Federal Government will soon unveil policies to address restructuring, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday.
This followed calls for restructuring by eminent individuals and groups.
Osinbajo spoke in Abuja at the launch of a book:”Nigeria: The Restructuring Controversy”, authored by former Inspector General of Police Sir Mike Okiro.
The Acting President , who was represented by the President’s Special Adviser on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu, said the government “is listening and taking notes”.
He discouraged use of guns and wars, noting that there was no alternative to peaceful coexistence.
He said: “All your arguments and debates are being noted by the government. We are watching and we are looking at all of the things you are saying and taking notes.
“The beauty of Nigeria is that we don’t quickly take up our guns and knives to fight. We love to debate and it is what we are known for.
“Even at the height of the controversy surrounding the annulment of the June 12 election, we shouted, demonstrated, protested but we never at any time took guns against one another.”
He added: “So, it is a beautiful thing that we are looking at the issue of restructuring. What we are, however, against is a situation whereby any one of us rises up and takes their guns against the other person.
“This is not in the character of our people in this country but we can assure you that we are looking at all of the contributions being made across the country – whether from the North, South, Southeast, Northcentral, Southwest and the government of Buhari is taking notes of all the contributions and very soon, we are going to come out with policies that will take care of some of the issues that are germane in this debate around restructuring.”
He, however, affirmed that Nigeria would remain one, irrespective of calls by some groups.
“We all believe in this country, no matter who you are and no matter your opinion about Nigeria today. We are all committed to the idea of Nigeria and as long as we remain brothers and sisters, we are going to be greater.”
Osinbajo said: “Tomorrow will be great; there are challenges today but we are thinking that part of the problems we have today is lack of inclusiveness.
“Many of our young people are unemployed and many others are having issues with who they are, where they are within the structures that we have today. All of these can be resolved under one umbrella for which many of our past heroes fought. We cannot afford to go back to issues we have resolved during the Civil War.
“What we can do and the best we can do is to write books, debate and argue among ourselves and in the process, we would find solutions to problems confronting our country. What we are fighting for and we are working day and night to achieve is equity, justice and fairness. We believe this can be achieved under this entity called Nigeria.”
He cited countries like Sudan, Soviet Union and Iraqi and noted that there is no country around that has been able to solve the issue of nationality.
On the need to shun war, Osinbajo said: “We must do everything within our power and not allow anything that would make us turn guns against one another.
“Around the world today, wars no longer come to an end. Afghanistan has been at war for more than 40 years and it has not been able to resolve it. Syria has been at war for more than four years and nobody knows when the war would end.
“We all know what happened before the war in Iraqi but it is today completely devastated with all manners of warlords and nobody knows how the end of the war would be.
“So, it is in our interest as a nation to continue to dialogue and as leaders of this country, we are going to continue to listen and continue to take actions based on what we hear from you and based on feedback from both the young and the old, men and women and organisations.”
Former Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar attributed the discovery and dependence on oil as the cause of the problem presently facing the country.
Abubakar, who was represented by the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Nnia Nwodo, suggested a paradigm shift.
He said: “Restructuring is an extremely controversial topic and it is an unavoidable controversy for our country. We have come to a junction in the history of our country that is most regrettable. Those of us who grew up before independence knew a better Nigeria than the one our children face today.
“The reason that we are in this jinx is because we discovered oil. Those who found oil have used oil and the formula to divide Nigeria into states that are dependent on oil and nothing again.
“We found oil and forgot all we had but very soon, oil will mean nothing and if this structure persists, by the time our oil becomes useless, our economy will become moribund.”
The author of the book, Okiro said the call for restructuring and threats by groups indicate a crack in the wall of the nation’s unity.
The former IG said it ought to be neatly and strongly cemented and in good time in the interest of national peace and progress.
He said conspiracy by elites was the source of conflicts.
Okiro said: “Nigeria’s problems are not solely ethnic or religious. They are embedded on elite conspiracy and subterranean manoeuvres for sectoral supremacy.
“Our elites fan the embers of ethnic and religious disharmony to achieve their group or personal interests at the expense of our national ethos.”
He said: “My strong conviction is that Nigeria will emerge an unstoppable giant on the path of peace, rapid development and progress, not by dissolving into mushroom republics or along ethno-religious lines, but by a leadership led reconstruction that accords iron-cast deference and reverence to justice, equity and fair-weather, even in the face of the worst of odds.”
The book reviewer, the Editorial Board Chairman of The Nation, Sam Omatseye, described the nine-chapter book as an history about ethnic pride and prejudice, about justice and denial of the cry for justice.
He said the book calls for humanity to emphasise those things that binds people together rather than those things that tear them apart.
Omatseye, who said oil played a major role in restructuring, noted the need for Nigerians to listen to one another more.
“The book is also about food on the table, those who eat the food and forget those who make it. It is about resource control,” he said.