Nigeria’s literary icon and Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, on Friday disagreed with the position held by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other Nigerians who claim that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.
The non-negotiability of Nigeria has remained the positions of different administrations in the past including the President Muhammadu Buhari-led current Federal Government.
Following agitation for Biafra by some groups in the South East, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has continuously made it clear that Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable.
On June 25, he had while addressing Muslim leaders in the State House said, “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.”
But speaking in Bayelsa on Friday, Soyinka argued that the unity of Nigeria as a nation is an issue that must be debated so as to address lingering issues of marginalization.
He said, “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 was in Bayelsa to join the state governor, Seriake Dickson, in the commissioning of a new high school, Ijaw National Academy, in Kaiama, Bayelsa State.
Soyinka who listened with rapt attention as one of the female students recited one of his poems “Abiku,” later had a brief exchange with the students on his exploits as a renowned writer.
Afterwards, Soyinka lashed out at those insisting that Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable.
He said, “Don’t tell me that Nigeria, as it is, is non-negotiable. To me, that’s a fallacy.
“Negotiation involves ensuring that there’s no marginalisation. Negotiation involves ensuring that the major components of the country are not feeding on the centre.”
Reiterating his belief in the unity of Nigeria, Professor Soyinka cautioned against opposition to the mounting demand for the restructuring of Nigeria.
He said those against restructuring should stop being ‘dogmatic and dictatorial ‘in their stand.