Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka on Thursday called for total decentralisation of Nigeria in order to bring about self-sufficiency and sustainable development.

Soyinka, who was the Guest Speaker at the Punch 50th Anniversary lecture said the word “Restructuring” refused to disappear, despite evasion by one elected leader after another.

“Of course, that word means different things for different people – just what is strange and unusual about that? Certain facts however, implicitly admit that the word has a number of common, pragmatic implications for both governance and the governed, that indisputable commonality being as follows: the present contraption is not working – neither economically, developmentally, or even as a material expression of any functional social philosophy.

“Another is that those who come in power have indulged in pretend exercises in that direction, engaging the populace in totally phoney exercises – obviously just to “pacify the natives”. It is surely time that this demand be taken seriously, and addressed head-on,” he said.

Soyinka argued that there is no shortage of reasoned and implementable propositions in past conference papers, including even sham, money-guzzling initiatives, summoned to distract attention from conspiracies for self-perpetuation in power.

“It is high time we stopped the cyclic distraction of re-inventing the wheel. The spokes are in place, the rims intact. Only the will, not the wheel, is missing in action. The Press, needless to urge has a crucial role to play in this! However, be it noted that the Press is only one of the enabling estates – all arms of governance, most pertinently, at state level, have a propulsive, even commanding role to play in the effort.

“Repeatedly, backed by constitutional authorities, both publicly and privately, we have pointed out to them that there is sufficient constitutional leeway in the present protocols of association – if I may quote myself unapologetically – to “push the envelope as far as it can go without actually bursting” – if the centre continues to shirk away from this now strident imperative. I repeat that wearisome call yet again. There can be no further evasion.

“That assertion is made both as a general principle of socio-political volition that is fundamental to any free, truly liberated people, and as informed response to the actualities in which we struggle to exist as a sentient people, responsive to the exigencies of daily manifestation of change.

“To anticipate accustomed banal responses, let me state quite clearly that no one has ever claimed that Decentralisation – a precise word I personally prefer – will end Hunger in the land or terminate religious conflicts and other forms of national malaise, no.

“We simply insist that this is central to the incomplete mission of – nation-being. It is essential to activities of basic existence such as food production, and access to such products.

“Palliatives remain crude, short term, stop-gap measures only. As a veteran of food security working conferences from Uganda to India, from Paris to Sochi, I insist that, for a nation to be food self-sufficient, and sustainably, decentralization is the key, not collectivisation,” 
Soyinka stated.

Soyinka said what he did at the lecture today was to simply point out, quite generally that, in addition to the nation’s current state of economic recession, more than one section is in a state of secession.

He argued that secession is not defined solely through geography, as there is also a secession of minds, independent of the merely geographical.

“It has become a pointless exercise to argue whether this is a positive or negative development. Both entail risks. What we can agree upon is whether or not a collective strategy can mitigate the negative consequences of either secessionist mode.

“Bearing in mind that scabbing over suppurating sores merely deepens the abscess, not miraculously heals it, It becomes irrelevant if such wounds are self-inflicted, opportunistic, self-indulged and pampered, largely imaginary – I think the medical expression is psychosomatic or – genuine wounds.

“We know the pattern – once programmed, sustained indoctrination set in, then, take it from me, the battle is over and the choices squeezed down below Ground Zero. Sectarian self-preservation then becomes paramount, with the very dire consequences that we had striven so hard to evade.

“Check the world wide over, and you discover that Nigeria is not a favoured child of History, indeed, it is more the abandoned foundling of the human race. Truth is now submerged within the blood stream of memory, not in the operations of the mind.

“Permit me to end with one of my extreme convictions – I call it extreme but it is nonetheless a product of history – including contemporary actualities – if you don’t believe me, just cast your gaze in the direction of Ukraine, of Gaza or the Horn of Africa. That conviction has weathered time and localities, and declares, quite simply: “Let nations die, that humanity may live!” he stated.