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!