerian writers, who would be leaving for Lebanon today in a cultural exchange programme, The Sail Project, between The Wole Soyinka Foundation and Cedar Institute, University of Lebanon.

Soyinka accused those arguing for a restructuring of the mind of intellectual dishonesty and said Nigeria was long overdue for restructuring or reconfiguration.

“My own position is that people shouldn’t allow themselves be put up by those who try to cheat on the expression, ‘restructuring.’ It doesn’t matter by what name you call it. We all know that this nation was deconstructed and what we live in right now, as a nation, is not allowing structuring that expresses the true will of Nigerians.

“So, whether you talk of restructuring or you can call it reconfiguring, we can call it a return to status quo, reformulating the protocols of association. That is a long expression, or you can use a single word like restructuring; it doesn’t matter in the context. Everybody knows what we are talking about, that is number one.

“Number two: there are those who try to divert away the attention from the main issue by mouthing platitudes, cliches like, it is the mind that needs restructuring. This is a constant process, restructuring the mind; both an individual exercise as well as even the theological exercise. People go to churches and mosques for their minds to be restructured. Restructuring the mind is not the issue; nobody is saying restructuring the mind should not be undertaken; anybody who is involved in examination already engages in mental and or attitudinal reconstruction.

“So people should not try to substitute one for another. I find it very dishonest and cheap, trivializing the issue when people said it is the mind, which needs to be restructured. Who is denying that? So, why bring it up? We’re talking about the protocol of the association of the constitutive part of the nation. We’re talking about decentralization, that is another word. This country is over-centralised and that has been the bugbear of development, even of issues like security.

“So, individuals should not now sidetrack the issue and concentrate on that rather than this. Are you saying we cannot reconstruct the mind and reconstruct the nation at the same time? My express advice to our citizen is, they shouldn’t allow themselves to sidetrack, called by whatever name; we are saying that this nation is long overdue for reconfiguring.”

He said the call from some quarters for secession should not be mistaken for the genuine call for reconfiguring the entire country. He advised President Buhari to deal with secession and see restructuring as a totally different proposition.

According to him, “O yes, we know that there are movements for secession. Let Buhari and the others go and address that one separately. This should not be mixed with the demand of the nation for reconfiguration. People should stop answering the demand for secession by pretending to answer the demand for reconfiguration. Secession is a totally different thing. To try and suggest that the moment you say restructure, you are calling for disintegration is, for me, intellectually dishonest. That is not the issue at all. The issue for the call for secession is totally different.’’

Soyinka scored Buhari low on economic performance, saying there were areas of yawning gaps the administration has failed to address. He also scored the administration low on security, and called for state policing at the community levels.

“The average citizen feels less secure than a few years ago; that is evident. Again, when people talk about state police, there are reasons for it. When they talk about bringing policing right down to the community level, they know what they are talking about; this is also part of restructuring or reconfiguration of the articles of association.

“There’s a big question mark on the economy right now. Problem is, everybody admits that we went through a very dark patch. Right now, it’s a question of, have we come out of it or not? There is real internal economic hardship for the average Nigerian. When and where and how did the blame lay for the agony is a different matter.”

Soyinka would also not be drawn to Buhari’s possible second term, saying it wasn’t time for it.“I don’t understand this thing about second term. We haven’t gone half-way, or we are half-way and we’re talking about second term. I refuse to be part of that discussion; I absolutely refuse to be part of that discussion!”

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