Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has described campaigns for 2019 general elections as premature.
The Professor of Comparative Literature said it is too early for the country to begin to talk about the next election when the incumbent is two years into his first term.
In response to the recent clamour for a second term in office for President Muhammadu Buhari by some loyalists and supporters, Soyinka expressed shock over the development.
He said this at the Freedom Park, Lagos, yesterday, where he unveiled 10 Nigerian writers who would be leaving for Lebanon, in a cultural exchange programme, The Sail Project, between The Wole Soyinka Foundation and Cedar Institute, University of Lebanon.
“Why are we talking about a second term for heaven’s sake? I don’t understand this. We have hardly gone half-way or barely gone half-way and people are already talking about positions.
“I refuse to be part of that discussion and absolutely refuse to be part of that discussion,” Soyinka said.
The laureate also reiterated the need to restructure Nigeria and declared it was wrong for anyone to agitate against it.
Soyinka who noted that restructuring of the mind could be done on a daily basis, further added that, “when people use words like restructuring, reconfiguring, you can call it reconfiguration, you can call it return to status quo, you can call it reformulating the protocol of association, you can use those long words, but, you can use a single word like restructuring, it doesn’t matter. Everybody knows what we are talking about.
“Number two, there are those who try to divert direct attention away from the main issues by mounting platitudes, cliches like it is the mind that needs restructuring, you know who I am about. This constant process of restructuring the mind is both an individual exercise as well as theological exercise. People go to churches and mosques to have their mind restructured; they go to school, they go to extra-mural classes to have their mind restructured. Restructuring the mind is not the issue, nobody is saying the exercise of restructuring the mind should not be undertaken; anybody who indulges in self-examination is already engaging in mind restructuring.
“I find it very dishonest and cheap; time selling, trivializing the issues, when I hear the expression that it is the mind which needs to be restructured. Who is arguing it? Who is denying that? It is not a substitute, why are you bringing it up?
“We are talking about the protocol of association of the constituting part of a nation, we are talking about decentralization, that is another word.
“This country is over-centralised…So, individuals should not now try and sidetrack the issue and say concentrate on that rather than this. Are you saying that you cannot reconstruct the mind and reconstruct the nation at the same time?
“My take on it and my express advice to the citizenry is that they should not allow themselves to be sidetracked. Call it whatever name, what we are saying is that this nation is long-overdue for reconfiguration. That is the expression I chose to use now.”
Soyinka was also of the view that it was wrong for president Buhari to say the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. He noted that it was another was another attempt to ‘sweep the issue under the carpet,’ and insisted that no one talked about dismembering the country.
“We know there are movements for secession; let Buhari and others go and address this separately. This should not be mixed with the demand of a nation for reconfiguration. People should stop answering the demand for secession by pretending to answer the demand for reconfiguration.