Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Missing (TREM), Mike Okonkwo, has warned that there would be violence if the National Assembly fails to revisit the issue of restructuring the nation and give it a chance.
He gave the warning when he spoke to journalists shortly after the grand finale of the 2017 Leading Edge Conference in Abuja.
According to him, there is a limit to which members of the National Assembly can reject the people’s agitation.
He maintained that as long as lawmakers keep rejecting the idea of restructuring, Biafra agitators will keep creating problems.
The cleric said: “When it’s the season for something, you can’t hold back the season. There has never been so much agitation for restructuring as like it is now. Even those who had hitherto been indifferent to it and never touched it are now beginning to touch it.
“That’s an indication that the hour has come and I believe with all my heart that if this nation is restructured, it will help us to be creative. It will take us faster than we expected. It would make even those that are in politics to be creative because what most of them are doing is to go cap in hand, run to Abuja and collect money and squander it and nothing is happening.
“But now, your people will demand accountability, competition would be all over the place. If I’ve seen result in Kebbi State, Sokoto and Zamfara, and I’m supposed to be in Niger and no result, I would ask my Governor what is it this person is doing differently that you’re not doing? Same thing applies to the East. It will bring real competition, heavy competition for development in different parts of this country.
“To be honest with you, I feel ashamed sometimes to answer being a Nigerian in the sense that this nation is highly endowed in human and material resources. We have what it takes to be a giant amongst comity of nations, not just in Africa but amongst the nations of the world. But look at where we are. Other nations have moved on.
“We read in the Newspapers how Dubai in 2020 would not be using petrol again. In other words, their petrol stations would be shut down. What they would have, would be recharge stations and the cars would move by electricity, and we are still talking about oil. So, there’s an issue. We need to restructure. For me, anybody who refuses restructuring is an enemy of this country.
“It is possible if our lawmakers, those in the National Assembly would give it a chance. When they say no, then there would be violence because people want it. They better soft- pedal and know that they are to serve the people and not themselves.
“Once that is done, there would be no violence. No one wants war more especially if you have experienced it once. That is why most of our young people who are agitating for war, I keep telling them, calm down, you don’t understand war, if you understand war, you will not ask for it . Everything can be resolved on the table.
“We don’t have to go to war. In a war, you can lose everything you have in a day; everything you have labored for from the day you were born. In a day, everything is lost. In a war, you can lose your entire family. And so, we’ve done that in the 1960s to 70s and we know what the cost is. We shouldn’t do that, let’s give peace a chance.
“I believe they (National Assembly) will still go back to the issue of restructuring. There is a limit to which you can reject the people’s agitation. As long as they’re rejecting it, there will still be pressure groups, people will still be talking, the Biafran people will still be creating problems, and when it becomes a national issue, they would be forced to address it.
“So, for me, I think that’s the best thing to do, not to run from it. If the people in the National Assembly care for the people, why are they afraid of restructuring? What’s wrong with restructuring and letting every state develop at its own pace and contribute to the center? What’s wrong in that? That was how the regions were operating before.
“The Western, Northern Region, and Eastern Region, and all of them were progressing with Groundnut, Cocoa, Coal and Palm oil. We were able to build Universities, our rails and other facilities were working. Is it because we discovered oil and everyone is running into oil that things are not working as it should?
“For me, any person in the National Assembly saying there should be no restructuring is there to service his belly, he is not serving the nation.”