Only restructuring can save Nigeria from disintegration- Soyinka

Only an urgent restructuring of the country could save it from its current woes and imminent disintegration, Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has said. He said Nigeria as a nation had entered a critical era where restructuring and diversification of the nation’s sources of revenue had become inevitable.
Soyinka spoke yesterday in a keynote address at an event: “Handshake across Nigeria: Towards a productive Nigeria,’’ organised by a group of concerned Nigerians to chart a roadmap for the nation’s political stability. The event held at the shell Hall Onikan, Lagos state under the theme “Nigeria beyond oil.’’
Soyinka lamented the refusal by the current Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to implement the 2014 Constitutional Conference report, which according to him proffered solutions to most of the current challenges bedevilling the country.
In the run-up to the 2019 general elections, there have been strident calls for the restructuring of the Nigerian federal system. Most of the calls have come from groups in the South East, South-South, South West and North Central geopolitical zones of the country. The pro-restructuring groups have called for  a return to the former regional structure and for the regions to control their resources. However, the present government has said it is opposed to the calls, insisting that those asking for restructuring are looking for an opportunity to destabilise the country.
Soyinka faulted the current structure of the country and its mono-economy style, stressing that there was an urgent need for powers to be devolved to regions, while each region should be encouraged to develop it resources and pay royalties to the federal government.
“How much longer are we going to wait to devolve this power?  It is obvious that the current system is not working and something urgent must be done or we would find ourselves where we don’t want,’’ Soyinka warned.
The Nobel Laureate pointed out that Nigerians have a right to determine what they want. He notedt that nothing came out the 2014 Constitutional Conference as well the activities of RONANCO  “ because some people think otherwise” Soyinka.’’
Also speaking at the event, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, disagreed with insinuations that some states in the country were not viable, and pointed out that each state had natural resources which could be tapped if the country was restructured and powers devolved  to the regions, while Nigeria places less emphasis on oil.
Presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, promised to restructure the country if elected president in next year’s presidential election. He said his administration would allow each region to tap its potentials, and noted that the current structure of the country is faulty. According to him, most of the states were created on tribal lines.
But the convener of Northern Elder’s Forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, who was represented at the event, disagreed with the Southern leaders’ clamour for restructuring of the country, stressing that the current agitation had been hijacked by some section of elite in the country to promote their self-interests.
“The country has always restructured and we made that in 1963 after the change of the Constitution,’’ Abdullahi said. Since then, he said there have been other changes in the structure of the country, for instance, the geo-political zones which the country didn’t have before, he said.
Iniobong Iwok
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