Restructuring Nigeria long overdue – Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka on Monday declared that Nigeria is ripe for restructuring, even as he said it was disheartening for some people to be agitating against it or saying that Nigerians only needed to restructure their mind and not the country.

It would be recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had a few days back said Nigerians rather than calling for restructuring of the country should restructure their minds.

Soyinka stated this while speaking with journalists at the Freedom Park on Lagos Island, Lagos, saying those who said what Nigeria needed was just a restructuring of the mind were economical with the truth.

“My position is that people should not allow themselves to be put off by those who tried to cheapen the expression; As I said when visited by the Women Arise the other day, it doesn’t matter what name you called it, we all know that this nation was deconstructed and what we live in right now as a nation is no longer a structure that expresses the true will that we love Nigeria to be.

“So when people use words like restructuring, reconfiguring, you can call it reconfiguration, you can call it return to status quo, you can call it reformulating the protocol of association, you can use those long words, but you can use a single word like restructuring, it doesn’t matter, everybody knows what we are talking about,” Soyinka said.

According to Soyinka, those who were speaking against the agitation for restructuring were diverting attention, saying: “There are those who try to divert direct attention away from the main issue by mounting platitudes, clichés like it is the mind that needs restructuring, you know who I am talking to?

“This is a constant process of restructuring the mind is both an individual exercise as well as theological exercise, people go to church and mosque to have their mind restructured. They go to school, they go to extra-mural classes to have their mind restructured.

“Restructuring the mind is not the issue, nobody is saying the exercise of restructuring them should not be undertaken, anybody who indulges in self-examination is already engaging in mind restructuring.

“I find it very dishonest and cheap, time selling, trivialising the issues when I hear the expression that it is the mind which needs to be restructured, who is arguing it, who is denying that? It is not a substitute, why are you bringing it up? We are talking about the protocol of association of the constituting part of a nation, we are talking about decentralisation, that is another word.

“This country is over-centralised and that has been the burg bare of development, even on issues like security for decade, so individuals should not now try and sidetrack the issue and say concentrate on that rather than this. Are you saying that you cannot reconstruct the mind and reconstruct the nation at the same time? My take on it and my express advice to the citizenry is that they should not allow themselves to be sidetracked. Call it whatever name, what we are saying is that this nation is long-overdue for reconfiguration. That is the expression I chose to use now,” the Nobel Laureate said.

Speaking on agitations in some quarters for President Muhammadu Buhari’ second term, Soyinka said, “Why are we talking about second term for heaven sake. I don’t understand this. We have hardly gone half-way or barely gone half-way and people are already talking about positions. I refuse to be part of that discussion and absolutely refused to be part of that discussion.”

On the achievement of the present administration in office, the Nobel Laureate said there were some yarning gaps, pointing to areas of security and economy.

“Just take security for instance, the average citizens feel less secured now than it did few years ago. That is evident. When people talk about state police, there are reasons for that; when they talk about bringing policing right down to the community level, they know what they are talking about.

“This is part and parcel of reconfiguring or reconstruction. The economy, there is a big question on it right now. Fortunately, everybody admits that we went through a very bad patch. Right now, is the question of have we come out of it or not? In fact, there is no question about it, the past few years have been years of internal economic disasters for the average citizens, but it is a question of who laid the seed? When and where and how were the seeds laid for the agony this nation is going through the last few years?” he queried.

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