Gowon urges unity, as North takes position on restructuring
Former Head of State and founder of the interfaith association “Nigeria Prays”, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has appealed to well- meaning Nigerians to convince those “calling for the breakup of the country to desist.”
The elder statesman who reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that Nigeria remains one entity said that there are more people in support of the unity of the country than those who are agitating for its breakup.Gowon spoke with journalists at “The Honour Nigeria Awards” organised by Trinity House tagged “Fulfilling Nigerians potential” held at Victoria Island, Lagos.
He expressed commitment to the meaning given to his name by a journalist: “Go On With One Nigeria” (GOWON), adding that Nigerians created the problems and should rise to solve them.Gowon stressed that with love for God and one another, Nigeria would achieve greatness in a very short time, adding that all citizens must make the country work.
“The honour bestowed on me today, I accept on behalf of every Nigerian both past, present and future to keep Nigeria one. This church, by way of emphasis, is about the unity, love of God, unity of the country and love for one another to make us great as a nation. Forget all the differences that are happening and harassment from here and there. I believe we will make it.
“God is saying to Nigerians that we are His people. Aren’t we all religious in Nigeria? Even the traditional religion always worships that unknown god and that unknown god is rarely the God almighty that we all believe in. We should concentrate on loving each other and work to ensure that we achieve greatness. It is up to every Nigerian to contribute his quota.
“I admonish you to work hard to make sure that you convince those who are in the agitation for the break up of the country. Tell them no, we have got to convince them and I can assure that there are more who love Nigeria and like Nigeria to continue in peace and development than those who are trying to create problems for Nigeria.
“We should live an exemplary life, in whatever you do, be honest to God, love God the way you should and love your neighbour as yourself, if honestly we can practise that, then things will be better. I love Nigeria, I believe in Nigeria like many other Nigerians and like the young man that wrote that article giving a meaning to my name, Go On With One Nigeria, I can assure you that it gave me the courage and determination to do it correctly, with the fear of God and with the love for my people. We Nigerians created the problems for ourselves and we have got to solve them by ourselves.”
Earlier in his message, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, the founder, Trinity House said the event was part of activities to commemorate Nigeria’s independence anniversary celebrations in the church.
“The event is the church’s own way of contributing to the development of the Nigerian nation. Nigeria has some of the most outstanding people that the world has ever seen as citizens. We must begin to celebrate these people and also celebrate the good about Nigeria; we must raise up bright and new role models. Our prayer is that Nigeria will begin to be truly outstanding.”
The former military leader received the 2017 leadership award while Senator David Dafinone got the 2017 professionalism award. And while Chief Stella Chinyelu Okoli got the 2017 industrialist award, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika was honoured with the 2017 female role model award.
Gowon spoke yesterday as former political adviser in the Presidency, Dr. Usman Bugaje, said the north would take a clear position on restructuring based on research and consensus rather than on emotion and selfishness.In a statement, Bugaje, who is the convener of Arewa Research and Development Project, said given that the issue of restructuring had become contentious, it would be necessary for the north to rise above the confusion and present a more rational position.
“In the last one year, or so, ‘restructuring’ and ‘true federalism’ have dominated political discourse in Nigeria. Unfortunately, when you listen to the speeches and read the articles on these issues, you will find out that there are as many comprehensions of these terms as there are people speaking or writing. Besides, most of the discussions seem to ignore the history of the evolution of our federalism and this failure has actually helped to rob the whole exercise of its propriety, accuracy and clarity,” Bugaje said.
According to him, though citizens are at liberty to canvass restructuring, their use of imprecise terms and inaccurate arguments has not only resulted in communication breakdown, but has helped to spread confusion and generate needless tension in the polity.To this effect, Bugaje said the Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP) would hold a two-day conference in Kaduna on Wednesday to help bring clarity, accuracy and coherence into the debate as well as provide a sound basis upon which the North would anchor its position on restructuring.
He said the planning committee of the conference drew heavily from northern academic institutions and organisations like the Northern Elders’ Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum, Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation, Code Group, Northern Delegates Forum, Northern Re-awakening, Jamiyyar Matan Arewa and Arewa Initiative for Good Governance.
“This conference seeks to blend academic presentations with realpolitik,” he said, adding that “while academics and experts will lead with papers, a panel of practitioners will discuss the issues extensively. The audience will also be given a chance to raise issues and make their inputs into the discussions.”
According to him, “some of the key papers will be on the history of the Nigerian federation; an examination of the constitutional developments in pre- and post-colonial Nigeria; and the dangers of war, the dynamics of peace. “
“Others will look at the principles of fiscal federalism and revenue allocation; the land question and the development agenda of the north. In the afternoon of both two days, a panel of experts will focus on these presentations and bring the practical dimensions to the fore while the audience gets a chance to make their inputs,” Bugaje added.
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