Hardship: Soyinka Urges Govt At All Level To desist From Taking Citizens As Fools


LAGOS MARCH 1ST (NEWSRANGERS)-Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has urged government at all levels to desist from taking citizens as fool so as to bridge the gap between leaders and the led.

Soyinka, who was a guest speaker at The Punch 50th anniversary lecture, themed ‘Recovering the Narrative,’ insisted that the government ought to be close to the people.

His words: “It’s about time leaders stop taking us for a ride so that the government can come close to the people.

“We don’t want the nation to break, the nation is breaking informally. Let nations die so that humanity may live. I don’t like to use the word restructuring.

“Politicians understand the terms when they are not in office but turn to something else when they assume office. It is the same thing with reconstruction, and it is time to look into it because it is not a slogan.”

According to the Nobel Laureate, decentralisation of the federal government power is the best way to maximise development in Nigeria.

He said Nigerian leaders “recognise the importance” of decentralisation “until they get into power” and abandon it.

He added that “palliatives are temporary stop-gap policies that do not reach the heart of the problem” noting that only “decentralised development” can help.

Soyinka added that decentralisation will bring power closer to the people noting that “productivity can really be manifested as a product of citizens, not simply as a manna from heaven”.

“What do you mean by restructuring? Well, I don’t even like the word restructuring. I use, I prefer expressions like reconfiguration and decentralisation,” he said.

“Everybody can grasp that, decentralisation. And those who lead, recognise the necessity of it. They recognise the importance, almost the inevitability of it until they get into power, yes, that’s the difference.

“Reconfiguration, decentralisation, all these are necessary to maximise development. We speak about food hunger, which is real, but palliatives are temporary stop-gap policies that do not reach the heart of the problem, which is why we must decentralise development as massively as possible.

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

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

“I know the fear. The fear is collapse, break up. That’s been the excuse given by several regimes. But suppose the nation is breaking up informally, in other words, as a fact rather than as a theory.”

In his remarks, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Muhammed Idris Malagi, while commending Soyinka’s fatherly role in nation-building, noted that the President Bola Tinubu-led government had always been pro-active in policies that would help mitigate the suffering of Nigerians.

He said: “Punch has been here for 50 years, and what that tells you is that it’s a story of resilience, trust, hard work, and commitment to the Nigeria project. These are the exact virtues President Tinubu upholds.

“Nigeria is going through hard times now, but it’s not new and it’s not peculiar to this country. All the issues we are discussing now are issues other countries are discussing. A few weeks ago, we heard that the United Kingdom had gone into an economic recession. President Tinubu has taken very bold steps.

“The first day after his assumption of office, he took away fuel subsidy. Before he assumed office, the economy was a dead horse standing. So whether fuel subsidy is removed or not, the economy is going to be challenging. He ensured that the fuel subsidy went away for the benefit of all. “We knew from day one that it’s not going to be an easy sail but we are seeing the effects of the decision, and the good story is that the government is taking very pro-active decisions to ensure that we turn the corner and Nigeria’s economy bounce back again. These things happening are for the good of the country, and the economy is going to bounce back. We foresee a situation where, in another year, this country is going to get better.

Let’s talk about the good things happening in this country, it’s not bad news all the time. The National Bureau of Statistics said we are improving by about 66 per cent.

“Our fuel consumption has gone down by about a billion litres. These challenges will continue to exist but the important thing is that the government will always take proactive measures to ensure that the challenges disappear. Very soon, we are going to have a major policy shift in the petroleum sector.

“The NLC has complained about hardship in the land but we are happy that 24 hours later they also found it necessary to suspend that action. The 15-point demand NLC made, most of them are being met.”

While appreciating participants at the lecture, Punch Chairman, Mrs. Angela Omoshalewa, noted that the essence of the topic is a call to action and should not be taken lightly.

“We want to help change the narrative, and we hope that our next 50 years will help change the narrative,” she said.


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