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Nigeria started as vast football field but ending up as ping pong table – Soyinka



Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday, stated that Nigeria needs to be decentralized for Nigerians to enjoy the country more.

Soyinka made the case for decentralization on Thursday at the PUNCH Newspapers’ 50th-anniversary lecture held at the Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The lecture, delivered by the Nobel laureate, is part of the weeklong activities marking the 50th anniversary of PUNCH.

Delivering his lecture titled ‘Recovering the Narrative,’ Soyinka said the country should consider breaking up if it would solve the country’s challenges.

The elder statesman emphasized that decentralization would allow governance to get closer to the people, adding that it was high time for leaders to stop taking Nigerians for granted.

He explained that while Nigerian politicians understand the importance of restructuring, they often change their stance when in power.

Soyinka stated, “What do you mean by restructuring? Well, I don’t even like the word restructuring. I prefer expressions like reconfiguration and decentralization. Everybody can grasp that, decentralization. And those who lead, recognize the necessity of it. They understand the importance, almost the inevitability of it until they assume power, then the narrative changes.

“It’s about time, I think leaders stopped taking this nation for granted, you know, we must decentralize. Security has become a burden to bear from all corners of the nation, that is the reality.

“Decentralize so that government can come closer to the people, and productivity can truly be manifested as a product of citizens, not simply as a manna from heaven. That is the prevailing attitude at the moment.

“I understand the fear. The fear is of collapse, of breaking up. That’s been the excuse given by several regimes. But suppose the nation is informally breaking up, in other words, as a fact rather than a theory. Then, we must address this directly. Come straight on and see exactly what is happening. What is wrong with representatives of the people seeing them and saying this is the protocol of our association? Anything outside of it? Anyone who does not want to accept these protocols, abide by these protocols, and act according to these protocols should leave. I have no problem at all.

“We live in a nation that started as a vast football field but is now ending up as a ping pong table. If that is going to restore dignity to citizens, if that is going to guarantee three square meals a day, then so be it. One of my favorite expressions with people is ‘Let nations die, that humanity may live.’”