By KELVIN OSEMENE
NOBEL Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka set the tone in his key note address titled ‘The Mission, The Future’ which he delivered at the second South-South Economic Summit at Asaba, Delta State.
Expectedly, the hall filled to capacity, had the audience listening with rapt attention as the erudite scholar dished out his lecture
The knotty issue of balance of power and the restructuring of the federation did not come as a surprise to the people particularly in gathering of leaders and people of a geo-political zone that has always canvassed for true and fiscal federalism as a way out of the painful expropriation engendered by constitutional arrangement that leaves much to be desired.
The Nobel Laureate understood the mood and the sensibilities of the people. He knew as a matter of fact that South-South despite its role as the economic live wire of the Nigerian federation, had not much to show except, environmental problems foisted by the expropriatory activities of the petroleum merchants.
Prof. Soyinka knew that South-South in the days of yore boasted of robust human and material resources that kept the region bubbling with a buoyant economy and the people playing formidable role in the political chessboard of the nation
He was equally aware that the nation recorded more eye-catching landmarks when regions were allowed to control their resources and develop according to their own pace not dictated by the overbearing influence of a very strong centralized government
The erudite scholar was also aware of the consequences of the water-tight centralization a product of military regimes into mere pantomimes and appendages of the Federal Government.
Prior to the military incursion, the northern region boasted of the groundnut pyramid, the south including the South-South derived stupendous wealth from palm produce, coal, timber and various food crops that that not only formed the building blocks of a vibrant economy but made the region self-reliant
The west not only boasted of cocoa but established a strong regional tie among its constituents following which it became the envy of many other regions in the federation.
Soyinka, a citizen of South-West Nigeria, having seen the power and benefits of regional intergrity, co-operation and resource control in a decentralized federation, therefore, meant what he said when he suggested that the way out of the present downturn of the economy and paucity of development could be located in regional autonomy and decentralization of the structure of the federation so as to clothe the regions with more responsibilities .
According to the Nobel Laureate, the overbearing influence of the central government has made it impossible for the constituent states to aspire to greater heights making development very difficult.
Soyinka further suggested that there should be no need for calls for national dialogue, maintained that stronger regions would take the nation to the next level.
The suggestion by the erudite scholar could as well be the panacea to the present economic, social and political malaise in the country.
The prevailing security challenges posed by the Boko Haram for instance, may become a thing of the past if the Federal Government had focused more on security leaving some other matters for the states to handle.
Will the Soyinka formular make the magic? Only time will tell.