12 September 2017

Nigeria: Why I Won't Be Part of Debates On Buhari's Second Term - Soyinka

Photo: Vanguard
Wole Soyinka.

The Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, on Monday expressed disgust at the ongoing debate on whether President Muhammadu Buhari should re-contest in 2019.

Mr. Soyinka made this known in Lagos after a press briefing organised by the Wole Soyinka Foundation at Freedom Park.

The Nobel laureate said it was not appropriate to discuss Mr. Buhari's re-election, saying he would not be part of such a debate.

"Why are we talking about a second term for heaven's sake? I don't understand this. I refuse to be part of that discussion. I absolutely refuse to be part of the discussion," he said.

Commenting further, Mr. Soyinka noted that there are issues plaguing the present administration and that people agitating for state police and other concerns have reasons for such demands.

"Take simple security for instance," he said, "the average citizen feels less secure now than he did a few years ago: that is evident. 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 and parcel of reconstruction or reconfiguration.

"The economy, there is a big question about it right now. Fortunately, everybody admits that we went through a very bad patch. Right now, it is a question of have we come out of it or not or there is no question at all.

"The past few years have been years of real internal economic disaster for the average citizen."

He said there was a question of "who was responsible for the agony the nation was plunged into in the last two years."

On the need to restructure Nigeria, Mr. Soyinka accused some pundits of several attempts to cheapen the idea.

"It doesn't matter what name you call it. We all know what we are talking about. We all know that this nation was deconstructed and that what we live in right now as a nation is not along a structure that expresses the true will of Nigerians.

"So, when people use words like 'restructuring', 'reconfiguring' or call it 'reconfiguration', 'return to status quo', or call it reformulating the protocols of our association or use a single word like 'restructuring', it doesn't matter. Everybody knows what we are talking about.

"Also, there are those who try to divert the attention away from the main issue by mouthing platitudes, clichés like 'it is the mind that needs restructuring.' You know those I am referring to."

Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina recently criticised those calling for restructuring in an opinion piece. He asked such persons to "restructure their minds first before calling for political restructuring."

Mr. Soyinka said: "Restructuring the mind is not the issue. Nobody is saying that the exercise of restructuring the mind should not be undertaken; it should be undertaken. Anybody who indulges in self-examination is already engaging in an exercise of mental and attitudinal reconstruction. We know that. People shouldn't try to substitute one for the other.

"I find it very dishonest and cheap trivialising the issue when I hear expressions like 'it is the mind that needs to be restructured.' Who is arguing or denying that? Why bring it up? Why is it a substitute?

"We are talking about the protocols of association of the constitutive parts of a nation. We are talking of decentralisation. That is another word. This country is over-centralised.

"Are you saying we cannot reconstruct the mind and reconstruct the nation at the same time? Call it by whatever name. We are saying that this nation is long overdue for reconfiguring. That is the expression I choose to use now."

On concerns raised by some analysts about the propensity of restructuring efforts leading to the disintegration of the nation, Mr. Soyinka dismissed the fear as unfounded.

"I don't know why people bother. Again, that is another ploy for sidetracking the issue. Nobody is talking about disuniting Nigeria," he said.

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