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Wole Soyinka: Decentralisation will take government closer to the people

Wole Soyinka: Decentralisation will take government closer to the people
February 29
20:26 2024

Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, says decentralisation of the federal government power is the best way to maximise development in Nigeria. 

Soyinka spoke in Lagos on Thursday at a lecture held to mark the 50th anniversary of Punch Newspaper.

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

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

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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.

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“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.

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“Then, and you better just address this. Come straight on and see exactly what happened. What is wrong with general representatives seeing them and saying this is the protocol of our association, Anything outside of it?

“Anyone who does not want to accept these protocols, abide by these protocols and manifest these protocols in the act should take a walk. I have no problem at all.

“We live in what is known as the nation, beginning as a vast football field is ending up as a ping pong table. If that is going to restore dignity to citizens.

“If that is going to guarantee three square meals a day, then so be it. One of my favourite expressions with people is “Let nations die, that humanity may live.”

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