A former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), on Tuesday decried Nigeria’s unending woes and said the country could only overcome its challenges if everyone comes together in unity.
Gowon, who spoke at the inauguration of new executives of the apex pan-northern socio-cultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, said no nation could thrive on the victory of factions.
The former military ruler is the Chairman, Board of Patrons of ACF.
According to him, “It is very important to note that no nation thrives on the victory of factions, but through ultimate reconciliation”.
He said that though the country’s politics and economy were going through a rough patch, the difficult times should spur national grandeur and bring about good leadership and the best in every Nigerian instead of the “current hype in ethnic nationalism and religious bigotry that seek to promote cleavages that are self-destructive”.
He said, “The freedom brought about by democracy defined democracy as government of the people and by the people and for the people. It is expected to thrive on a triple foundation of liberty, justice and common decency. That is why it is said that democracy is rather a contest of ideas and reasons and not contests for survival where politicians take it out violently among themselves in the name of democracy.
“Only liberty, justice and common decency are true elements of democracy.
“We therefore appeal to our politicians not to resort to violence in the name of freedom that comes with democracy. You will agree with me in saying that although Nigeria may be going through hard times, political, economic and social, we have a resilience to tackle it successfully.
“The difficult times should spur national grandeur; bring about good leadership and the best in every one of us”.
The former Head of State stressed the need for all Nigerians “to come together and unleash their energy against the security challenges and other national malaise, be it Boko Haram, ethno-religious crisis, kidnapping, militant activism, armed robbery or piracy or any other such act that disrupt the peace and harmony and threaten the economic and social development of the country.
“We believe the situation is not beyond redemption and so, should not be allowed to set a national agenda of reconsideration of our unity and nationhood”, he added.
Gowon also noted the emergence of factions in the ACF, saying division in the group would only hamper the realisation of its objectives.
He said, “I am compelled to mention this because ACF emerged through the coming together of northern elders for the expressed purpose of promoting peaceful coexistence in the north as precondition for socio-economic development of the north and that of Nigeria.
“We do not share in the reason being advanced in favour of proliferation of elders groups that ACF is not politically active. It is important to note that while ACF may not be politically partisan for obvious reasons, many of the forum’s members belong to different political parties.
“Rather than sing discordant tunes and breed confusion in the polity, the different groups of elders should remind themselves of the circumstances which brought about the existence of ACF and come back to the fold in order to improve on the forum’s performance for public good and in the interest of Nigeria”.
The event was attended by prominent northerners including Vice President Namadi Sambo, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).