For the second time in two months, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, yesterday took ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to the cleaners for allegedly belittling the clamour for the restructuring of Nigeria.
Soyinka had in July fired barbs at Obasanjo for saying restructuring was akin to breaking up the country.
That was at a colloquium entitled: ‘A day with the Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka and Ijaw literary icons,’ held at the Ijaw National Academy, Kaiama, Bayelsa State on July 14, 2017.
Again, yesterday Soyinka tore his kinsman apart at a press conference in Lagos on the sides of the unveiling of the second batch of students leaving for Lebanon under the aegis of the Study Abroad In Lebanon Programme by The Cedars Institute, Lebanon, in collaboration with The Wole Soyinka Foundation.
Obasanjo had during a visit to the palace of the Olu of Warri, His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli, on July 7, 2017 said what Nigeria needs is a restructuring of the people’s mindset.
Reacting to complaints by the palace chief, Benson Mene, that the Itsekiri people were being marginalised in the system of things in Nigeria, Obasanjo said in part: “The answer to most of our problems is mindset change and change of mentality. If we need any restructuring, it is the restructuring of our mindset and mentality.”
Soyinka was livid at the thoughts expressed by Obasanjo, whom he did not refer to by name on both occasions. He stated that such comments were aimed at diverting attention from the real issues.
He said: “Like I said when I visited the Women Arise (For Change Initiative) the other day, it doesn’t matter by what name you call it. We all know what we are talking about. We all know that this nation was deconstructed and that what we live in right now as a nation is not along a structure that expresses the true will of Nigerians.
“So, when people use words like ‘restructuring, reconfiguring or call it reconfiguration, return to status quo, or call it reformulating the protocols of our association or used a single word like restructuring, it doesn’t matter. Everybody knows what we are talking about. That is number one.
“Also, there are those who try to divert the attention away from the main issue by mouthing platitudes, clichés like it is the mind that needs restructuring. You know those I am referring to.
“This is a constant process — restructuring the mind. It is both an individual exercise as well as a theological exercise. People go to church and mosque to have their minds restructured. They go to school and extramural classes to have their minds restructured. Restructuring the mind is not the issue.
“Nobody is saying that the exercise of restructuring the mind should not be undertaken; it should be undertaken. Anybody who indulges in self-examination is already engaging in an exercise of mental and attitudinal reconstruction. We know that. People shouldn’t try to substitute one for the other.
“I find it very dishonest and cheap time-serving, trivialising the issue when I hear expressions like ‘it is the mind that needs to be restructured.’ Who is arguing or denying that? Why bring it up? Why is it a substitute?
“We are talking about the protocols of association of the constitutive parts of a nation. We are talking of decentralisation. That is another word. This country is over-centralised.
“Are you saying we cannot reconstruct the mind and reconstruct the nation at the same time? Call it by whatever name. We are saying that this nation is long overdue for reconfiguring. That is the expression I choose to use now.”