A former Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Chief Arthur Mbanefo, on Thursday, joined the league of Nigerians canvassing the restructuring of the country.
Mbanefo, who said restructuring the country was not secession, also warned the Federal Government against negotiating with dissent groups and insurgents, such as the Niger Delta Avengers.
The former envoy spoke in Lagos on the 71st birthday of the Presiding Bishop of the Redeemed Evangelical Mission, Dr. Mike Okonkwo, where a former Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Frank Nweke, and the Executive Director of the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, were guest lecturers.
The lecture titled “The State of the Nigerian Nation: Redefining our Values”, also witnessed the presentation of awards to the winners of this year’s Bishop Okonkwo Annual Essay Competition for Nigerian Secondary Schools.
Mbanefo, who added that the country was in “utter confusion”, regretted that many Nigerians were not conversant with the term “restructuring”.
He said, “Clearly, many Nigerians do not understand what the issues are about restructuring. Why can we not sit down and discuss how to live as a people? Nothing says that we cannot sit down and talk on how to govern the country. This does not mean secession. We can have a national discourse, for example, on how to improve ourselves. The erosion of our value system also contributes to the confusion in the country.
“We, therefore, need to do more to redefine our value system. We need to overhaul the foundation of the pillars of the nation. We must be courageous to accept that we cannot go on as if nothing has changed. If we do not want to continue with the disasters in the country, all that we need as a people is the will to change things.”
The former diplomat, while urging the Federal Government not to negotiate with the insurgents, said they were committing treasonable acts against the state.
The octogenarian added, “How do you negotiate with traitors, such as (the Niger Delta) Avengers, that are bombing and destroying national facilities? You do not take up arms against your nation, destroying its facilities.
“The (the Niger Delta) Avengers, Boko Haram and other similar groups should not dictate the pace for the country. These people are committing treason. It is high time we became serious citizens. We should stop deceiving ourselves if we want to move forward.”
Nweke, who also called for restructuring, said it would help to foster accountability and development in the polity.
He said, “I support a political and economic system that will devolve power to the regions on mutually agreeable terms. This will lead to greater accountability and faster economic development. I support a decentralised police system that will empower the security architecture of the states to respond faster and better to the realities of our security situation today. I support the entrenchment of a system that will place a higher premium on citizenship rather than indigeneship.”
The former minister, who also frowned on the activities of the insurgents and other deviant acts in society, urged parents to be more responsive to their roles.
Nweke added, “The men and women, who sired those kids failed them. The state failed them. I make no excuse for insurgency of any kind by any group in any part of the country. I condemn the destruction of human lives and property in every part of the country and in the world. It is what you sow that you reap.”