David-West Right, Soyinka Wrong

David-West Right, Soyinka Wrong


A professor of virology and former petroleum resources minister, Tam David-West, was right when he said that a nation’s “sovereignty” cannot be negotiated. In an interview with Daily Sun of Nigeria, he corrected Professor Wole Soyinka’s statement that Nigeria’s sovereignty was negotiable.

Although Soyinka is a Nobel laureate and a professor of English literature, he is not above mistakes. He should use the opportunity of his 82nd birth anniversary today to thank David-West for pointing out the error. For, indeed, sovereignty is non-negotiable  — a state is either sovereign or not.

What Nigerians attacking President Muhammadu Buhari [who said Nigerian unity was not negotiable] mean to say is that the way they live together is negotiable — modus vivendi, David-West called it. Nigeria is crying for restructuring in all spheres, but “sovereignty” is absolute.

Prof. David-West, in the interview, also pointed out another mistake contained in America’s Constitution that has remained unchanged for 200 years: “…in order to have a more perfect union…”  Again, nothing is “more perfect”!

Words’ meanings do change. And common sense helps us to communicate better. The mistakes David-West has pointed out are comparable to a line in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” More equal? Of course, we understand what Orwell means!


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  1. Methinks Wole Soyinka and Tam David-West are two sides of a coin. When I reflect on their demagoguery, especially concerning how the present APC government came about with all the empty promises and lack of ideas, I cannot but wish that professorship and the Nobel should have expiry dates an initio. The two men may have had immense talents at a time but their current roles in the politics of our country are uncalled for. They are determined to ruin everybody and everything to remain relevant with the new power mongers. I don’t even want to hear what they want to say in their bid to continue to distract public attention from the sorry state of affairs we find ourselves.