Soyinka wants Nigerians to drop calls for national conference

Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, has urged Nigerians to drop lingering clamour for a national conference, saying it is no longer necessary in view of emerging democratic liberties.
In place of the conference, he called for regional groupings, which would, rather than summon it, begin to “act the national conference’’ by taking their destinies in their hands.
Mr. Soyinka spoke in Asaba on Thursday, while delivering a Keynote Address at the opening of a two-day South-South Economic Summit.
He said that it is time for the region to engage in policies and strategies of development that would progressively reduce the central government’s powers to determine the “fate” of the people.
He said that the Federal Government is impeding the pace of development of the constituent parts and noted that only vibrant regional groupings can moderate its over-bearing disposition.
Mr. Soyinka commended the South-South states for the initiative of the summit and for establishing the BRACED Commission for the region.
He challenged other regions to tread that part in order to hasten the decentralization of federal governance.
“The constitutional ‘envelope’ that currently holds the parts together should be pushed as far as possible, without it actually bursting, leading to a vibrant competition and collaboration among its constituent parts.
“Each regional grouping should, by its policies, declare an uncompromising developmental autonomy.
“This will leave the centre only with its competence provenance of foreign policy, national security and inter-state affair,” Mr. Soyinka said.
The Nobel laureate urged each state in the country to convene its own conference of peoples to articulate in the direction they wished to direct their leaders and relate to the centre and other states.
According to him, Nigeria has proved to be too large and inefficient for a centralised identification and management of its human skills and material resources.
“There should be no further calls for a national conference. Let each regional grouping with compatible ideas of the ultimate mission, begin to call the shots and relegate the centre to its rightful dimensions.
“Let each regional grouping and its member states single-mindedly project and pursue their strategies for the enhancement of the quality of life and the dignity of their people.
“Let them quarry into their resources to extract the material required for their very existence, material that they can exchange among one another based on their spatial developmental advantages.
“In short, they should share among themselves, areas of specialisation, substituting strength for the weakness of their partners, expertise for deficiencies in one member or the other, Mr. Soyinka said.
He added that now is the time to put into practice the ancient saying that “small is beautiful”, adding that that Nigeria must return to the early days of creative regional rivalry.
Mr. Soyinka admonished the South-South governors to ensure that BRACED Commission is sustained and made a great legacy for their people.

He said that the foresight of the governors for the regional initiative would not be immediately appreciated.

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