The Sun News

The key is restructuring, not disintegration – Bishop Mike Okonkwo

By Christy Anyanwu

The Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) Dr. Mike Okonkwo last Wednesday clocked 72 years old.  To celebrate the cleric’s birthday, the ‘18th annual Bishop Mike Okonkwo lecture’ took place at Muson Centre Onikan Lagos with theme: Made n Nigeria Products: The Vehicle For Sustainable Development. After the lecture, which was  delivered by Dr. Mrs Nike Akande, President, the Lagos Chamber Of Commerce and Industry and former Minister of Industry of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bishop Okonkwo spoke to the Sunday Sun about  various issues , including restructuring and the present state of the nation. Excerpts

Its your birthday, would you say this is the Nigeria of your dream?

Of course it is a joy to always see another year. No one should take life for granted. The fact that God is keeping us alive does not mean that is how it is. There are people who are of my age group who are incapacitated, some of them are died and gone, some of them are in the hospital. if God has kept me alive, for me , it is a blessing, which I don’t think I deserve. It is His mercy and  grace that has sustain me.

There’s echo of disintegration in the country, what is your take on that?

I don’t think disintegration is the key, the key is restructuring. Nigeria should restructure. I have said this in different forum, anyone who is altering the restructuring of this country is an enemy of Nigeria, he is not sincere, he is not  honest and he’s saying so because of what he’s  personally gaining.The true position, the truth to be be told, restructuring is the way to go. Is that restructuring is the way to go and it will be  in the interest of all Nigerians.

The word restructuring is so amorphous, whats the … of the word?

Like  we used to have before the coup in 1966, we used to have leaders like Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo , these guys depended on groundnuts, they built universities, built schools, Awolowo depended on cocoa and built the cocoa house, built the  TV house and University, Nnamdi Azikwe  depended on coal, kernel and oil and built what he built. if these people could build what they built when we have not discovered so much oil , i think that if every region or zone or whatever you call it is allowed to develop their nation it will move for healthy competition , it will help in development in different area and people will be better off for it, more employment  will be created and there will be security for people.

What therefore would you say to Nnamdi Kanu who is threatening to boycot the Anambra elections?

If I happen to meet this young man which I desire sincerely, I will advise him that he should connect  to the young people of Arewa group, connect with the Oduduwa group because all these people are agitating, connect with the youths of Niger delta and they should now serve a note of warning to our political class,  because these our political class are cabals who don’t want nigerians to move forward. They should understand that their future is being mortgaged. This is not about having a geographical kind of thing. They should not shoot for that, they should shoot for how can we better this country based on our unity. I believe that we can achieve more than dividing. To build a country, a lot of things are involve.  its not like you just wake up and go to the market and buy, there are so many things involved. That means we keep on suffering for so many years, which I don’t want.  I would rather that we start  with restructuring and  lets see how it goes  and then we see whether we can now stay together.

 

Whats your advice to Buhari incase you see him face to face?

we should not use violence. the other day, i saw in the news, i don’t know if its the social media, i saw  a moving armoured vehicles and troops into the south east. that is not the way to go when agitations like this come. these are not the days you use force or intimidation on people, because people are ready to die. we should go to the the table. take for instance the appointment in NNPC, who will not agitate? these are reasons why people agitate.You can’t give 10 to the north, three to the  southwest, two to the south south and nothing to the east and you want them to sleep and you want Nnamdi Kanu not to talk again.?  At times, i ask myself who are the people giving these advice, why are they giving these advice?

i just also heard the approval of a  rail road from Kano to Daura, what is the economic benefit of that rail road? we understand the one from Kaduna to Abuja, at least people who live in kaduna  can work in Abuja but this one, show me the economic benefits of spending such billions to develop rail road from kano to aura. the states that generate these funds we don’t even have roads that connect them, how much more airport, even the asana airport was built by state not federal government, the staters that really generates these money don’t have roads, they don’t have airport and you want them not to agitate? at times, i say to myself,  is somebody working on peoples mind in the federal government, for me i will tell him that such things are not acceptable.

What informs your choice of  topic at this 18th Annual lecture: Made in Nigeria Products:The Vehicle For Sustainable Development?

You are aware that our economy is in a very very vicarious situation and the world economy is virtually going out of  power and in few years, less than 10 years a lot of countries will not be importing oil any longer. so the need to look inwards to see what we can begin to do ourselves so that our economy no longer depend on oil. The nation is very highly endowed and untli we look away from oil. unfortunately we wasted our years of harvest but i don’t think its late. we can still do something out of what we have in Nigeria.

What do you think the government should do in all these?

The government should be sincere about  this issue Made in Nigeria goods, at times some of the policies are not pursued with honesty. you cant be telling Nigerians to involve in developing Nigerian content  and at the same time favoring those who are still import from outside better than those who are doing something to develop Nigeria and bring employment to nigerians.  The federal government should be very sincere in its intent to encourage Nigerian entrepreneurs.

What would you say about the  ongoing ASSU Crisis?

The federal government should new serious in our educational system because that is the future of the country. If education is destroyed in this country, we have finished.  we have no future. they should sincerely and honestly look into their demands. Even if they are not able to meet those demands but  show them that you are truly interested in their welfare because its not fair that their welfare  is taken for granted  and  you  still want them to put in their 100%. I think the federal government should  look  sincerely and honestly look into their demands . when you are truly sincere about something  the person you are dealing with will know. The federal government is sincerely look into the situation and help them.

And the doctors are trying to join in the strike also?

That is because the government has not shown interest. At times, we take for granted these things and think that we can use government force to push down agitations. The federal government must understand that gone are the days where you can  push down people and use the government policy  to bulldoze them. Information is out there. We are no longer in those days where we lack information. People are getting information and people are becoming enlightened so we must go back to the table and then look into people agitations.

Whats your advice to Buhari incase you see him face to face?

We should not use violence. the other day,I saw in the news, i don’t know if its the social media, i saw  a moving armoured vehicles and troops into the south east. that is not the way to go when agitations like this come. these are not the days you use force or intimidation on people, because people are ready to die. we should go to the the table. take for instance the appointment in NNPC, who will not agitate? these are reasons why people agitate.You can’t give 10 to the north, three to the  southwest, two to the south south and nothing to the east and you want them to sleep and you want Nnamdi Kanu not to talk again.?  At times, i ask myself who are the people giving these advice, why are they giving these advice?

I just also heard the approval of a  rail road from Kano to Daura, what is the economic benefit of that rail road? we understand the one from Kaduna to Abuja, at least people who live in kaduna  can work in Abuja but this one, show me the economic benefits of spending such billions to develop rail road from kano to aura. the states that generate these funds we don’t even have roads that connect them, how much more airport, even the asana airport was built by state not federal government, the staters that really generates these money don’t have roads, they don’t have airport and you want them not to agitate? at times, i say to myself,  is somebody working on peoples mind in the federal government, for me i will tell him that such things are not acceptable.

What informs your choice of  topic at this 18th Annual lecture: Made in Nigeria Products:The Vehicle For Sustainable Development?

You are aware that our economy is in a very very vicarious situation and the world economy is virtually going out of  power and in few years, less than 10 years a lot of countries will not be importing oil any longer. so the need to look inwards to see what we can begin to do ourselves so that our economy no longer depend on oil. The nation is very highly endowed and untli we look away from oil. unfortunately we wasted our years of harvest but i don’t think its late. we can still do something out of what we have in Nigeria.

What do you think the government should do in all these?

The government should be sincere about  this issue Made in Nigeria goods, at times some of the policies are not pursued with honesty. you cant be telling Nigerians to involve in developing Nigerian content  and at the same time favoring those who are still import from outside better than those who are doing something to develop Nigeria and bring employment to nigerians.  The federal government should be very sincere in its intent to encourage Nigerian entrepreneurs.

What would you say about the  ongoing ASSU Crisis?

The federal government should new serious in our educational system because that is the future of the country. If education is destroyed in this country, we have finished.  we have no future. they should sincerely and honestly look into their demands. Even if they are not able to meet those demands but  show them that you are truly interested in their welfare because its not fair that their welfare  is taken for granted  and  you  still want them to put in their 100%. I think the federal government should  look  sincerely and honestly look into their demands . when you are truly sincere about something  the person you are dealing with will know. The federal government is sincerely look into the situation and help them.

And the doctors are trying to join in the strike also?

That is because the government has not shown interest. At times, we take for granted these things and think that we can use government force to push down agitations. The federal government must understand that gone are the days where you can  push down people and use the government policy  to bulldoze them. Information is out there. We are no longer in those days where we lack information. People are getting information and people are becoming enlightened so we must go back to the table and then look into people agitations.

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