Nigeria’s continued existence is negotiable, says Soyinka, Dickson
Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, yesterday said the continued existence of Nigeria as a country was negotiable, as most nations of the world came to be through negotiations.
The literary icon, who spoke at a colloquium in Kaima, Bayelsa State, with students of the Ijaw National Academy, said it was wrong for anyone to thinks that Nigeria’s existence was not negotiable
At an event organised by the Bayelsa State Government to honour Nigeria's literary icons, Profs John Pepper Clark, Gabriel Okara and historian icon, Prof Joe Alagoa, Soyinka noted that most Nigerians are missing the arguments.
He said: "We are mixing up the argument. When people say, especially former leaders and especially those who bear enormous responsibility for the question of breaking up or not breaking up, our role in the first place it always sounds hypocritical, dogmatic and dictatorial, and that statement is that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.
"That, for me, is a falsity. Anything is negotiable. The right of people to determine their future is what is non-negotiable. Most nations came to be through negotiations.
"Sometimes when people say negotiate, what they really mean is restructure. What the argument should be, what the question should be, is should Nigeria break up? And my answer to that is, no!
"But please, don’t tell me that Nigeria, as it stands, is not negotiable. It is a fallacy. The nation has got to be negotiated. Negotiation includes ensuring that there is no marginalisation."
Soyinka said negotiation has to do with the issues of resource control and restructuring the country in a way that components and constituents would not be feeding an over-bloated centre to the detriment of their own development.
"So, Nigeria is negotiable. What we should say, the language we should use is, what are you willing to sacrifice, what efforts are you willing to make to ensure that Nigeria remains intact. That is the citizen question," he insisted.
Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, while aligning with Soyinka, said there was everything to negotiate for, especially with the marginalisation of the region, which lays the golden eggs, but yet suffers more.
According to Dickson, though the continuous existence of the country was desirable, even among many citizens, Nigerians have issues to bring on the table for amicable resolution.
He said: "The continuous existence of Nigeria is desirable, but Nigerians, all of us, have issues to bring to the table for an amicable resolution so that we can make our union more perfect, enduring and sustainable.
“There is no crime, no shame in saying that and feel free to question any notion about our country. After all, our people have been funding the Nigeria experiment for the last 61 years.
“From our backyards, they carve out portions of lands and call it oil blocs from Abuja and Lagos and other capitals of the world. I have said it severally, what they sit down in cosy offices and call oil blocs and give to whoever they choose to give is actually your ancestors' properties.
“Questions continue to be raised about environmental injustice. What is going on in all our communities, I describe as environmental terrorism. “So, nobody should tell us that there is nothing to negotiate about; there are several things, too many things to negotiate about,” he stated.
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