Wole Soyinka

The unity of Nigeria as a nation is an issue that must be debated in order to address lingering echoes of marginalisation, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka said on Friday.

“The claim that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable is a false statement,” Mr. Soyinka said. “The right of the people to determine their future is what is non-negotiable.”

The Nobel laureate’s comments came when he joined Governor Seriake Dickson to commission a new high school in Kaiama, Bayelsa State.

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The Ijaw National Academy, which has been running for four months, accommodates up to 1,000 students at the junior and senior secondary levels.

After a brief exchange with the students about his exploits as a renowned writer, Mr. Soyinka took a frontal aim at those who maintain that Nigeria must remain as currently constituted and her unity cannot be negotiated.

“Don’t tell me that Nigeria, as it is, is non-negotiable,” Mr. Soyinka said. “To me, that’s a fallacy.”
Some politicians and top government officials have recently asserted that Nigeria’s structure is not defective contrary to what advocates of restructuring hold.

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Two weeks ago, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo repeated the administration’s position on Nigeria as an entity.

“Our unity is not negotiable. We should make sure that we remain united in order to enjoy the resources God has blessed Nigeria with. So many nations envy what we have as a nation,” Mr. Osinbajo said while receiving Muslim leaders in the State House June 25.

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But Mr. Soyinka further disagreed with Mr. Osinbajo and other proponents of the status quo.

“Negotiation involves ensuring that there’s no marginalisation. Negotiation involves ensuring that the major components of the country are not feeding on the centre,” Mr. Soyinka said.

The professor said he believes in the unity of Nigeria, but warned those against restructuring to stop being ‘dogmatic and dictatorial’ in expressing their position.

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