Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, says the 36 governors in Nigeria are too timid to demand state autonomy and push for the country’s restructuring.
He stated this on Saturday at the virtual 2021 Obafemi Awolowo Lecture with the theme, ‘Whither Nigeria?’
Soyinka said, “There is a consensus that this country whether in terms of governance, economic relations, security, educational policy, cultural policy, etc, that the country requires restructuring. Even the word restructuring has been restructured in many directions, in cogent expression which will mean the same thing for everybody.
“For me, for instance, I emphasised decentralisation, reconfiguration…We all know what we have now is not working, it’s obvious and we can’t continue along the same line and say that it will work, it is sign of madness.
“I want to make a plea to all governors, stop being so timid. Push this federal envelope as far as it can go, even while we undertake the technical aspect of restructuring whether in terms of dialogue, evolving the constitution or whatever, something has to go on, after all, we’ve had so many of these confabs.
“My plea is to governors to start with: You are charged with the immediate responsibility of the welfare of your own people in whatever term and if you study the constitution carefully, I have done this with lawyers, and it seems that a lot can be done at this moment.
“You need a season of greater autonomy for your own states and that is what I mean by pushing the federal envelope as far as it can go even with this impossible document that we have to cease what power, what authority you can derive from the constitution.
“Consult with your lawyers, I have consulted with mine and they also expressed the view that the governors are too timid, there is too much centralised mentality embedded in their minds and they are afraid to come out of their cocoons.
“Please remember that your primary responsibility is not the centre but the people, the state. So, take in your hands any form of authority that you can even from this constitution as it stands while we are working on a more honest, a more people-oriented constitution.”
Other speakers at the event include former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku; Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar; former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and ex-Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; former Deputy CBN Governor, Obadiah Mailafia, amongst others.