LAGOS—NOBEL Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, yesterday, lampooned President Muhammadu Buhari over his alleged refusal to obey court orders, describing it as a national embarrassment.
Soyinka spoke as many prominent Nigerians called for the restructuring of the country as a way out of the present challenges against the unity of the country.
They spoke at the Handshake Across Nigeria summit titled: ‘Nigeria beyond oil’, organised by Nzuko Umunna and The Core Federalists, which took place in Lagos.
The summit was graced by prominent Nigerians, among whom were the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo; former Foreign Affairs Minister, Maj-Gen Ike Nwachukwu (retd); Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Prof. Anya O. Anya, Young Progressive Party, YPP, presidential candidate, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu among others.
Soyinka, in his presentation, upbraided the administration’s failure to obey court orders particularly on the cases involving Shi’ite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzakky and erstwhile National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd).
His words: “Forgiveness is a virtue. Although, I have the same temperament with my late friend, Tai Solarin, but it is a national embarrassment that our President has refused to obey laws. Citizens should not be the one to choose the laws to obey.
“We want the government to understand that they are part of the community and have been given a mission of carrying out the will of the people. When we talk about governance, we are talking about an instrument for the execution of people’s policy. Insecurity has reached a certain level that even when we bring experts in they wonder what exactly they have come to do. They are given a certain problem to solve, and when they arrived here they meet another problem.
“One way of stopping the bloodbath is to reconfigure the nation. States must be given maximum control over their resources. There are some, who prefer to grow rice, there are others who prefer to grow religion and we know where religion has taken us today.
Some people will like to say, it is not really religion that has gotten us to where we are, I agree with you; but some people have manipulated religion to suit their purpose. The effect of those who manipulated it is disastrous. If some people prefer to grow rice, and others to grow Sharia, then, both sides should be given the means to develop.
“Those insisting on restructuring do so because they know that there is something wrong with the state of Nigeria. Many times, Nigerians have come together to proffer solutions and the way forward for the country, but after spending so much time and effort, nothing ever comes out of it. The recommendations are left to gather dust. How much longer shall we continue like this?”
Nwachukwu canvasses return to old regions
Nwachukwu, who was the chairman of the occasion, cautioned that Nigeria could only reap the benefits of its potentials through a return to the old regions.
Nwachukwu said: “As we prepare for the elections, it is pertinent to remind members of the INEC that theirs is a sacred trust. Though appointed by the government, they are responsible to the people of Nigeria. To make INEC truly independent, there is the need to review the system of appointing its members.”
Nwodo chides opponents of restructuring
Ohanaeze President, Chief Nwodo, in his speech, said: “Those campaigning against restructuring in Nigeria have painted an unfortunate and untrue picture that those of us in support of restructuring are doing so in order to deny the northern states, who have not yet any proven oil reserves of the ability to survive. This is unfortunate. The new model we propose for Nigeria recognizes that revenue in the world today is promoted by two main sources namely, human capital development leveraging on technology to drive the critical sectors of the economy and agriculture.
“Nigeria beyond oil must contemplate the implementation of legislative independence to the federating units, sovereignty of mineral and oil resources to the federating units, a painstaking resolve to support all electoral processes and candidates that would bring about this change.”
Adebanjo harps on restructuring
A chieftain of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Chief Adebanjo, expressed shock at the differences in opinion shared by President Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
Adebanjo said: “It is unfortunate that both President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo do not understand each other as regards restructuring. I do not know why the Vice President, who is a Professor of Law, does not know what it entails.
“If you do not restructure, the country would break up. If you say that the unity of the country is non-negotiable, then you do not have a choice than to restructure.”
We won’t decide for people — NEF boss
The Director-General of the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, Yima Sen, however, differred saying: “As a group, the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, has met several times with the northern governors and the northern traditional rulers over the issue of restructuring and discussions are still ongoing. But one thing we have decided is that we are going to dialogue with our people and know what they want. Most often, the elites push an agenda because they think that is what those they are leading want and they usually do it out of pride and arrogance.
“We need to move from the level of sentiments to the scientific. It is important that when such important issues are discussed, the elites should be humble enough to ask their people what they want and that is what we are doing. We are not going to decide for our people whether they want restructuring or not. We are going to ask them and listen to what they have to say.”